CPG, Retail

New ‘carton bottle’ helps Steuben Foods launch alt-milk beverage

Elmhurst-brand premium nut-based beverages are reportedly first in U.S. to use cutting-edge combidome carton bottle for low-acid products.

Steuben Foods specializes in airtight, long shelf-life products, which includes a new line of Elmhurst-brand premium nut-based beverages milked almonds, milked cashews, milked walnuts, and mixed hazelnuts. The 32-oz varieties are said to represent the first U.S. use of the combidome “Low Acid” carton bottle from SIG Combibloc.

The products were first presented to the public at the Natural Products Expo West in California in March. The slim, rectangular-shaped containers taper inward the shoulder level. A creamy white background allows the different nut varieties to stand out in the shapely bottle at retail. The lactose-free, vegan alternative to dairy are beverages marketed for consumption straight from the glass, in coffee, in smoothies and over cereal.

Jeff Sokal, Steuben Foods’ Senior Vice-President Business Development, says: “With our new milked nut beverages we’re presenting products that are unique in this segment. The creaminess of the beverages comes exclusively from a proprietary cold-milling process that ensures you get all the valuable nutrients and the full flavor of the whole nuts. Compared to other nut beverages, our products are like homemade—with absolutely no emulsifiers and no thickeners. The aseptic process ensures that all harmful germs were eliminated, while simultaneously allowing us to capture and stabilize the freshness and quality of our nut milks longer than anyone else. When you drink a glass of our beverage, you can be sure you’re getting the nutrition of ingredient; it’s as if you were eating a handful of nuts.”

For Steuben Foods, there was no question that revolutionary products deserved innovative packaging. The company opted for combidome, the carton bottle from SIG Combibloc. The pack looks and handles like a bottle, while at the same time offering all the benefits of a carton pack as far as environmental and logistical advantages are concerned.

With the market launch of the nut beverages in combidome, Steuben Foods is making a notable entrance in two respects. Says Sokal, “Our products are a statement—and so is combidome. We’re confident that by choosing combidome, we’re setting ourselves up for clear differentiation in the milk alternatives segment.”

Low acid—higher standards

Christian Szameit, Key Account Manager at SIG Combibloc, says: “Steuben Foods is one of our most ambitious clients in terms of business plans and innovative projects. We firmly believe combidome is an excellent fit for the company’s ideas. With the launch of the Elmhurst nut beverages, the package is being used for low-acid products for the first time.

“Packaging for this type of product has to meet different standards than, for instance, fruit juice packaging. Unlike juices, the taste of dairy products or plant-based dairy alternatives can be affected by light. So, for example, we’ve designed the spouts for combidome Liquid Dairy cartons in such a way that they let in almost no light. So the products are optimally protected.”

For combidome Low Acid, the filling process too has been specifically tailored to the requirements of low-acid products. Hanno Geissler, Head of Aseptic Technology at SIG Combibloc. Says, “For the UHT filling of low-acid products, the packs must meet the highest requirements for sterile use, because germs can reproduce much more readily in a low-acid environment such as milk than they can in a product like juice. The sensitivity to light of milk and milk alternatives is another issue. The filling machines for combidome Low Acid and the corresponding carton packs take this into account, so manufacturers can flexibly fill all kinds of beverages.”

Like many other SIG Combibloc filling machine models, the combidome Low Acid machine has an FDA Master File. This offers the best conditions for rapid acceptance by the U.S. food and health authorities.

Hanno Geissler, who is responsible for the FDA master files at SIG Combibloc, notes, “In FDA master files, we can provide our customers with all the necessary data, information, and supporting documents required by the FDA in connection with our filling machines. On the basis of this, food manufacturers can be assured of a certain and rapid start to production on filling machines from SIG. FDA master files save our customers time and money.”

Specialized in aseptic packaging

Founded in 1980, today Steuben Foods is one of the United States’ leading companies in the field of aseptic filling and packaging of low-acid foods and beverages. The company works with scores of multinational food companies, and specializes in the processing and packing of products such as milk and milk alternatives. Steuben Foods also supplies products for the foodservice sector and for many major retail chains and wholesalers in North America.

The partnership between Steuben and SIG Combibloc began in 2013 with the installation of a CFA 812 filling machine to fill combiblocMidi and combifitMidi. The company now also has a CFA 312 for combiblocSlimline and a CFA 1224 for combiblocXSlim in operation. With the newly added combidome filling line, Steuben can now offer innovative packaging that is essential for differentiation, and the carton also delivers convenience and environmental performance.

Milking process

The Elmhurst milking process is described on the company’s website as follows:

“Our patented process is a cold milling technique we’ve coined ‘milking’ that allows us to produce a non-dairy milk containing all the nutrition of the nuts in a creamy emulsion. This technique successfully extracts all protein, fat, and micronutrients from the whole ingredients so there is no need to fortify our products. Our process does not require controversial industrial stabilizers or gums like carrageenan, locust bean, or xanthan.

“The kay advantage of our milking process is that it can produce a ‘whole foods’ drink, extracting all of the nutritional benefit of the nuts in a ‘clean’ form (without stabilizers or gums), that has a creamy texture with appealing subtle flavors.

“Our innovative [aseptic bottling] process allows for safe consumption over longer periods producing a superior, longer shelf life without the need for refrigeration before opening.”

Source : www.packworld.com