Coca-Cola's Aluminium Bottles Come to IndiA

Global soft drinks giant Coca-Cola first rolled out its famous glass bottles a century ago.
13 December, 2016
Since 2005, Coca-Cola's aluminium bottles have captured the same contours while spreading across the globe.
Coca-Cola plans to expand the use of its aluminium bottles into its India market, adding to the success of the packaging option that has already proven popular in the United States, China and Europe.

The 200 milliliter-sized bottles will be rolled out in the next three to four years, says Dana Bolden, the vice president at the Bottling Investments Group for Coca-Cola. The decision is based in part on the maturing market in India, and the adoption of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and other beverage products.
You can really tell how the country's economy is progressing by seeing the different variety of our packaging available in the market. Years ago, we started with RGB (returnable glass bottles) that was the primary packaging for India because of the disposable incomes of Indians at that time. As India's disposable income continued to grow, that is when you see proliferation of different packaging into the market. It is more about the consumer demand.
— Dana Bolden
Photo: Utoka
Last year, the aluminium bottles were available in 45 countries. Debbie Haseley, the company's director for supply chain optimization, adds that the decision also is based on the potential for revenue growth.

The switch to aluminium reflects an added value to the product for both Coca-Cola and the consumer. The bottles are easy to transport, while protecting the freshness and shelf life of the contents better than glass. Yet since the first aluminium bottles were introduced 10 years ago – even though the packaging costs more – it has been the consumers who are attracted to the clean, modern Coke bottle.
They are sleek and trendy, and during this holiday season, those aluminium bottles will feature the famous Coca Cola polar bears for a limited time. Yet Bolden expects that Indian consumers will appreciate the light weight and on-the-go portability as much as fans in other countries do, and part of the switch has been to modernize and re-energize the brand for a young audience in a critical international market.

Of course, the Coca-Cola company is responsible for maintaining an iconic brand and one hundred years of history. Part of that history is the bottle itself, one that is instantly recognized as Coca-Cola the world over. Customers have loved the aluminium bottles from the beginning – the first editions went to eBay as collector items – but they weren't as easy to make as they might think.
Image: Adeevee
"Aluminium is a very soft metal, so putting a cap on an aluminium bottle is incredibly challenging," he explained in a 2015 Coca-Cola India blog post. "Glass is much easier to cap – it's rigid and hard. But when you're putting a soft closure on a soft metal bottle at a high speed – holding the carbonation and at the same time making the bottle easy to open – it's a delicate balancing act."

Santamaria said the design precision was a lot like having a combination safe and having to dial a series of knobs just right to unlock it. Fortunately, the aluminium bottle team got it right, sending Coca Cola on a path to increased sales and revenues while protecting their product with a smart materials choice.
Banner image: Candice Bender