Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) has experienced market differentiation as well as material and transportation savings using xpedx’s variety-pack box that houses four 22oz glass bottles.

Debuted in August 2011, the $20 variety pack box was used by CBA for its Red Hook Brewery, Kona Brewing Company, Omission Beer and Widmer Brothers Brewing beer brands.

The box is litho-printed in four colors and includes die-cuts on all the four sides that serves as windows and allows customers to view the bottles.

CBA supply chain senior director Kyle Jennings told Packaging World that enabling consumers to see the bottles in the case also allows them to look at individual ink jet-printed bottle code dates.

By using the variety pack, CBA was able to increase its pallet loads for 22oz beers by 40%, which reduced shipping costs.

Jennings said that the increase in pallet loads is due to a pallet-stacking pattern developed by CBA, and the fact that CBA uses a slightly larger pallet than it does for pallet loads of 22oz beers not sold in the variety pack.

The die-cut corners further reduced the amount of corrugated by about 15% compared with traditional cases without windows.

Despite the windowed corners, the positioning of the glass bottles prevents contact with the other bottles and hence prevents glass bottle damage.

Widmer Brothers assistant brand manager Aaron Burget told the website that craft beer drinkers are going after larger bottles so they do not have to commit to an entire six-pack that has just one variety.

"To deliver to this demand, we needed to create packaging that makes the bottles visible, is easy to carry and open, and would not require an entirely new package with each new variety combination," Burget added.

Overall, the variety pack provides CBA with market differentiation as well as sustainable and financial material and transportation savings.

Image: xpedx made 32-ECT, B-flute variety-pack boxes measures 11 3/16in H x 5 13/16in square. Photo: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company