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Markets, opportunities, a comparison of the technologies

Consumers: what they are drinking today and what will they want to drink tomorrow?


“High acid” and “Low acid” beverages

In the field of aseptic bottling technology, that aims at not using preservatives, the grade of acidity of the product is the main factor that influences the choice of technology to be used and the global complexity of the process. Generally, the product acidity is defined by the concentration of ionic hydrogen (H+) present in the solution. The grade of acidity of the substance is measured in pH, which is a scale based on the activity of the ionic hydrogen in watery solution.

This is defined as follows:

"The grade of acidity of the product is the main factor that influences the choice of technology"

Generally almost all commercial soft drinks are acid. The entity of the acidity is however, very important since a major part of the bacteria develops better for values of pH near to neutrality, whereas when the pH diminishes their growth notably slows down. For this reason, in the case of aseptic bottling, two general subdivisions were created, that correspond in general to different production technology.

  • High Acid Beverage (HA), when the pH is equal/lower than 4.5
  • Low Acid Beverage (LA) when the pH is higher than 4.5

The borderline represented by pH 4.5 has microbiological reasons since under said level of pH bacteria of public health significance do not generate concerns for human health.

It is therefore clear as to how some of the most common drinks are suitable for high acid bottling whereas to bottle other drinks, such as those containing milk, it is necesary to use more complex systems dedicated to low acid products, where the reduction of initial contamination represents a higher factor of criticality.


Juices and Nectars

The segment of fruit-based beverages is rather vast and relatively heterogeneous. It comprises at least three large product families: juices, nectars and juice drinks (with a low fruit contents). The difference lies in the quantity of fruit used: 100% for juices (that do not have any added sugar), at least 25% for nectars (that may have added sugar or other sweeteners), and low content for juice drinks.

Juices and nectars
Рис.1.1. Juices and nectars

The low fruit content in juice drinks varies by product and typically has added sugar or other sweeteners. Juices and nectars have an estimated market volume (for the year 2017) of approximately 38 billion liters per year, and juice drinks add an additional 34 billion liters per year. Among the global juice drink volume, almost 30% is represented solely by 100% juices, but there are interesting growth trends in innovative beverages such as smoothies (fruit based drinks of a certain consistency and smoothness thanks to the presence of puree and fruit paste, often combined with yogurt or milk).

Among the major beverage consumers of fruit based drinks, the ranking reveals Canada (with approximately 55 liters per year procapite), Finland (43 liters), Germany (30 litres) and USA (26 litres). The Asia Pacific market alone represents approximately more than one third of the global market.

Global juice drink volume (Millions of liters)
Рис.1.2. Global juice drink volume (Millions of liters) – Soft Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics

Sport Drinks

Sport drinks are beverages designed to act as a supplement during exercise and comprise a vast array of products that range from the complex nutritional solutions for professionals to the most common isotonic products for occasional consumers. These products are widespread among the large retail distribution chains. There are functional differences in this kind of beverages:

  • Isotonics: these have the same saline concentration as body fluids; therefore they rapidly re-integrate liquids and minerals lost through sweating and supply energy thanks to their carbohydrate content.
  • Hypotonics: these contain molecules in inferior concentrations as compared to those found in blood; thereby their re-integration action is faster than those of isotonics, but not so beneficial as carbohydrates.
  • Hypertonics: (with more molecules as compared to blood) normally used to intake carbohydrates after physical exercise in order to top up muscle glycogen stores.
Significant market growth has occurred both in terms of volume and in brands and producers. First place, on a worldwide scale, in terms of consumption per capita goes to the USA, with over 22 liters per person (versus a world average of 2,3 liters) followed by Japan, where the consumption per capita is of 13 liters. The USA ranks as the main reference market where the total consumption is approximately 44% of worldwide consumption. The growth of this segment is estimated to reach 13 billion liters by 2017, with an increase from the current 2,3 liters per capita up to 2,8 litres per head on a worldwide scale. The market with the major growth rate is Latin America (+44% from 2012 to 2017). The Asia Pacific market will experience a growth rate of 21% in the same years.
Global Functional drink value (Millions of liters)
Рис.1.3. Global Functional drink value (Millions of liters) – Soft Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics)

Tea and infusions

Tea is second only to water as the most widely noncarbonated consumed beverage in the world. Despite competition from soft drinks, tea still continues to have a significant success thanks to a number of factors. In addition to its organoleptic features, there are physical and chemical characteristics that render this legendary beverage still very much in fashion and very interesting for the development of innovative products.

