With consumers wanting more no-alcohol drink options, you may be thinking of creating your own line of non-alcoholic beverage line.
With changing consumer tastes driving beverage sales toward low-alcohol or no-alcohol drinks, you may be thinking of responding to the market by creating your own line of non-alcoholic beverages.
If you've been bottling craft beer, get ready for some changes, because non-alcoholic beverages are regulated by a different Federal agency than the one you're used to. In addition to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), now you'll have to add the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the list of agencies whose jurisdiction includes your business. Different products not only mean a different regulating body, but a completely different market.
The mocktail category is rife with ready-to-drink "craft cocktails on the lighter side" featuring "alcohol-inspired flavors" that aren't alcohol. The ready-to-drink (RTD) sector covers everything from herbal teas and mocktails to energy drinks and coffees — all part of the $23 billion single-serve RTD beverage market and the $17.67 billion global RTD market.
So-called "functional drinks" are hot. A breakdown shows 47% of consumers are looking for drinks that include antioxidants, 40% want a beverage that promotes brain health, 40% want one with anti-inflammatory properties, and 30% want a drink containing probiotics. Obviously a growing part of the RTD market appeals directly to health-conscious consumers, but even sports drinks — those sugar-and-caffeine bombs — are sidling up to the health trend. For example, there's the Radnor Hills line of natural energy drinks with a moderate 70 mg of natural caffeine, no sugar, and seven B vitamins. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have similar healthy non-soda drinks as well.
Decide on a product.
A wide variety of non-alcoholic products is possible, and if you have not bottled non-alcoholic beverages before, check out our August 2019 post Does Your Package Label Meet the FDA's Food Labeling Requirements? Because of the complexities of FDA labeling rules, and some recent changes as well, it's a good idea to consider talking to an FDA compliance consultant such as this firm that specializes in alcohol and beverage sales.
The FDA is a very different agency than TTB when it comes to labeling. FDA-regulated labels must contain certain information and must conform to rules about statements such as claims of health benefits. To comply with FDA regulations, beverage labels must contain Nutrition Facts declarations conforming to specific formatting, naming and quantity requirements, and display percent daily value calculations.
Once you've figured out what kind of non-alcoholic beverage you want to bottle and are square with the FDA, it's time to proceed to our tips for bottling your non-alcoholic beer or mocktails.
Select a container type (or two).
With the variety of containers out there, consider the marketing advantages inherent in offering your beverage in more than one container type. There are single-serve cans, crowlers, growlers, and bottles of many shapes, colors, and sizes — not to mention alternative packaging, such as plastic bottles, boxes, and cartons. You'll reach more consumers — and broaden awareness of your brand — if your product appears in several kinds of containers.
A crowler (the combination of "can" and "growler") is a 32-ounce aluminum can that lets customers take home a draft of their favorite beverage. One advantage of crowlers over smaller cans is acres of real estate for a nice, big shrink label (see Crowlers Were Made for Shrink Labeling). If you're specifically planning to market a non-alcoholic beer and want the container to have that beer vibe, read this post about crowlers, growlers, bombers, and howlers.
Trying to decide between bottles and cans? Read Cans vs. Bottles: Choosing Which is Best for Your Brew. Although it's aimed at draft beer brewers, you'll get a sense of the marketing and economic advantages and disadvantages of each container format.
Choose a container supplier.
Beverage container suppliers are plentiful (try googling "beverage container supplier," and you'll get about 94 million results), so having enough choices won't be a problem for you. The issue will be narrowing down the options and selecting the supplier that will provide consistently high-quality products, ones that will work well with your labeling equipment.
Because we’re in the business of making labeling equipment, we work with many beverage companies, so we have quite a bit of experience helping customers line up container manufacturers and label suppliers then finding the labeling machine to fit existing assembly lines. Feel free to reach out to us for some advice.
Invest in automation.
Having selected your container supplier and container type, settled on a label design, and picked a label supplier, you're ready to apply those labels and start shipping product. With Pack Leader USA as your partner in labeling automation, you'll be prepared to avoid some common labeling errors and turn out a high-quality, strongly branded product fast enough to keep pace with demand. With that in mind, let’s talk about labeling machines.
- We recommend the ELF-50 as the best entry-level wraparound labeling machine for beer bottles. It's small enough to move and store, and it's capable of switching from semi-automatic operation for small batches to full automation as production ramps up.
- If you're thinking of bigger labels for crowlers, you can use the ELF-50 for that too. For higher production capacity, consider moving up to the PL-501, another wraparound labeler.
- For maximum branding impact, go with one of our shrink sleeve labeling machines — the SL-10, the SL-77, or the SL-301. Shrink sleeve labels provide total coverage of the container, and as a bonus, are capable of neck and cap banding when a tamper-evident seal is needed.