Belgium/UK: Ab InBev to dump paper labels

AB InBev is testing a new technique which replaces paper labels on bottles by direct prints on the bottles. Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, a subsidiary of the world’s largest brewer, is currently testing the new technique with their Beck’s brand. The company has produced and rolled out through the UK 200,000 limited edition bottles, whose 9 different prints have been created by six artists in collaboration with AB InBev’s Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC) in Leuven, Belgium.

GITEC is AB InBev’s hub of innovation, working across wordwide teams and brands to develop new products, processes and technologies. Driven by a team of more than 120 R&D specialists from more than 20 countries, GITEC works on new forms of packaging, tapping, logistics and a more efficient and sustainable brewing process.

“Direct object printing on glass is a revolution in print and AB InBev is pioneering this technology,” said Simon Gerdesmann, Tatto Alpha Plant (TAP) project manager in Haasrode, a village close to Leuven, Belgium. This digital embossing is one of the most unusual capabilities of this technology. Colorless ink is used to [mimic] traditional glass embossing, bringing a new dimension to bottle decoration — consumers will feel and experience a bottle in a completely different way.”

About 4 weeks less are needed from design to retail compared to traditional labels. In addition, the new technology also allows for smaller batches and will reduce the environmental impact. “While fuller economic-footprint analyses are still being done of the new technology, printing directly onto the bottle will remove label materials used in more traditional printing methods,” an AB InBev spokesperson told MarketWatch. If successful, also other AB InBev brands in other markets will use the new technology.

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