For the first time, Belgian brewery group AB InBev is marketing beer in unlabelled bottles. Using a new technique, the logo and information such as ingredients are printed directly on the bottle. In this way, the brewer intends to easily personalise packaging.
Five years of research
At the moment, these bottles without a label can only be found in British department stores: the first batch consists of around 200,000 bottles of Beck’s. As of next year, other AB InBev brands will follow suit, including those in Belgian stores.
The new technique of printing directly onto the glass is the result of five years of research at Gitec, the brewery group's worldwide research centre, based in Leuven. Although printing on glass already exists, AB InBev developed its own process, involving around thirty people in the research process.
Co-coordinator of the project, Jonas Vandecruys, explains the great advantage of the printing technology: "Major brands are looking for opportunities to create more personalised products", Belgian newspaper De Tijd records. "That is why we started this project. In the first place, we will use the technique for smaller, special editions. Think of how Jupiler became 'Belgium' for the World Cup football. Using this new technique, we can very quickly put bottles in the shops showing, for example, the result of a certain match."
One important disadvantage, however, is that the technique can only be used on disposable bottles for the time being. Because the ink is difficult to remove, the process is not currently suitable for those bottles that are subject to a deposit. According to Vandecruys, a solution to that problem is being widely sought.