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How recyclable RTD cold brew pouches reduce costs

Cold brew has taken the specialty coffee industry by storm, and the momentum is thriving. Market researchers expect a growth rate of 22.5% in the next eight years, bringing the industry’s value to $3751.76 million by 2032. 

Cold brew’s smooth, mellow flavour and convenient packaging have made it the go-to beverage for busy consumers. For businesses looking to reduce costs in their efforts to meet these needs, the answer might just be ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew pouches. Made from flexible packaging materials, cold brew pouches come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit almost every need. 

That said, with the array of sustainable cold brew packaging options available, it can be challenging to find one that suits your business. To learn more, I spoke to Alex French, the co-founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based Bizzy Cold Brew

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How can recyclable RTD cold brew pouches save you money?

In less than a decade, Alex and his partner Andrew have made Bizzy Cold Brew the top-selling cold brew brand on Amazon. Most of the brand’s orders and subscriptions are for brew-it-yourself coffee, but it also offers ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew beverages, which form a large part of its business. 

From the start, Alex understood that making coffee ‘fly off the shelves’ was key to the brand’s success. To do that, the brand needed cost-effective packaging. In addition, Alex knew the packaging needed to be convenient, sustainable, practical, and suited to the product. Overall, Alex believes the type of packaging you invest in should offer a win-win for both consumers and your businesses. 

During the brand’s packaging journey, Alex found RTD cold brew pouches to be the most cost-effective option. 

“The margins we were able to get out of those were pretty good, and they sell so well,” he says. In addition to RTD cold brew pouches, Bizzy Cold Brew uses recyclable plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). 

“They hit the right price for the consumer, and generate high sales volumes to make the economics work,” Alex explains. Beyond that, PET is recyclable, stronger, safer, and lighter than standard plastic packaging, glass, or aluminium cans. As a result, Bizzy Cold Brew enjoys the added benefit of lower transport costs.

Does your brand need recyclable RTD cold brew pouches?

First impressions matter. Consumers take less than 7 seconds to make a purchasing decision based on packaging design alone. It could be as simple as a shape that reflects the personality of your brand or an easy-grip handle for added convenience. 

That said, a lack of versatility and high costs limit customisation options on packaging formats such as bottles, cans, and glass. “You can customise bottles into any shape you want, but this [can be] quite expensive,” Alex explains. 

RTD pouches, on the other hand, don’t share these limitations. In addition to being flexible, they’re fully customisable, allowing for distinct shapes and sizes at affordable prices. 

Broadly speaking, Alex believes flexible, recyclable cold brew pouches are one of the best packaging options available. “I love stand-up pouches because they are flexible, durable, and are suitable for not just coffee, but also products such as flour and tea.” 

The booming subscription market also demands such space-saving packaging solutions. The compact size and collapsible nature of cold brew pouches translate into lower shipping costs and increased profit margins for liquid beverage subscriptions. 

Borrowing from his experience, Alex reveals that this is often a difficult decision for many coffee businesses. “The liquid business is really hard, but there are different packaging formats you can probably go with to achieve success.”

In America, reports show that the average volume per person for RTD cold brew is expected to reach 4.6 litres by the end of 2024. It’s an ambitious trend where subscriptions stand a higher chance of success when done with the right packaging. 

Alex says that the brand’s highest sales volume has come from refrigerated large formats, essentially its 48-ounce bottles. The brand’s success with subscriptions, however, mostly comes from brew-it-yourself cold brew pouches. “We have a lot of subscriptions on Amazon, followed by our website, and most of them are for our pouches.”

Both RTD and brew-it-yourself pouches offer multiple benefits beyond subscriptions. Cold brew pouches are available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs and those of buyers, from single-serve sachets for on-the-go refreshment to grab-and-go sizes and larger multi-serve options. 

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Which cold brew packaging is best for you?

Alex believes that a brand can work magic with any cold brew packaging – if they do the research. “Any packaging can work for your brand, but [each suits] different strategies and different channels of sale,” he explains. 

He suggests that brands keep other factors in mind, such as customer needs and expectations, budget, business model, and the risks involved in running a cold brew business. Notably, entering the cold brew coffee industry can be an expensive business venture. 

Bag-in-box for cold brew

In addition to recyclable bottles and cold brew pouches, bag-in-box packaging is another format that Alex admires. 

“It’s high quality because it doesn’t allow oxygen and light to get into the product,” he says. “Plus, you can put a lot of volume in it.” That said, Alex is quick to add that this format has its unique challenges.

“In America, you need to have large volumes of it in order to make the cost of packaging make sense, which simply means you need to sell a lot of coffee,” he explains. “It’s a bit of a balance where you have to figure out volume versus cost.” 

Cold brew coffee cartons

While these may be sturdy, sustainable, space-saving, and fully customisable, Alex cautions that they’re not ideal for beginners. 

“They have a packaging process that’s very expensive,” he says, adding that “for someone looking to start, that’s not where you begin unless you have millions [to invest].”  

Interestingly, Bizzy Coffee Cold Brew notes that bottles tend to attract better sales in-store, while pouches do better online. “We’ve sold both successfully in these contexts,” Alex reveals. This reinforces his advice that with the right strategy and sales channel, you will have success with whichever packaging you choose for your business. 

For brew-it-yourself cold brew, pouches, also known as brew bags, remain popular for various reasons. Alex says he chose them because they were compostable, albeit commercially, and can be shipped in a standard coffee bag. “From a sustainability and cost standpoint, we found that to be the most cost-effective,” he adds. 

At Cold Brew Pak, we have what it takes to unleash your brand’s potential. Our fully customisable, space-saving, recyclable cold brew pouches redefine convenience and are available in multiple sizes and formats to suit your business needs. 

For more information on the cold brew pouches and bag-in-box packaging we offer, contact our team.

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About the author

Born and raised in Kenya, a country famous for growing top grade coffee, Sam’s unique perspective is deeply rooted in his heritage. His writing journey has seen him contribute to magazines and coffee blogs, and work for global marketing agencies, honing his craft and establishing a strong voice in the industry. He now focuses on uncovering the unique stories and innovations fuelling the specialty coffee revolution.