Jarritos labeled craft soda bottles in a straight line.

Labeling Solutions For Your Craft Soda Brand: Everything To Know

Once a niche product, craft sodas are exploding in popularity. Buyers are seeking them out because they’re tired of regular sodas and are looking for an alternative to alcoholic beverages. 

Today, these soft drinks can be found at food trucks, soda boutiques, grocery stores and convenience stores. So, as a craft soda maker, how can your craft soda labels help your product stand out in this exploding market? 

Are Craft Soft Drinks The New Craft Beer? 

The rise of craft beer can be credited as much to large producers as it can to enthusiasts looking to create their own brews. After decades of cost-cutting and conglomeration, consumers were left with a few poor-quality choices. Craft beer offered better-tasting alternatives, spurring massive growth over the past three decades. 

Today, we’re seeing the same pattern play out with craft sodas. Consumers are moving away from the bland, high fructose corn syrup-sweetened, plastic-bottled drinks sold by major producers like Coca-Cola. Craft soft drinks, by comparison, offer alternatives that are packaged in eco-friendly glass bottles and aluminum cans, use natural sweeteners, like cane sugar, and offer interesting flavors.

As might be expected, this segment is seeing its biggest growth in the young adult market, because these consumers want healthier alternatives to alcoholic beverages. In particular, young people with families want fun drinks that they can enjoy with their children. 

Industry experts estimate growth could be anywhere from 2-10% of the market in the next few years. For purposes of comparison, it has taken over 40 years for craft beer to control just under 14% of the beer market! 

Even if the market takeover is slow to start, the market potential is huge. The average American drinks over 50 gallons of soda every year, or three times as much as other top drinks, including coffee and bottled water. 

What Are Consumers Looking For? 

According to RC Cola International, there are 5 major trends driving the craft beverage market: 

  • “Authentic” beverages that offer a unique experience (This includes everything from unusual flavors to recreations of classic sodas, such as cream sodas and root beer)
  • Functional beverages that provide nutritional benefits, but don’t have the high caffeine levels of energy drinks
  • Eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bottles, including glass bottles and aluminum cans
  • “Ethical” drinks, which can include environmental responsibility or better working conditions
  • Soda alternatives, including flavored waters and seltzer, that aren’t loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners 

Simply making sodas that follow these trends isn’t enough, though. The look of the bottle or can itself is almost as (if not more) important that the recipe for the soda itself. Your soda labels need to be personalized and emphasize these traits to appeal to customers. 

What Do I Need On My Soda Labels To Meet FDA Requirements? 

The FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) combines legally required information along with suggested information that helps the consumer. 

Craft Soda Label Size & Position

The principal display panel of a soda bottle or soda can must cover 40% of a round container. This panel includes the brand name and a generic product name, along with the net quantity of soda in the container. 

When designing your can/bottle label, keep in mind that the bottom section may be covered when placed in a cooler. The net quantity must be at the bottom of the label, but you can place information that attracts consumers closer to the top for visibility. 

Nutrition Facts

The Nutrition Facts panel must include the serving size, calories, total fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugar, added sugar and protein. If claims like “Very Low Sodium” are used, this panel must also include “Not a significant source of” followed by a list of nutrients that are only present in trace amounts. 

The standard serving size for sodas is currently 12 ounces. However, manufacturers have the option of listing the nutrition for the full container alongside this serving size. This makes choices less confusing for consumers who are likely to drink a 16 or 20-ounce container in a single sitting. 

Ingredients

Ingredients must be listed in order by weight, while chemical preservatives must be listed with an explanation of their use. This includes statements like “preservative” and “to help protect flavor.” 

Functional beverages also called “nutriceuticals,” fall under the labeling regulation of dietary supplements. For the most part, the only real difference is the use of the term “Supplement Facts” in place of “Nutrition Facts.” 

Some people have a genetic disorder that prevents them from processing the amino acid known as phenylalanine. If they consume too much, they can suffer brain damage. Aspartame metabolizes into phenylalanine, so sodas that use this artificial sweetener must include the statement “PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE.” 

Company Name & Address

The packaging design must also list the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. 

How Do I Choose A Bottle Label Format That Attracts Customers? 

Presentation is important for any consumer product, but especially for specialty soft drinks. A clever label design can help your beverages stand out among thousands of bottles at specialty retailers, stand apart from standard brands in convenience stores, and encourage buyers to take photos for social media posts. 

For example, several notable craft soda manufacturers employ a retro-style theming to their packaging design, typically to highlight a nostalgic feeling to their brand.

While the focus of your design should emphasize the traits consumers are looking for, the shape, size and format of the label itself also need to be considered. 

Pressure-sensitive labels dominate the market because they’re inexpensive, durable, and easy to source. While most of these sodas are sold in glass bottles, pressure-sensitive labels make it possible to use aluminum cans. 

Unlabeled cans, called “brights,” can be bought by the pallet, while pre-printed cans must be purchased by the truckload. This makes aluminum brights an affordable choice for small runs. 

For companies using bottles, there is the choice between opaque or clear custom labels. Clear labels let customers see the soda inside, which is great for clear bottles that hold colorful, fruit-flavored sodas. If you’re using brown bottles, combining body and neck labels maximizes space you can use for graphics and text. 

How Do I Get Labels Onto My Packaging?  

Whether you sell locally or are a major player in the craft soda industry, CTM Labeling offers the machine needed to fir into your production. 

Are you just starting out, and want a labeling machine that can handle anything? Our 360a Series wrap system label applicator is designed to be a low-cost, small-footprint solution for facilities that need to label round containers. This machine can store up to 48 label configurations and can be used to label a variety of products. 

Looking for maximum speed and flexibility? Our vertical trunnion roller labeling system can apply up to 5 labels per unit. Its conveyor system is designed to safely move bottles without sacrificing speed, while high-speed vertical rollers turn the bottle during label application. This all but eliminates sag and skew and results in a maximum output of 45 PPM. 

Does your company market your soft drinks as non-alcoholic substitutes for wine and champagne? Our wine bottle labeler is perfect for large bottles. This machine has a conveyor with stainless steel sidearms that safely carries bottles to the applicator. Depending on the configuration, it can apply single labels, cover labels or front and back labels. 

We Can Help You Find a Solution for Your Soda Labeling Needs 

Are you looking for a better option when labeling craft soda containers? Work with a company that focuses on efficient automatic labeling systems that produce high-quality product labels

Our experts can set up labeling equipment that delivers the quality and consistency you need for your cans and bottles.