Tea and infusions
Рис.1.4. Tea and infusions

Tea’s theanine content (alkaloide molecule structurally undistinguishable from caffeine) has an antidepressant and bland stimulative effect, that does not interfere with the sleep cycle and in general has no negative health effects. Tea is rich in mineral salts (such as fluorides, zinc, potassium, copper and iron) and so-called growth vitamins (group B1 and B2), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin P and others in minor quantities. Scientific evidence of tea properties has permitted tea to become asserted as a healthy product so much so that a number of producers have added to their range diverse versions, theanine-free, light and with biological raw materials, other than the now widespread green tea.

Tea flavouring allows producers to attain various flavours; the most widespread are cold lemon or peach teas; on a lesser successful scale, flavours such as orange, mandarin, apple and mint. Tea is a very delicate product since the various grades of aromas, the natural substances present in the product or the added active principles may undergo alterations during the industrial production process, which may undermine the intent to differentiate it from the others. This is where the bottling technology comes in and plays a decisive role in preserving the peculiarities of the formulations.

Global RTD Tea and Coffee volume (Millions of liters)
Рис.1.5. Global RTD Tea and Coffee volume (Millions of liters) – Soft Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics

Functional Beverages

Functional beverages
Рис.1.6. Functional beverages
Functional beverages are typically vegetable and fruit-based drinks that have an added ingredient targeted to attain a specific function important to health. Various types of ingredients are used, for example: vitamins, mineral salts, anti-oxidising molecules, fibres, probiotic microorganisms, and prebiotic factors (dissolvable fibre).
Functional drinks encounter a rising demand in more advanced markets where consumers search for healthy and natural products without having to resort to diet foods, which are commonly associated with poor taste and have a punitive look-and-feel.

Sparkling products (in aseptic?)

A number of regional markets have shown some interest towards fruit-based beverages with added carbon dioxide. An example of such a product is the German soft drink Fruchtshorle; its most popular version is based on apple juice. The level of CO2 is lower as compared to traditional sparkling drinks, whereas the high level of sugar contents makes this drink sensitive. Aseptic technology permits to bottle these products by eliminating the need to add preservatives. Given their contents of CO2, such products call for isobaric filling systems.

Milk-based products

Low acid milk-based beverages, fermented milk or yogurt with aromas or other ingredients are the main products of this category. Among these there are already many consolidated references comprising milk and coffee, milk and chocolate, smoothies and milkshakes.
Milk-based products
Рис.1.7. Milk-based products
These beverages are widely consumed in Northern Europe, Japan and in the United States where they are valued for their rich protein contribution. These markets also descend from a tradition of major milk consumption.
In other countries such as central Europe there are significant signs of development for milk-based products so much so as to predict a shifting away from sparkling drinks as has occurred in the last few years in other countries.
Global UHT milk and Milk based products volume (Millions in liters)
Рис.1.8. Global UHT milk and Milk based products volume (Millions in liters) – Packaged Food: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics

UHT Milk

Milk is an emulsion of fats and water of animal origin that contains sugar, proteins, non-protein nitrogen substances, mineral salts, vitamins and numerous enzymes. Right from the beginning of time, mankind has consumed preferably cow and sheep’s milk, and on a lesser scale goat’s milk.
The chemical composition of milk depends on the animal species. When one speaks of milk generally cow milk is intended. The milk we find on sale is standardized in terms of fat contents, homogenized, pasteurized (short/medium shelf life under refrigeration) or sterilized (long shelf life at ambient temperature). Thermal treatment of pasteurization brings milk to a temperature of around 72°C for at least 15 seconds. The UHT treatment (Ultra High Temperature) is a particular sterilization technique which consists in treating milk at temperatures between 135°C and 145°C for 3 to 4 seconds, depending on the quality of the raw milk and the type of plant. In an “indirect system” plant milk sterilization is performed by means of a heat exchanger, while in a “direct system” plant milk sterilization occurs by means of direct contact with a warming fluid (water steam). Milk is then cooled at ambient temperature and packaged under aseptic conditions.
UHT Milk
Рис.1.9. UHT Milk

Historical perspective: Evolution of the technology from the Roman era to our day and age


