Corona is hoping to shake up the beer packaging industry with a new environmentally-friendly six-pack holder made from barley straw.
Barley straw is a by-product from farmers' harvests of the barley seed that is used in the brewing process. The material is combined with 100% recycled wood pulp, creating a paper board that Corona says is as strong and durable as traditional six-pack materials. Corona is the first beverage brand to use the technology.
The new packaging, which has been three years in development by Corona's owner Anheuser-Busch InBev, will launch today to coincide with Global Recycling Day, with an initial 10,000 six-packs rolling out as a pilot in Colombia in March, followed by Argentina later in 2021 as Corona looks to scale up the new solution globally.
The change in packaging is key to the brand's sustainability agenda and communications strategy, says Felipe Ambra, global vice president of marketing at Corona. "Corona exists to invite people to reconnect with nature outdoors. That's the way we define our purpose. We are a brand that was born at the beach, so the reason we embrace sustainability is that if you want people to be outdoors, they need to be protecting it."
While the new packaging won't initially be promoted in advertising, messaging on the packs will communicate its benefits. Meanwhile AB InBev will work with its suppliers to incorporate the technology around the world, where it's available in over 210 markets. "It will depend on how fast our suppliers can adapt, but this will be top priority for us," added Ambra. "This is not a prototype, it is feasible and it could be used in any industry that leverages carton."
"This technology really can go across the entire globe and this is our first foray into it," adds Keenan Thompson, director of packaging innovation at AB InBev. "Our paper has to be very strong and durable, and this works. Consumers are going to see nothing but upsides. They are going to be able to see and feel the difference."
Corona isn't the first beer brand to create a sustainable six-pack holder. Back in 2016, Saltwater Brewery and agency We Believers debuted edible six-pack rings that were safe for consumption by wildlife.