One year after the launch of Bebi infant juice and water in the Australian baby beverage category, the brand’s novel packaging concept has won the country’s top packaging industry accolade, and a few other awards besides. Lindy Hughson spoke to Peter Bares, the entrepreneur and packaging technologist behind the innovation.
It has been an extremely successful year for Poppet International and its subsidiary company Bebi Australia, which has brought to market the first bottled infant beverages packaged in PET with a single-use sterile teat. Not only has the company expanded its local test market from an initial 200 Woolworths stores to all 850 of the supermarket retailer’s outlets, at the time of writing it is also on the verge of concluding a deal with a large Japanese channel, which will see the business ramp up volumes significantly.
To top it off, in October this innovative packaging and product concept for a sterile, organic infant juice and water, marketed under the Bebi brand, was announced as Gold Award winner in the Beverage Packaging category, winner of the Innovation Award, and overall Best of Show in the 2012 Australian Packaging Design Awards.
The news of the triple win vindicates the strong market take-up in Australia in the retail channel.
‘Australia is an ideal test market; it allows companies to ‘play’ in a defined space and at relatively low volume and cost, and to use those learnings to refine the packaging and product,’ says Peter Bares, MD of Poppet International.
‘Because of the sensitive nature of our product ‘ infant beverages ‘ we had to be absolutely certain there would be no problem with sterility or pack function, specifically with the teat.
‘Since launch in late 2011, we have had only positive feedback. And we’ve gathered valuable consumer insights into product usage that has supported our marketing drive into local and export channels,’ he says.
‘Consumer feedback on the teats, for instance, is that the consistency of flow we have achieved is part of what makes this product so popular. One parent told me it’s the only type of teat her infant likes to drink from.
‘We have patented a new method for putting a hole in the teat that ensures a consistent flow rate ‘ this is something consumers have indicated is very important to them, and that’s not a feature of other teats available on the market,’ he adds.
Bares explains that his patented PoppetSafe closure comprises two parts the sterile teat and a snap-off peak that covers the teat until ready for use.
The bottle’s shrink label carries clear instructions on how to access the teat without compromising sterility.
The single-use teat is made from food-grade thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and contains no BPA, phthalates, nitrosamines or siloxanes. Unlike the majority of baby teats, which are made of silicone in a three-step process, the PoppetSafe teat is made in a single-step process that takes less than 15 seconds. It’s made in a Class 10,000 clean room facility in Melbourne, and shipped to NZ where the bottling is undertaken. Another consumer insight, Bares says, is the positive response to the brand’s cartoon-style characters, with children holding on to the bottle and identifying with the characters.
‘We didn’t want to adopt an existing licensed character for our brand so approached design company Viskatoon to design characters that would have an appeal in markets beyond our own, and would build brand recognition in the longer term. In fact, a recent comment from an Asian retailer looking to list our products was that we had clearly designed these cute characters with their market in mind.
‘We have 15 designs in total, such is the immediate vision for our range,’ he says.
On the market at the moment is the Bebi infant-suitable water and infant- suitable juice. Both products are packed under contract in New Zealand, the juice is hot filled and the water aseptically packed at two separate facilities.
The company developed its own preform for the 250ml blowmoulded PET bottle with a non-standard 42mm neck – which required modifications of the Sidel bottle blowing machine.
With interest from Asian markets, the company has set its sights on expansion in 2013, not only into exports but also through pharmacy and convenience store channels in Australia and New Zealand.
As a newcomer against big brand owners, Bebi Australia’s point of difference:
It’s innovative packaging for on-the-go consumption, offering benefits of sterility and light weight convenience
Will make it a strong challenger in the infant beverage category.
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