"Aseptic" technology in the Roman era

The word Aseptic originates from the Greek term Septic meaning putrid or producing putrefaction. Aseptic thereby denotes preventing putrefaction or not subject to infection. It is customary to associate the denomination Aseptic to modern times but in a certain sense, this is not really true. As a matter of fact, one could almost debate on the fact that we could be considered pioneers of Aseptic techniques and moreover that Aseptic is a recent innovation of our times, since the first notions of beverage preservation date back even to the Roman era.
The most primitive Roman stratagems, in terms of food and beverage preservation, principally entailed boiling, salting, drying and acidification. Milk, for instance, for preservation purposes, was acidified with vinegar and onion. Our Roman ancestors had to find a way of preserving their grapes. What better way to preserve grapes than to produce wine! 
The texture of the wine produced in that period did not resemble the one we are used to drinking nowadays since the Roman methods of conservation such as boiling, produced a very syrupy kind of beverage. It was rather widespread in Roman times, to flavour wine with resin, spices and sea water. These so-called additives had the dual purpose of acting not only as preservatives but also of covering the taste of the wine that very gradually inevitably turned into vinegar. Once the wine was produced, the Romans too had to find a way of bottling, capping and storing it.
The first notions of beverage preservation date back even to the Roman era
Рис.1.10. The first notions of beverage preservation date back even to the Roman era

The Roman "filling, capping and storage process"

Examples of Romans’ airtight terracotta Amphoraes
Рис.1.11. Examples of Romans’ airtight terracotta Amphoraes
The Romans poured their wine into airtight terracotta Amphoraes (ceramic type containers with narrow necks); these amphoraes were then sealed by simply applying clay or resins over the neck of the amphoraes. As in our day and age the market continuously focuses on developing new bottle shapes , the Romans too developed, through time, diverse types of amphorae of different weights and forms. To effectively seal the amphoraes, the Romans made ample use of vegetable resins. The books moreover record findings of calcic soaps on the interior walls of the amphorae which subsequently leads to the belief that oil and lime were used in creating said effective sealing concoctions. The Romans soon discovered that cooling stopped the growth of bacteria, therefore in order to conserve their foodstuffs and wine they housed their goods in cool places such as caves, used as cellars.
During the winter months the Romans managed to maintain their cellars cool by filling them up with snow which was fetched daily from the nearby mountains.
Historical data illustrate that the snow was pressed, placed on top of layers of straw and then covered with layers of dry leaves.
The Ancient Roman "Filling capping and storage" modus operandi described above, although very primeval, plainly witnesses that the Romans were in a sense, forerunners of our contemporary and rather more sophisticated, Aseptic Filling process.

Technologies to meet market demand


Use of preservatives

One of the most common methods used in the past to overcome the perishibility of sensitive beverages is the use of preservatives. This conservation technique, despite its efficacy, is sometimes questioned due to the possible harmful effects that these substances may have on one’s health if used over long periods of time. While sterilization and the aseptic production techniques don’t alter the composition of the product, preservatives remain in the product after processing. Many preservatives and food additives have known side effects if consumed in large quantities or may in a large number of cases give rise to allergic reactions. The presence of preservatives in soft drinks also has a potential negative influence on the consumer who is increasingly more attracted towards healthy products.
Use of preservatives
Рис.1.12. Use of preservatives

Hot fill

The hot fill concept basically entails that it is the product itself, bottled at high temperatures (85-95°C) that sterilizes the bottle and the cap. This system is particularly efficient with glass bottles that are not subjected to deformations at high temperatures. In order to attain reliable hot fill line operations without sacrificing the product quality too much, it is necessary to take some critical points into account and to solve them.
In the first place, it is necessary to obtain a balanced adjustment between temperature and contact time in order to minimize possible variations in colour and taste and the wearing off of the aromas, vitamins, active principals inside the product; therefore it is imperative to cool the product gradually straight after the filling cycle.
Secondly, it is imperative to monitor the temperature of all the surfaces in contact with the product; if the temperature drops below the pre-set value, microbiological problems might arise in the production phase. This is why line stoppages represent a problem; many hot fill lines presently use a recirculation system that permits a defined product quantity to continue to circulate inside the filling valve even when the system is at a standstill; the product crosses a recovery manifold, it is collected in a second tank and relaunched to the pasteurizer to return afterwards back to the filler.
This system permits the filling valve temperature to remain constant regardless of the filler speed and possible interruptions. On the other hand, if a significant quantity of product undergoes a further thermal treatment (following numerous interruptions), this will lead to degradation of the organoleptic qualities of the end product.
The diffusion of PET bottles has determined the rise of new concerns for the hot fill technology: in fact it is not possible to use standard PET bottles in a hot fill line: they would simply collapse due to the high temperature.
Typically “heat set” bottles are used in hot fill technology, they have been developed to resist temperatures of 85-95°C, the neck area, since this is the most critical zone, is heavier as compared to the standard bottle and is subjected to a recrystallization process during its production.
Moreover, the shape of these bottles is subject to restrictions since it has to be studied with appropriate “panels” so as it may expand after filling and retract during cooling. Thereby these bottles are more complicated to produce, heavier and therefore more expensive.
The same remarks apply to the caps: heavier and more expensive. Even though in the last years the technology has provided solutions to these problems, such as the re-shaping bottom bottle, that allows bottle lightweighting, some restrictions continue to apply for hot fill; in particular, the range of products that may be processed is rather limited and does not include low acid beverages. From an operational point of view, intermediate cleaning cycles for external surfaces are required during production in order to avoid the product from dirtying the filling valve, especially when dealing with products containing pulps and fibres.
A hot fill line requires an accurate product formulation to counteract the spoilage and/or degradation of some components, such as vitamins and aromas due to temperature.
The high energy consumption in order to heat and cool the product must also be taken into account when determining running costs.
On the other hand, the hot fill technology is generally simpler than an aseptic line and has a lower initial investment cost.
Hot fill
Рис.1.13. Hot fill

