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Building up a complete knowledge of the product

The Drinks Report talks to David Peters, creative development manager at API, about its role in the drinks trade and products to keep an eye out for

David Peters API

Does API have a global/regional supply?

At API we are uniquely positioned to supply customers globally with our full range of foil, laminate, and holographic products to enhance and embellish their drinks packaging. With our global manufacturing base we can work with brand owners in any region as a key designated partner. This ensures that our customers can source their laminate boards and foils locally, rather than having to rely on an extended supply chain, thus helping to provide both the consistency and continuity of supply now demanded.

Size of company – turnover/people/sales?

API Group has close to 600 employees across 14 sites – that includes manufacturing, distribution, and service operations – in Europe, North America, and Asia.

We know that API produces foil laminate for cartons and outer packaging for the drinks trade, please describe in more detail the products the company produces.

As well as our range of laminates, we also produce decorative hot and cold foils for a variety of drinks applications, including wines, beers and spirits. By combining API’s products with today’s latest print techniques and packaging materials we enhance cartons, labels and caps – and can be seen on a wide range of leading drinks brands around the world.

How long have you been supplying the drinks trade? And for which drinks are the products best suited?

API has been supplying packaging materials to the drinks sector for as long as foil has been used on packaging! As a pioneer in its field, and with historical links to the Scotch whisky industry in particular, API has been a major supplier of packaging enhancements across the drinks sector for decades.

Within drinks – as within all categories – our products are best-suited to premium / luxury brands. Our foils, laminates and holographics are designed to combine with the packaging materials and print to let products stand out on shelf, enhancing the finished product and catching the customers eye in an increasingly competitive retail environment.

What are your newest products?

One of our latest products is our new, improved TA+ cold foil, which we recently launched at Labelexpo Europe. It’s our most advanced cold foil to date, and offers pack designers and printers exceptionally fine detail and the capability to cover large solid areas, as well as outstanding over-printability, meaning there is no limit to the range of colours and effects they can produce.

Separately the launch of our recent custom decorative holography service, Holonique Boutique, enables brands to access API’s specialist knowledge of holography and 3D Designs, so they can add an extra dimension. The bright colours and dynamic movement of a hologram, together with the traditional print on a pack, add the kind of depth with which consumers love to interact and is becoming increasingly relevant to products across the drinks sector.

Have you made any recent technological advances? Please describe

We are continually advancing our technological capabilities, as shown by our recent investments in the production capabilities at both our Livingston facility in Scotland and our North American Center of Packaging Excellence in Lawrence, Kansas. Ensuring our manufacturing sites around the world have the latest technology means that we can provide customers with the latest premium packaging embellishments to empower their brands worldwide.

How are you marketing your techniques to the drink producers?

It is a real combination of activities. We keep in contact with key stakeholders throughout the supply chain, helping printers, designers and brand owners understand our materials and how they can best use our technologies as an integral part of their overall packaging.

One way we do this is through our annual Trends Folio, which acts as a source of inspiration on the latest packaging trends. Many of our team come from design and packaging backgrounds and so we understand how creatives and agencies appreciate a helping hand, and our Trend Folio is the perfect way for us to deliver this.

What distinguishes your product from others in the market?

Overall, it’s our approach to ensure that we understand each customer’s products and make sure that our packaging solutions are truly relevant to their brand values. Our designers work closely with in-house teams from the beginning of the pack development process, building up a complete knowledge of the product’s unique personality and communicating that vital x-factor through the final packaging to the customer.

What do you see as the latest trends in packaging/brand owner requirements and do your products reflect this?

Our Trends Folio uses our years of experience working with customers globally to outline the latest trends in luxury and premium packaging, and how the intelligent use of foils, laminates, and holographics can complement them. It’s a key part of how we act as a creative partner to every brand we work with, helping them to further their strategic development and develop their unique packaging solution.

How important is sustainability/environmental issues (Lightweighting/use of recycled materials etc) to the brand owner…and your company?

Customers are increasingly aware of the need to deliver packaging that not only offers brand impact but is also environmentally sustainable and this remains a key challenge for the packaging industry.

Sustainability has therefore always been important to API – something shown by the fact that we were one of the first companies in the industry to achieve the ISO 14001 environmental management qualification – and is also seen in the range of products we deliver.

How are you meeting this challenge/demands from the brand owners?

One way that we have responded to this challenge is through Transmet, a film-free laminate option for paper and paperboard that retains the luxury feel and standout quality of our other laminates while offering impeccable sustainability credentials.

Similarly, our popular OneBoard has been further enhanced to provide customers with a whiter finish and full Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification – both of which help it meet the demand for environmentally-sensitive and impactful packaging provided in quick lead-times.

Where and how do you see future growth for your products?

We expect to see an increase in the markets-within-markets phenomenon, continuing the current trends of premiumisation and segmentation that we have already seen in the drinks sector, led by spirits. As such, we will be continuing to explore the new luxury markets across these new segments are created and brands look at ways to stand out from the competition and be truly relevant to their customers.

What, if any, new products do you have up your sleeve? Planned launch dates?

By working with brands and identifying the latest trends, we are always developing our product portfolio. Our new TA+ cold foil is an excellent example of this as it resulted from feedback from our customers who wanted a foil that worked across packs for both fine detail and large coverage on the pacckaging. This approach, together with our continued programme of investment, means that our next new products to empower our customers’ brands and packaging are not too far away!

30 October 2017