Sidel partners Coca-Cola to develop proprietary Spiral PET Bottle

Sidel has successfully created, in a team effort, a new ‘spiral’ PET bottle for The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), as part of TCCC’s goal to rejuvenate the Fanta brand.
Fanta is TCCC’s biggest brand after Coke. Like any great product, Fanta has evolved over the years, with a number of bottle re-designs under its belt. However, the popularity of the Fanta Splash bottle shape had led to it becoming something of a generic bottle for sparkling beverages on the supermarket shelves of key markets.
Consequently, this diluted the Fanta ownership of the bottle shape in what is the 2nd largest brand outside the US and therefore a very important product in the TCCC range.
This has motivated Coca-Cola to start developing a new proprietary Fanta packaging shape, applicable to both PET and glass bottles, in order to provide a protectable new global standard for the brand.
“After years of success in the international soft drinks market, the Fanta Splash shape had effectively become universally owned by the carbonated soft drinks category rather than the brand. This is quite a standard occurrence over the life cycle of a brand which inevitably evolves over time. This meant it was the right time to redesign the bottle with an impactful shape to make it stand out once again on the shelves,” said Gregory Bentley, Coca-Cola Packaging Engineer in charge of global project coordination.
Working closely with the winning design agency, Drink Works and Fanta packaging team, TCCC was able to gather up-to-date packaging mix information, specific market requirements and on-going feedback on suitable design routes, said Bentley.
Sidel has played a key role in the packaging project development, namely qualifying the new Fanta bottle for industrial production. “By embedding the supplier’s knowledge and experience from the very first steps of this journey, we have ensured viable bottle forming, filling and performance,” said Bentley.
The new bottle shape required precise understanding of how PET behaves under pressure, particularly with regard to how the carbonation of the beverage can potentially deform the bottle sections, which could lead to the drink spilling. Just like its predecessor, the new bottle was meant be 100% recyclable.
The new creative and differentiating bottle in PET designed by Drink Works represents a “rule-breaker” in terms of bottle design for carbonated soft drinks. It features a spiral, inspired by the twisting of an orange to release its juice. It is based on a series of ribs decorated with small bubbles, including a torsion in the bottom half. This spiral gives the Fanta bottle an unusual, asymmetric structure which presented a real challenge in terms of developing a container able to withstand deformation and stability issues. “We were championing this spiral shape, which has the accolade of being truly unique in the world of carbonated packaging designs for containers in PET, and Sidel supported us to overcome the challenges that the design presented,” said Bentley.
The Spiral bottle required full design testing and refinement, achieved through more than 60 technical drawing iterations and FEAs (Finite Element Analysis) to test performance using computing analysis. Moreover, it involved the production of 15 pilot moulds and feasibility tests successfully managed with Sidel to achieve validation of the final bottle design.
Bentley confirmed that the final PET bottle design has been fully tested, making sure the vertical growth under pressure is perfectly controlled and that the container meets all Coca-Cola quality and performance requirements. The physical strength of the new bottle is as good as the previous Fanta Splash bottle. Other line stability tests were also conducted by Sidel, achieving suitable results for high speed filling.
In addition, the new position of the label panel on the spiral bottle, which is further up towards the neck of the bottle, also has the added advantage of excellent visibility as it is no longer subject to potential masking by the front panels of some shelves or by stacking units.
A similar bottle shape has been deployed for the whole Fanta bottle family and it is now available for 500ml, 1 litre, 1.5 litre and 2 litre formats.
Leveraging the successful cooperation with Sidel, an alternate 500ml Spiral bottle has been developed to ensure stability specifically for gravity-fed inclined shelves which are typically implemented in cold chain distribution. This required specific design rules to be adopted, with very precise bubble numbers and locations around the ribs which constitute the spiral. A consideration throughout the development of the PET bottle was the successful capability to also transfer the new shape to the glass bottle.
The new Spiral Fanta bottle in PET is already available in Italy, Poland, Malta, Serbia, Finland, Romania and the UK, with plans for global roll-out over the next few months.