Tetra Pak launches accelerator program to speed product development

Dive Brief:

  • Tetra Pak has launched its Leap Accelerator Program, according to a press release. The company will offer brands the help of its experts and contractor manufacturers to formulate products and target new consumption occasions, develop packaging and promotions, as well as help with consistency and scalability. 
  • Some of the products the accelerator program could support include dairy- and plant-based foods, as well as beverages with high acidity, according to Pedro Goncalves, Tetra Pak’s vice president of marketing for the U.S. and Canada. 
  • The accelerator comes as a growing number of CPG companies, including Kraft Heinz and General Mills, try to create more sustainable products, from the ingredients to packaging.

Dive Insight:

Tetra Pak has six innovation centers globally where food scientists develop and test products on a variety of packaging materials. This includes one in the U.S., located in Denton, Texas, which develops and packages protein supplements, cheese and plant-based foods.

Operating the centers has given Tetra Pak knowledge of how the food industry has shifted and how it can best help brands going forward, according to Goncalves. The momentum for sustainable packaging, in particular, has picked up over the last year. Corona released circular packaging made from barley straw in March, while Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars debuted fully recyclable plastic wrappers this past spring.

Despite the growth, Goncalves said the food industry does not have many innovation houses or incubators where companies can test products, compared to industries like electronics. In the innovation kitchen at Tetra Pak facilities, Goncalves said brands can test process and heat various types of foods and liquids, which he said helps product development go from conceptualization to production faster.

He said the company’s accelerator program and packaging and processing technology can formulate products for brands “without spoiling the flavors and properties of the product,” noting Tetra Pak has avoided the use of preservatives in new product development for over 60 years. This expertise could be even more relevant today, at a time when consumers are increasingly concerned about the presence of artificial preservatives and other ingredients in food. 

Tetra Pak has worked to establish its aseptic packaging as not only a sustainable option but also one that is well equipped to the demands of modern food production. According to the company, it prioritizes treating products “gently,” as well as minimizing “the use of raw materials and energy during manufacture and subsequent distribution.” 

Brands that currently use Tetra Pak’s packaging include Danone’s Horizon Organic milk and E&J Gallo’s Barefoot wine. The company believes this specialized approach to packaging and food processing gives it some insight into what’s required to help set up a new food or beverage brand for success. 

“There are a lot of companies over the years that have come to us with really great ideas, and we saw some of them fail because they could not find the place to sort out the industrial production,” Goncalves said.

The only way for companies to remain relevant in the current competitive CPG market, he said, is to embrace “outside innovation” to meet shifting consumer desires.

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