Ultra-clean filling

The aim of ultra-clean technology is to fill and handle containers under hygienic conditions and consequently significantly reduce the microbial load inside the container. Depending on the type of product and the supply chain management it is thus possible to guarantee a longer shelf-life using reduced quantity of preservatives or eliminating them.
Ultra-clean technology is now relevant in the field of milk-based products and ESL (Extended Shelf-Life): by combining ultra clean technology with the cold supply chain it is possible to guarantee an adequate shelf life (60 days or over) for products such as drinkable yoghurt and flavoured milk with simpler production systems as compared to an aseptic line.
Ultra-clean filling
Рис.1.14. Ultra-clean filling
The environment of the filling area is normally controlled with pressurizers fitted with HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air) that maintain it in slight overpressure as compared to the surrounding environment.
Sanitization of the containers is performed using different ferent chemical means; in any case the performances requested in terms of logarithmic reductions are much lower than those of an aseptic application, normally no more than 3 log of the reference target organism. Sanitization of the caps is possible using either a high pressure UV ray treatment (if correctly handled), or by using a chemical treatment, with reduced chemical concentrations and shorter treatment times. The possibility of using ultra clean technology for filling sensitive products depends on many critical parameters that may intervene:
  • Product Recipe
  • Temperature of the supply chain of the end product
  • Required shelf life
In any case, it is not possible to guarantee the repeatability of the process, in particular as compared to certain circumstances (presence of particularly contaminated containers, increase in environmental contamination due to external factors).
Ultra clean Hot fill Aseptic fillling
Initial cost Minor initial investment Minor initial investment Significant initial investment
Container Costs

Light weight bottles and caps: Lower costs

Heavy bottles and caps: Higher costs Lightweight bottles and caps: Lower costs
Personalised containers Personalised Bottles without limitations Scarse possibility of personalised bottles Personalised Bottles without any limitations
Product Treatment Minor thermal treatment on the product A more invasive thermal treatment on the product (especially in the event of an increase in the rate of product recirculation) Minor thermal treatment on the product
Distribution Costs Significant Storage and distribution costs (when using cold chain product distribution) Low storage and distribution costs (distribution at ambient room temperature) Low storage and distribution costs (distribution at ambient room temperature)
Running of the line The line must be run by average skilled operators The line can be run by operators with basic line experience The line must be run by highly skilled line operators
Shelf life Up to 60 days for sensitive products in the cold chain Long shelf life of the product (up to 1 year) Long shelf life of the product (up to 1 year)
Таблица. 1.1. Comparison between the characteristics of ultra clean filling, hot fill and aseptic technology

