Probably the best drinks carrier in the world!
“So what’s the best product you’ve created and what’s so special about it?” a friend asked me recently? “PortaDrink® I replied without hesitation!
Probably the best beer (and drinks carrier) in the world!
PortaDrink® is a multi-drink carrier which was launched in 2005 and has become the favourite drinks carrier of leading brands including Costa, Carlsberg and Diageo. It is used by bars and cafés around the world where carrying two or more drinks in one hand is required. Particularly relevant for busy festivals and stadia bars where speed-of-service is vital to keep the thirsty queuing crowd happy!
Millions have been delivered so far to 100’s of brands and several countries and the product is about to have a resurgence in demand due to the recent difficulties in sourcing cheap, bulky and grey egg-box style trays from countries like China. Now owned by Tristar Packaging, since its acquisition of PortaBrands in 2010, PortaDrink® is back in the limelight.
Costa’s favourite drinks carrier.
It’s a truly simple, patented design which is easy to use. The vendor just stacks the trays flat on the bar and they (or the consumer) pop the drinks into the cut-out holes then grab the two handles and go. Simple and fast! In fact, so fast we decided to put them to the test at Twickenham Stadium and we discovered they could serve 25% more beer. Importantly, it is also easy and cost effective to manufacture because there is no gluing – it’s just a printed, die-cut, asymmetric and reversible design which can be branded both sides.
It’s currently made from FSC® certified natural kraft carton board sourced from managed forests with high wet and tear strength so it’s strong enough to hold four pints of beer and be carried some distance – typically from bar to festival stage being waved about clambering back through the busy crowd – not spilling a drop of course! The carriers are digitally and lithographically printed in the UK by Transcend Packaging on demand from stock board which has made it possible to respond quickly and deliver to time-sensitive events with generic and bespoke branded carriers.
Branded (both sides).
Simplicity and efficiency should be the hallmarks of any good product design and perform their intended function effortlessly. Having said that, it’s not perfect. No product is. It’s really not designed for drive-through or pre-pour, stack and serve, which for some quick serve restaurants and stadia bars this is required, but for most take-out drinks it works really well!
Being brandable is important too because this enables the cost of each carrier to be offset by advertising and other communication (like current and future event details, promotions, QR links etc). At one large stadium these carriers are sponsored by the local brewery and for every carrier delivered, the stadium generates 2p profit. Where 200,000 pints are served each match this equates to £500 revenue or donation from the sponsor. Add that to 25% increased beer sales and you start realise why drinks carriers are relevant and not wasteful as some might have you believe.
Naturally, they’re 100% recyclable and repulpable and we’re working on making the board from approximately 75%+ recycled fibre. Trials are on-going, using our new Cygnus®REELboard which is made in the UK from a new 3-ply laminate available from Swanline Paper & Board.
In 2007, we delivered 365,000 PortaDrink® 4-pint carriers to the Glastonbury Festival. The carriers were funded and branded by Carlsberg with a shoutout to Wateraid, Oxfam and Greenpeace. It is great to see collaborative projects like this where it can be used to communicate engaging content.
Best design and campaign.
The best design for me so far has been Marston’s Smooth bitter – ‘What a Great Delivery’ campaign. It was a clear, simple message, well executed and delivered to numerous cricket ground bars across the UK.
Ian Bates, Co-founder & CEO REELbrands