Canadian Packaging

Craft brewer makes clear case for product transparency with packaging refresh

Canadian Packaging   

General Bottles Cans Canadian Packaging packaging Steam Whistle Steam Whistle Pilsner

Beer is beer, some may say, but with Canadian brewers allowed to use over 100 different ingredients to make their studs, how can consumers really be sure about what they are in fact consuming over a cold one, or not?

For Toronto-based craft brewing stalwart Steam Whistle Brewing, such ambiguity has no place in a market increasingly driven by consumers’ demands for greater product transparency, and its latest packaging update is a telling testament to the privately-owned company’s nothing-to-hide mindset.

Launched in early July, the new packaging look for the company’s flagship Steam Whistle Pilsner features what’s claimed to be the first nutritional and ingredients label for a beer product—applied to the secondary packaging—along with a streamlined and more prominent display of the iconic steam whistle graphic as the centerpiece of the company’s logo.

“Canadian brewers are not required to list their ingredients on their label, but we are proud of what goes in our beer and, almost more importantly, what doesn’t go into our beer,” says Steam Whistle’s director of marketing Tim McLaughlin. “The government may permit brewers to use up to 109 ingredients in the making of beer, including foam enhancers, corn syrup, filler, additives and artificial flavors,” McLaughlin points out. “It makes you wonder, ‘If no one else is listing their ingredients, then what is in your beer?”


Now incorporating platinum as a complementing brand color to enhance the brand’s traditional bright-green backdrop, the label also features a newly added Canada’s Premium Pilsner tagline to reflect the use of top-quality ingredients, according to McLaughlin.

“We have also introduced platinum-colored caps to our beer bottles and platinum rims to our branded glassware,” he notes, “but the most notable changes have been made to our cans and beer cases, which is where consumers will find our all-new, voluntary ingredients disclose and nutritional information.”

While the company used in-house creative talent to update the 355-ml and 473-ml can graphics, it also collaborated with the Toronto-based studio Blacksmith Design Co. Ltd. to extend the message and additional product information onto the company’s secondary packaging—namely the pre-printed stretch film used for canned six-packs, and the signature briefcase-style corrugated cases with built-in carrying handles.

Produced and printed for Steam Whistle by the brewer’s long-time packaging partner Packaging Technologies Inc. (PTI) in Concord, Ont., the cases now feature a standard Nutrition Facts box—mandatory for the vast majority of food products sold in Canada—and an accompanying product disclosure proclaiming the absence of any GMOs (generically-modified organisms), artificial preservatives, corn syrup or foam enhancers from the products.

While incorporating a more playful graphic display of the white steam clouds and brand lettering, the eye-catching briefcase—assembled without using any adhesives—also features a special velvety ‘soft touch’ finish to play up the brand’s premium status.

“The cleaner appearance connects directly with our beer—all-natural, nothing added, nothing watered down, and nothing to hide,” McLaughlin states.

“It makes for a more pure pint of pilsner, and you will see the difference in the taste.”

Says McLaughlin: “Our ultimate hope is that the federal government will eventually mandate ingredient labeling on all beer packaging.

“There is no valid logical reason why such a big part of the food-and-beverage industry should be exempt from rules that apply to everyone else,”’ he reasons.

“Doing so would definitely benefit a company like ours and other smaller beer producers who only use all-natural ingredients to make their product the right way, without any short cuts.”


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