Aseptic Filling

Aseptic filling is the most advanced technology for the filling of PET bottles with sensitive beverages. A modern aseptic bottling line for sensitive beverages is essentially composed of:
  • A container sterilization system for either bottles or preforms;
  • A cap sterilization system;
  • A filling machine capable of filling and capping containers in aseptic conditions;
  • An environmental contamination control system;
  • A series of processes that feed the system with necessary fluids (nitrogen, air, water) at optimum conditions for proper functioning.
“The elimination of clean room and the simpification have globally boosted the market of aseptic lines worldwide ”
The elimination of the clean room used in the past for environmental contamination control, and the simplification of the line running procedures, have globally boosted the market for aseptic lines worldwide. Many bottlers have invested in this sector to produce premium segment beverages - innovative drinks in appealing containers. The technological evolution in the last few years has permitted the supply of more compact and reliable lines that guarantee maximum versatility: it is now common to treat a wide variety of containers on the same line without having to perform long format changeovers. A modern aseptic line can fill a vast array of beverages, both still and sparkling, at high speed. Although it represents a major investment as compared to the cost of a hot fill line, an aseptic line permits the use of PET containers which are lighter in comparison. This leads to savings that speed up the investment returns. Moreover, the aseptic technology permits the filling of personalised bottles for greater end-user appeal.
With these capabilities, aseptic technology will become the main technology for filling sensitive products in the next few years, allowing production of high quality beverages packaged in appealing containers, in a variety of flavours, in line with market demand that is continuously changing.
Aseptic Filling is usually achieved by sterilizing the bottles; its latest development, Aseptic Blow- Fill, sterilizes the preform.
Aseptic Filling with bottle sterilization flow chart
Рис.1.15. Aseptic Filling with bottle sterilization flow chart

Aseptic Blow Filling

The growing need from the market for a more sustainable and user-friendly solution for PET Aseptic Filling is leading all the major specialist to develop Aseptic Blow Filling technology. The basic concept
of Aseptic Blow Filling is to sterilize the preforms instead of bottles and keep them sterile until their exit from the microbiological isolator.
It is a technology where Blower and Filler are coupled together. The main feature is that once the preforms become sterile, wherever it happens, they must be kept in a sterile environment, avoiding any
kind of re-contamination. This is possible only by ensuring that the environment in which the sterile preforms and bottles move is sterilizable and cleanable throughout.
The sterile parts of the machine must be enclosed in a microbiological isolator that generates an overpressure of filtrated sterile air avoiding any kind of contact with external non-sterile components and air. Preform sterilization is performed before the blower: the sterile area must be defined from the blower to the exit tunnel.
Preform sterilization is usually done using Hydrogen Peroxide, which is chemically most active at very high temperatures. There is no danger of shrinkage of the preforms at high temperature as they are very thick, heat resistant and exposed to high temperatures in the oven anyway.
The Aseptic Blow Filling machine is composed of:
  • An oven for preform heating (aseptic or non aseptic);
  • A preform sterilization system (located before the aseptic blower);
  • An aseptic blower;
  • A cap sterilization system;
  • A filling machine capable of filling and capping containers in aseptic conditions;
  • An environmental contamination control system (microbiological isolator);
  • A series of process machines that feed the system with necessary fluids (nitrogen, air, water) at optimum conditions for proper functioning.
Aseptic Blow Filling has different positive aspects compared with Aseptic Filling with standard Blower. It is completely innovative and it uses dry technology sterilization on preforms based on H2O2 that could be VHP (Vapour Hydrogen Peroxide) or CHP (Condensate Hydrogen Peroxide). Both technologies are available and widely accepted by the market. Moreover it is environmentally friendly as there is no need to rinse with water, thus leading to a reduction in sterilization media consumption and power. It occupies less space as there is no need for air conveyors and bottle sterilization/rinsing carousels and, last but not least, lighter bottles mean less PET usage. By sterilizing preforms there are no limits on the weight of the bottles; the only limit is the bottle designer’s creativity.
Aseptic Blow Filling with preform sterilization flow chart
Рис.1.16. Aseptic Blow Filling with preform sterilization flow chart

Advantages and disadvantages of containers for beverages



Glass container
Рис.1.17. Glass container

Glass is a material with a very long history. The manufacturing of glass finds its roots in ancient Egypt, back in the II millennium B.C. Its use as a container for liquids started and expanded rather rapidly around first century A.C. thanks to innovations in blowing techniques carried out by craftsmen in the Roman Empire. Glass has always been used in the past centuries as a container for preservation purposes, for demonstrating and storing food, beverages and items without altering their taste, flavour, aroma, perfume and colour.

Glass is obtained by fusion at a temperature of at least 1200° C in special pit furnaces covered with special heat-resistant materials, of silicate sand with sodium carbonates and calcium. These materials are first transformed into oxides and then through fusion and after cooling, into a viscous liquid. The container is created from this liquid, using two methods: blow-blow and press-blow.

