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What is bag-in-box packaging?

In the international food and beverage industry, excellence extends far beyond the standards expected in the specialty coffee sector. This high benchmark of quality and product freshness ascends to virtually every corner of the hospitality industry.

A benefit of this standardised expectation is the ability to ‘share’ different techniques. These can span from quality control processes to packaging and shipping methods. A notable example is the widely recognised boxed wine, known in the broader hospitality sector as bag-in-a-box packaging (BIB).

Commonly seen on supermarket shelves, bag-in-box packaging is an efficient and durable way to ship and sell beverages such as wine and cold brew coffee. Notably, the benefits of this form of packaging are practically endless, from extended shelf life to overall cost-efficiency and even a reduced environmental impact. 

I spoke to Joe Bailey, the creative director at Afficionado Coffee Roasters, to learn why bag-in-a-box has been a popular packaging choice for many beverage merchants and how it’s used in the cold brew coffee sector.

What is bag-in-box packaging?

Bag-in-box refers to an aseptic bag compiled of a highly durable multilayer polymer, which nestles within a protective cardboard box. The bag is filled with cold coffee or wine through a precision-soldered neck, after which the system is immediately closed with a one-way valve.

After filling, the bag spouts are shielded with a cap, dispensing tap, or connector and fitting known as a BiB connector. To prevent losing its freshness and becoming borderline undrinkable, the bag and valve protect the liquid contents from oxygen, harmful microorganisms, and sunlight—all the elements that coffee must be shielded from.

The cardboard box protects the inner bag from damage and simplifies the overall transportation process. Essentially, the cardboard exterior makes the packaging a more convenient and safer way to transport liquids. 

The internal bag is constructed from layers of film that are designed to protect the product’s quality from initial filling right through to consumption. As cardboard is known for its durability, it’s clear these two are a match made in heaven for those in the fine beverage industry.

Bag-in-a-box history: Its rise to fame

The bag-in-box style packaging was first introduced in 1955 by William R. Scholle. Its original purpose was to transport battery acid to automotive repair shops and gas stations safely. That said, it quickly found its way to a magnitude of industries far and wide.

Bag-in-box made its long-term home in the food and beverage industry because of its microbial and cost-efficient benefits. This was after the aseptic filling process was perfected in 1956. Today, bag-in-box packaging is used around the world. 

Joe, who has worked at Afficionado Coffee Roasters for over 4 years, has seen many benefits arise when the brand’s New York City-based coffee shop opted to use bag-in-a-box packaging. “Bag-in-box coffee has really blown up in recent years for its efficiency in shipping products and its large consumer appeal,” he says. 

“There’s something tactile and aesthetic about a well-designed corrugated box that people find more appealing and environmentally friendly than the plastic cartons of the past.”

In Australia, for instance, boxed wine has a country-wide nickname: the ‘goon’, which is derived from the word ‘flagon’. Notably, ‘goons’ are seen as a cultural icon to the nation. Household sales peaked in the 1970s, a time when wine was perceived as unreachable by the common man and only affordable for special occasions. 

The arrival of bag-in-a-box may have helped change that accessibility for the common Australian and eventually made up approximately 50% of wine sales in the country.

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Benefits of bag-in-box for cold brew coffee

It’s evident that bag-in-a-box packaging has become a much-loved transportation and storage method throughout a multitude of industries. But what are the benefits when it comes to the cold brew coffee industry? 

Freshness and quality preservation: With minimal exposure to outside elements such as oxygen and sunlight, the airtight and opaque nature of bag-in-a-box packaging helps protect the coffee inside from oxidation. This helps to protect its flavour, aroma, and overall freshness.

Extended shelf life: Bag-in-box packaging can help extend the overall shelf life of cold brew coffee in comparison to other traditional methods. This extended shelf life can dramatically reduce waste and allow brands to reach for a much wider distribution. 

“Bag-in-box packaging has come to replace nitro fitments and other kegerator systems in recent years because it bypasses many of the constraints that these larger systems need,” Joe explains. “If done correctly and with care, the bag creates a vacuum seal that prevents oxygen and bacteria from entering the cold brew. An additional advantage over plastic containers is the prevention of light exposure to the coffee.”

Convenience and portability: Bag-in-box packaging is incredibly easy to handle and often comes attached to a tap or dispenser, making it simple for customers to access coffee without the mess. In office environments, busy cafes, or even social gatherings, this accessibility can be advantageous.

Eco-Friendly packaging: Cardboard is recyclable, and the internal bags can often be separated for more efficient recycling. As more consumers develop an eco-friendly ethos, opting to use bag-in-a-box packaging can offer a positive brand image. 

Bulk packaging for businesses: This method of storing is most effective for busy cafes, restaurants, or even office environments. It allows businesses to purchase and store larger quantities of cold brew coffee for longer periods because of a much slower oxidation rate.

Customisation and branding: Bag-in-a-box packaging provides ample space for branding and customisation. Cold brew coffee brands can use this space to tell a story, showcase a commitment to quality, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market. 

Eye-catching and informative packaging can attract consumers and build brand loyalty. Customisation and eco-friendliness have become top of mind for most consumers. When consumers encounter a product, the product packaging plays a crucial role in shaping their initial moments, influencing their perceptions and judgments.

As a business, it is crucial to prioritise packaging design that not only grabs attention but also effectively communicates the brand’s values and the essence of the product, while also ensuring an eco-friendly ethos.

At Cold Brew Pak, we offer fully customisable bag-in-box cold brew packaging solutions. With our ergonomic on-tap dispensing system, our innovative bag-in-box packaging will dispense almost every drop of your product to ensure customer satisfaction. The interior bag has a highly resilient film structure, while the corrugated kraft paper box provides unparalleled drop protection, and ease-of-use.

For more information, reach out to our team

Interested in the subject? Check the article below.

bag-in-box, bag-in-box packaging, cold brew packaging, cold brew coffee packaging, cold brew box, cold brew bag-in-box, cold brew coffee bag-in-box, cold brew coffee boxes, cold brew boxes, what is bag-in-box

What is bag-in-box packaging?

Bag-in-box refers to an aseptic bag compiled of a highly durable multilayer polymer, which nestles within a protective cardboard box.

About the author

Holly Szakal is a Melbourne-based copy and content writer and is deeply immersed in her city's vibrant specialty coffee culture. She infuses the rich aromas of the specialty coffee scene by delivering compelling narratives on the industry's current events.