Manufacturers entering the edibles market are increasingly turning to beverage formats for delivering cannabis.
According to BDSA, beverages represent 5 percent of the total U.S. dispensary market, and they continue to gain ground. The category saw 20 percent growth between 2019 and 2020, Kelly Nielsen, vice president, insights and analytics, BDSA, told Cannabis Products earlier this year.
As this segment grows, cannabis-infused beverage manufacturers will need filling equipment that will meet their needs for efficiency, speed and safety. Krones, Inc., the North American subsidiary for Krones AG, also cited flexibility and cost as important factors to consider.
Cannabis Products recently spoke to Barry Fenske, technical sales-filling technology, and Susan Paprcka, head of marketing and corporate communications, Krones, Inc., Franklin, WI, about what manufacturers should look for in beverage canning equipment, among other considerations.
CP: When did Krones begin working with customers in the cannabis-infused beverage space? Typically, are these customers new to the cannabis industry or are they established manufacturers?
BF: Discussions with customers began a few years back. It started to heat up in 2018 when Canada was beginning to legalize it. I’ve seen both old and new customers inquire.
CP: What should manufacturers look for in a bottling or canning system?
BF: Machines that are flexible on the filling process to help with a wide mix of products; a vendor that is established with a proven track record and plenty of after-sale support; machine efficiencies in the upper 90s; and operating costs that are reasonable.
CP: How does the type of filling equipment play into this? Are there certain types that perform better with certain beverage applications?
BF: There are two types of filling: one type is controlled mechanically and the other is controlled electro-pneumatically. The latter gives easier flexibility when it comes to modifying the filling process. This allows you to best set up the filling parameters for each SKU. The mechanical version forces you to grab a wrench if you want to make a change.
CP: How do equipment size and speed play into this?
BF: Speed is up to the customer. The faster the speed, along with the container size, along with foaming characteristics is what determines the size of the filler.
CP: Are there any particular models of equipment Krones’ cannabis-infused beverage manufacturers gravitate toward?
BF: Our Craftmate can filler and Kosme can and bottling fillers, have been sold in Canada.
SP: Also, our Autocol can labeler has had great interest. Due to rapidly changing regulations, a lot of customers choose not to buy printed cans but to label cans with Pressure Sensitive labels.
CP: Are there any extra equipment considerations manufacturers should take because of the cannabis oils incorporated into beverage formulations?
BF: There are some discussions in the cleaning processes. Local regulations need to be considered and discussed by both parties to ensure there are no issues with non-compliance.
CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
SP: According to our Canadian sales team, cannabis beverages are still very much a craft beverage at this point due to poor distribution channels for this sector.