Both methods use a series of shape and finish moulds to obtain the shape of the object or container. Bottles are obtained preferably with the blow-blow method, as a drop of melted glass is left to drop into the shape mould. The first blow will create an uneven shape that will create the finished bottle once transferred into the finish mould and submitted to a second blowing.
Whereas in the 70’s and 80’s glass returnable containers were common, nowadays the majority of bottles produced are one-way. In the first case the bottles used were re-transported to the factory and were subjected to a very harsh washing treatment with bottle washers with significant costs before being re-filled; in the second instance, a simple rinse is performed on the new bottle and used bottles may be recycled into new ones.
Among the advantages of glass in the beverage market, recycling and reuse of returnable containers must be taken into account, even though this latter feature is strongly dependent on the type of product and consumer and distributor requirements. From a physical point of view, glass constitutes a good barrier for oxygen and carbon dioxide. Disadvantages include its fragility, its weight and the cost of the one-way bottles.

Polylaminate carton

Polylaminate carton
Рис.1.18. Polylaminate carton
Originating in 1950 as a container for milk, the polylaminate carton package is composed of multi-layers of materials including carton, plastic materials and thin metal layer sheets. This type of packaging has seen a vast expansion in the beverage sector thanks to two important advantages: its rectangular shape which is very efficient for reduction in space and the low cost of the packaging. The polylaminate carton does however have diverse disadvantages for example: it is not easily recycled (given the fact that the container is composed of different types of materials), it is difficult to attain different shapes and it is impossible to see the product inside.
PET is an acronym for Polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic material which is part of the polyester family and can be used for food contact applications. PET is perfectly transparent, light, shock-resistant and can be produced in different colours.


PET is an acronym for Polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic material which is part of the polyester family and can be used for food contact applications. PET is perfectly transparent, light, shock-resistant and can be produced in different colours.
PET bottle
Рис.1.19. PET bottle

The production of bioriented bottles in PET occurs in two phases:

  • The first phase consists in creating a preform by injection mould of melted PET at 280-300°C in appropriate moulds with particular characteristics in terms of shape and thickness depending on the type of final bottle.
  • The second phase entails blowing of the preform, at a temperature of 105-110°C, with a simultaneous axial and radial stretch.
The stretching confers to the bottle a bioriented structure, improving its mechanical resistance and gas barrier properties.
The use of PET bottles started to become widespread within the beverage industry in the late 70’s. PET use started in the mineral water sector and the CSD and then expanded in the juices, fresh milk, wine and liqueurs market. PET has recently entered in the beer sector, thanks to new systems for coating of the bottles to increase barrier properties against oxygen and carbon dioxide. Additionally, there is a current study in process concerning additives which, if added to liquid PET prior to injection in the preform moulds, confer improved UV or oxygen barrier properties to the material.
PET containers have many advantages, such as a high shock-resistance, great transparency, lightness, the possibility of producing tailor-made bottles with original shapes and a good barrier against carbon dioxide. Today PET can be easily recycled, with systems now able to recycle the material to produce new bottles using 100% of material coming from old bottles. The compatibility of PET for food contact is sanctioned by norms 2002/72/CE of the European commission and subsequent modifications (2004/19/CE).


HDPE container
Рис.1.20. HDPE container
HDPE or High Density Polyethylene is a thermoplastic resin obtained by polymerization of ethylene. If offers a good mechanical resistance combined with lightweight. Its resistance to acids and organic solvents has enabled a widespread use of this material for containers for food oils and petrochemical products.
The transparency of such a material is however scarce or inexistent which represents an advantage in terms of acting as a barrier against light but a disadvantage for the consumer as it is impossible to perceive the contents of the container.
In the last few years a strong impulse has been given to research multilayer solutions (inside and outside of bottles made in PET or PE integrated with one layer made of a different plastic); the result is an opaque bottle, with excellent barrier properties but rather costly; this in fact has had a negative impact on its use in the market. The competition of PET is gradually reducing the use of HDPE in the beverage market following the introduction of improved barrier properties for PET bottles.


Рис.1.21. Can
The use of cans for beverages started in the 1930s, but the aluminium cans we all see today only came into common use at the end of 1950s. Aluminium is less costly than tinplated steel but offers the same resistance to corrosion and greater malleability making them easier to manufacture.
Most aluminium cans are made of two pieces. They are generally produced through a mechanical cold forming process that starts with punching a flat blank from very stiff cold-rolled sheet. The flat blank is first formed into a small cup that is then pushed through an ‘ironing’ process which forms an open-top can. Cans are filled before the top is crimped on.
The beverages that are usually packed in cans are: carbonated soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, fruit juices, teas, tisanes or energy drinks.


