What can we learn from K-cups?
The most popular K-Cup packaging application is, definitely, as a single-serve coffee container for coffee brewing. If you decided to join many brands that utilize K-Cups, you made a wise decision, since today, many homes and offices have K-Cup machines for individual serving size and flavors.
K-Cups brought revolution. The coffee pods’ share of total coffee sales in 2000 was almost negligible, but, with the launch of K-Cups, this market was taken by storm, commanding a strong 34% share of total coffee sales in 2014.
K-Cups are also an inspiring topic in terms of packaging. There are many significant lessons we can learn by just looking at K-Cups, their development, and principles they apply. So, what are the most important lessons we can extract?
- The package as an innovation – Be creative
Innovative packaging can change the way consumers perceive a product, and it can also help a product penetrate new markets. Just like stick pack revolutionized the way we use sugar (learn more here), Keurig’s coffee machines and K-cups brought a whole new way of brewing coffee, creating a new market.
Lesson? Be creative and persistent with your ideas! In the beginning, creators of K-cups were making the pods by hand. The prototype brewing machines were also a work in progress and unreliable, and the company needed funds for development. After pitching to numerous potential investors, they finally obtained $50,000 from Minneapolis-based investor Food Fund in 1994, and later the Cambridge-based fund MDT Advisers contributed $1,000,000.
- Space-saving – Be economic
K-cups are transported and stored in carton boxes and they need to be packed in a certain manner that saves space. Good K-Cup packaging system can invert every-other cup, so the cups interleave and minimize space usage in the box. That means more K-cups can fit into one carton. This is exactly how you should treat your floor space when you are acquiring any type of industrial line. No matter how big your space is, you don’t want to clutter it with huge machines and massive pieces of equipment. Find a manufacturer that can meet your specific needs and develop a custom solution with respect to your floor space.
- Recycling – Be eco-friendly
As fascinating as they are, K-cups fail when it comes to recycling. The K-cup system has a lot of pretty demanding technical requirements in terms of being able to withstand a certain amount of temperature, to have a certain kind of rigidity, to provide the right kind of moisture barriers and oxygen barriers etc. So, recycling isn’t the simplest challenge. Keurig has been publicly criticized by environmental advocates and journalists for the billions of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable K-Cups consumers’ purchase and dispose of every year, which end up in landfills. Don’t let this happen to you! Being eco-friendly and taking care of the environment is one of the top requirements for companies in the 21st century, so make sure your packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.
- Authenticity – Stick with the original
Only licensed and standardized K-cups can be used with Keurig’s coffee machines. There are a large number of unlicensed coffee pods on the market and even though they are cheaper, their use is not recommended as they can damage your coffee machine. Use of strictly licensed K-cups may seem expensive in the short term, but in the long term, it saves money because it makes your coffee machine last longer. Same goes for purchasing printer cartridges, mobile phone chargers or spare parts for an industrial machine – always buy from a reliable manufacturer. This is the only way to be sure that materials or add-ons you bought are fully compatible with the system you already have.
After going through these lessons, it is no longer a surprise that K-cups are such a success. If you are in the coffee brewing business and want to get your share of profit in this market, your next step is finding the right packaging system that will allow you to quickly pack and ship your K-Cups to the final users.
The most important requirement for K-Cup packaging machines is being able to handle the cups coming in, top –up, at a very high rate of speed (sometimes up to 900 cups per minute) and inverting every-other cup in order to save space.
Start by checking out Tishma Technologies TT-50 vertical cartoner. Our 50 Series cartoners feature user-friendly PLC’s combined with mechanical, state-of-the-art simplicity, and besides K-Cups, they are also very convenient for Fruit Cups and Yogurt packaging.