A NORTH-east soft drinks producer has successfully developed an innovative packaging solution designed to safely transport small glass bottles, funded by a business interruption grant.
Summerhouse Drinks has put a £36,000 Innovate UK Covid-19 Business Interruption grant to good use during the pandemic by developing a new packaging solution that can be rolled out to the wider industry.
Headquartered on Manse Farm in Fraserburgh, the drinks company, owned by businesswoman Claire Rennie, received the money during lockdown after designing and developing the new product.
It is fully recyclable and has been designed to safely transport small glass bottles by courier delivery.
Previously, Claire would have used non-recyclable bubble wrap or plastic to secure her products for delivery, however, this new, unique cardboard frame suspends the bottles, ensuring they do not break when transported.
She said: “At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we successfully won an Innovation UK grant competition to develop innovative, fully-recyclable packaging for sending out our products via courier so we could get online.
“It was a really tough competition. Instead of having to bubble wrap everything, which most companies using bottles or jars have to do, we can now use this cardboard packaging which holds the bottles in a frame.
“It it really quick to pack and our tests have shown that it is more resilient in the courier system than bubble wrap.
“I had an idea in my head, but before lockdown we never really needed to be online. At the start of lockdown, two things happened, this competition came up and two, we lost a significant amount of sales.
“I really needed to diversify to survive. I made a prototype with cardboard and was cutting different shapes out and trialing it. My daughter and I spent a day dropping stuff on the floor. I took it to our packaging supplier and they produced it into something that was really easy to put together at the end of the bottling line.”
Having lost 60% of sales after hospitality venues were shut down during lockdown, Claire realised moving online was her only option, and wanted to increase efficiency on the bottling and packaging line.
As a result, she developed the concept and prototype which she then took to her packaging supplier, Pitreavie Packaging, which transformed it into the final product.
“Before Covid-19 we had no online e-commerce of our own and we lost 60% of our sales due to hospitality being shut. We had to diversify and this was our response,” said Claire.