Flexible pouch
Рис.1.22. Flexible pouch
Pouches are flexible containers for beverages made usually of multilayer materials. They can be barrier films, such as oxygen barrier or light barrier, depending on the product requirements. Pouches are offered usually with re-closable caps and can have a variety of shapes and sizes.
They use very few materials compared with other packaging types but, as they do not have any top load resistance, they need a strong secondary packaging for transportation and warehousing.

Caps, closures, fitments

The caps cover a decisive role in preserving quality and are the main interface between product and consumers.

The pre-threaded plastic cap is the most commonly used method for hermetically sealing PET bottles upon completion of the filling cycle. The pre-threaded caps in plastic are obtained by means of injection moulding of PVC, HDPE and other plastic materials. They are normally supplied with a tamper evident seal that stays on the bottle once the closure is opened for the first time.
The market now offers a number of caps with different diameters; the diameters most frequently used are 28mm for sparkling beverages and 38mm for non-sparkling beverages. Depending on the number of threads, the cap is either single-threaded, double-threaded or triple-threaded.
There are also sport caps that permit consumers to drink the beverage directly through the cap. In some cases, an aluminium foil sealed on the bottle neck guarantees the bottle seal.
The perfect sealing between cap and bottle neck is a fundamental target for the success of the entire aseptic filling process, whereas the inviolability represents a requirement, above all in the low-acid aseptic field. For this reason the analysis of cap performances represents an important step in the design stages of the container for aseptic applications.
In the last few years the caps have had to respond to increasingly higher performances under diverse aspects:
Sealing Guarantee
  • To maintain the sealing during the entire shelf-life of the product
  • To maintain the sealing even if the product is exposed to temperatures above or below those of storage
  • To maintain the sealing also in the event of mechanical stress due to transport
  • In the event of product contamination and consequent fermentation, it is possible that the pressure inside the single bottle will increase significantly. This will create a risk for the consumer, as when the bottle is opened, the over pressure inside will cause the cap to thrust open and therefore may end up harming the consumer. This is why the cap must be manufactured so that a gradual depressurization occurs when it is still applied to the bottle.
Tamper evident band used to ensure product integrity
  • very cap has a seal ring connected to the rest of it by means of bridges. The opening of the cap normally leads first to the breakage of the bridges and afterwards, to loss of sealing. In this way it is possible to visually verify that the bottle is no longer in aseptic conditions.
Reduction in weight and dimensions
  • The dimensions of the caps have gradually been reduced with the introduction of double and triple thread caps, as an alternative to the single-threaded cap. The risk is that a minimum rotation could lead to loss of sealing. In order to minimize this risk, it is fundamental to ensure that the capper performs a perfect closure torque application. This is why many cappers are now equipped with brushless gear drives that apply the required closure torque regardless of the line speed.
Easy-to-open closures for the consumers
  • Possibility of attaining the sealing performance without having to apply such a strong closure torque that makes it difficult for a certain category of consumers to open (children, elderly, ecc...)
Active functions
  • The cap can also be considered as active packaging: there are oxygen scavenging caps that absorb the oxygen inside the head space of the bottle and thereby prevent the product from oxidising.
Рис.1.23. Caps


