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Factors shaping cold brew packaging trends in 2024 

Created by Japanese sailors centuries ago, cold brew has firmly established itself in the modern coffee world and shows no sign of slowing down. Notably, a recent report shows the global cold-brew coffee market will reach an estimated value of $994 billion by just 2025.

Is it the aesthetic of cold brew packaging, or the smooth and mellow taste of the coffee itself? Perhaps it’s because ready-to-drink (RTD) options have skyrocketed in popularity amongst those who prefer cold brew. 

Regardless, it’s imperative for brands to stay on top of evolving cold brew packaging trends. Research shows that packaging design can have a significant influence on consumer buying decisions. Beyond this, brands must ensure packaging aligns with customer preferences, which increasingly include sustainable materials and product safety. 

To learn more about the current factors shaping cold brew packaging, I spoke to Alan Gilbody, the founder and director of London-based Slice Design.

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Who is driving growth in the cold brew coffee market?

Millennials and Generation Z account for a sizable amount of global coffee consumption. Additionally, it’s this market that’s leading the charge of cold brew consumption. Therefore, understanding the preferences of this demographic is crucial, starting with recognising that coffee is no longer seen as a quick caffeine fix before the 9-to-5 grind.

Millennials have shown they’re willing to spend more on their takeaway coffee. In a recent survey, 62% admitted to spending up to $7 a day on good quality coffee because it ‘makes them happy’. To the younger generation, it’s a way of life, an experience, and a small ‘luxury’. 

It’s important to note that some of the older generations have tried, and enjoyed, cold brew coffee. However, a significant number tend to prefer traditional coffee rituals. 

Cold brew brands are in a favourable position, as the younger market has shown they’re ready and willing to adapt to innovative practices. This includes unique flavour profiles and innovations in cold brew coffee packaging.

What type of cold brew packaging caters to demand?

The demand for cold brew has peaked, with US coffee chain, Starbucks spending $50 million a year on labour alone, just to make the RTD beverage. Furthermore, the demand for sustainability appears to escalate in tandem with the cold brew trend each year. A 2023 survey indicated a 71% increase in online searches for sustainable goods over the past five years.

Added to this, 63% of consumers are still inclined to pay extra for brands that show exemplary sustainability practices and use environmentally friendly packaging. In recent years, coffee brands have been willing to adapt by investing in sustainable packaging alternatives to minimise the environmental impact of their products. 

These strategies include:

  • Glass bottles: Cost-effective, endlessly recyclable, and easy to clean and dispose of correctly, glass bottles are a common form of cold brew packaging. However, it’s important to note that glass bottles are notoriously susceptible to breakage. Proper in-store storage practices are essential to prevent accidents and minimise product loss.
  • Flexible spout pouches: With their playful, unique, and attractive design, sustainable flexible pouches are particularly appealing to younger consumers who appreciate innovation. They, too, provide convenience for on-the-go consumption and have proven to maintain the unique flavour profiles cold brew offers.
  • Aluminium cans: Not only are they infinitely recyclable, but aluminium cans provide ample space for branding. Moreover, they offer ‘on-the-go’ convenience (a huge hit with the younger generation) and easy stacking capabilities for storage.
  • Cartons: Affordable and recyclable, these cartons carry a lower risk of breakage compared to glass bottles. However, they may lack the luxurious feel associated with other packaging alternatives.

Notably, a brand’s choice in typography, artwork, and colour scheme are crucial elements in communicating its identity and product attributes. 

Coffee businesses must ensure to choose packaging that allows enough space to display important information, as Millennials and Gen Z have shown they truly appreciate and value brands they trust. The information displayed may include key details such as the coffee’s origin, tasting notes, and expiration date. It can also include brand story-building factors, such as the brand or farmer’s origin story.

By keeping these factors in mind, brands automatically enhance the appeal of their cold brew products. This helps set it from competitors while catering to mass demand.

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GDP967 Cold brew coffee on cooperative food market stall

What cold brew coffee packaging trends to expect in 2024

Many of the above considerations are likely to carry over into the following years. A Macfarlane Unboxing survey conducted in 2023 saw 55% of consumers express a desire for businesses to maintain sustainable packaging as a priority heading into 2024.

Slice Design works alongside coffee businesses to understand their target market and cater to their design needs. Owner Alan explains his thoughts on what to look out for in 2024:

“There is a huge drive towards sustainability and customisation,” he says. “This is particularly evident for younger consumers who want to feel that the product is made especially for them and with their needs in mind.”

“Younger consumers, particularly Generation Z, are demanding sustainable, biodegradable, and compostable options for packaging formats,” Alan adds. “While that may be a trade-off with shelf life, this move best resonates with their values. The brands that will do well are those that best represent the values of the younger generation.”

Conversely, 42% of respondents in the same Macfarlane Unboxing survey believe sustainability should not incur additional costs. Therefore, when it comes to cold-brew coffee packaging, brands must strike a delicate equilibrium between sustainability and financial considerations, particularly amid prevailing inflation and economic volatility.

At Cold Brew Pak, we understand the importance of offering attractive, convenient, safe cold brew coffee packaging. We’re dedicated to transforming your business for the better. Guided by sustainability and safety, we’re empowered by pioneering technology to deliver high-quality, fully customisable cold brew coffee packaging solutions for your brand.  

Our cold brew packaging solutions include bag-in-box options, flexible spouted pouches, fully recyclable cans, and BPA-free bottles. Plus, we offer a range of customisation techniques to ensure your cold brew packaging perfectly represents your brand. 

Reach out to create your bespoke cold brew packaging today. 

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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.