  1. Introduction
  2. 1.Markets, opportunities, a comparison of the technologies
    1. 1.1. “High acid” and “Low acid” beverages
    2. 1.2. Juices and Nectars
    3. 1.3. Sport Drinks
    4. 1.4. Tea and infusions
    5. 1.5. Functional Beverages
    6. 1.6. Milk-based products
    7. 1.6.1. UHT Milk
    8. 1.7. Historical perspective: Evolution of the technology from the Roman era to our day and age
    9. 1.7.1. "Aseptic" technology in the Roman era
    10. 1.7.2. The Roman "filling, capping and storage process"
    11. 1.8. Technologies to meet market demand
    12. 1.8.1. Use of preservatives
    13. 1.8.2. Hot fill
    14. 1.8.3. Ultra-clean filling
    15. 1.8.4. Aseptic Filling
    16. 1.8.5. Aseptic Blow Filling
    17. 1.9. Advantages and disadvantages of containers for beverages
    18. 1.9.1. Glass
    19. 1.9.2. Polylaminate carton
    20. 1.9.3. PET
    21. 1.9.4. HDPE
    22. 1.9.5. Cans
    23. 1.9.6. Pouches
    24. 1.10. Caps, closures, fitments
  3. 2.The right direction of sustainability
    1. 2.1. Material
    2. 2.2. Energy
    3. 2.3. Space
    4. 2.4. Time
  4. 3.Thermal treatment for product
    1. 3.1. Heat Exchangers for Liquid Products
    2. 3.1.1. Plate Heat Exchanger
    3. 3.1.2. Single Tube Heat Exchanger
    4. 3.1.3. Multi Tube Heat Exchanger
    5. 3.1.4. Triple Tube Heat Exchanger
    6. 3.1.5. Spiral Tube Heat Exchangers
    7. 3.1.6. Scraped Surface Heat Exchangers
    8. 3.2. Indirect and Direct Heating
    9. 3.3. Direct Heating UHT and ESL Designs
    10. 3.3.1. Direct Injection
    11. 3.3.2. Direct infusion
    12. 3.4. The best heat exchanger for your application
    13. 3.4.1. Heat Damage to food
    14. 3.4.2. System Selection Criteria
    15. 3.5. Conclusions
  5. 4.Understanding aseptic filling technology
    1. 4.1. Aseptic technology: an integrated system, not a series of connected machines.
    2. 4.2. Structure of an aseptic filling line
    3. 4.2.1. Sterilization
    4. 4.2.2. Container sterilization
    5. 4.3. Treatment of containers
    6. 4.3.1. Peroxyacetic Acid (POAA or PAA)
    7. 4.3.2. H2O2
    8. 4.4. PAA WET container sterilization
    9. 4.5. PAA vapour container sterilization
    10. 4.6. H2O2 CHP container sterilization
    11. 4.7. H2O2 VHP container sterilization
    12. 4.8. Preform sterilization technology
    13. 4.8.1. CHP sterilization
    14. 4.8.2. VHP sterilization
    15. 4.9. Cap sterilization technology
    16. 4.9.1. PAA spray sterilization
    17. 4.10. PAA immersion sterilization
    18. 4.10.1. CHP sterilization
    19. 4.10.2. VHP sterilization
    20. 4.10.3. Pre-sterilized caps handling
    21. 4.11. Energy-based sterilization without chemicals
    22. 4.11.1. UV light sterilization
    23. 4.11.2. Pulsed light sterilization
    24. 4.11.3. Ionizing radiation Sterilization
    25. 4.11.4. Electron beam sterilization
    26. 4.12. Aseptic Filling
    27. 4.12.1. Volumetric electronic filling
    28. 4.12.2. Weight filling
    29. 4.12.3. Other filling technologies
    30. 4.13. Capping
    31. 4.14. Bottle handling
    32. 4.15. Ancillary process equipment
    33. 4.15.1. Sterilizing solution production
    34. 4.16. Sterile water production
    35. 4.16.1. Utilities and fluids handling
    36. 4.16.2. CIP, SIP, COP, SOP
    37. 4.16.3. Integration of ancillary process units
    38. 4.16.4. Piping
    39. 4.16.5. Simplification of line handling
    40. 4.16.6. Radiation-based fluids sterilization
    41. 4.17. Line automation
  6. 5.Your new Aseptic Line
    1. 5.1. Preliminary Checklist
    2. 5.1.1. Volumes
    3. 5.1.2. Products
    4. 5.1.3. Design
    5. 5.1.4. Costs
    6. 5.1.5. Centralising production
    7. 5.2. Evaluation of the investment
    8. 5.2.1. Choose according to your own needs: the value curve
    9. 5.2.2. How to measure the performances of an aseptic line
  7. 6.Good maintenance: the best way to preserve the value of the investment
    1. 6.1. Service Culture
    2. 6.2. TPM
  8. 7.Improved safety: for the product, for operators and for the environment
    1. 7.1. Microbic Contamination
    2. 7.2. Contamination Control
    3. 7.3. Microbiological Isolator
    4. 7.4. Air Filtration
    5. 7.5. Differential Pressures
  9. 8.Aseptic filling and FDA
    1. 8.1. FDA Validation
    2. 8.2. Electronic Validation
    3. 8.2.1. GAMP 4 Module
    4. 8.3. Paper Recording vs Electronic Recording
  10. 9.Sell Aseptic to sell "more" and sell "better"
  11. 10.The Future of Aseptic
  12. Conclusions
  13. Addendum
    1. 1. Thermal treatment for products

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