Leading branded soft drinks business, Britvic is joining forces with University of Cambridge-backed tech company Xampla in a GBP 1 million packaging innovation partnership.
After 15 years of Cambridge research, Xampla has developed the world’s first plant protein material for commercial use. This revolutionary material uses pea protein to make microscopic capsules that protect vitamins within liquid, stopping them from being broken down by sunlight.
Xampla’s work has seen the company secure GBP 1 million in funding from the UK Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to scale up the technology and material processing.
The innovation is critical to delivering drinks fortified with vitamins in clear plastic bottles. Clear plastic bottles are considered a positive by consumers, with Britvic’s research showing that people are 40 % more likely to recycle clear bottles over coloured ones. However, the downside of clear bottles is that they let more UV rays in, losing the necessary protection for vitamin D.
Simon Hombersley, CEO of Xampla, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Britvic to deliver innovation that will revolutionise the drinks industry and it is extremely exciting to see what our material can do at scale. Xampla works with businesses to help solve their biggest problems while also enabling customers to meet their sustainability goals.
“Britvic has a proud history of fortifying its products with vitamins and seeking sustainability in its packaging. Our partnership is about helping to do both even more effectively. We can’t wait to get started.”
Last year, major Britvic brands Fruit Shoot and 7UP made the shift to clear bottles to drive up recycling rates and Britvic has started to add vitamins B, C and D to Robinsons Fruit & Barley.
Meanwhile, leading Irish squash brand MiWadi 0 % Sugar contains vitamins B, D and zinc and children’s favourite Fruit Shoot has been fortified with multivitamins since 2016. Added vitamins C and D help support the immune system and the growth of strong bones, while B vitamins contribute to energy release.
Sarah Webster, Director of Sustainable Business at Britvic, said: “Our work with Xampla supports our Healthier People, Healthier Planet strategy.
“By agreeing this GBP 1 million partnership with each other, we have shown the power of collaboration between established players and cutting-edge innovators to deliver Healthier People and Healthier Planet.
“Xampla technology has the makings of a ‘win-win’, enabling delivery of greater nutritional value in the drinks people love, while ensuring that more products can come to market in clear, recyclable bottles.”
Britvic has a long history of fortifying drinks with vitamins. The FTSE 250 company started life in 1845 as The British Vitamin Product Company, with a mission to provide customers with an affordable source of nutrition. The company is committed to a programme to reduce unnecessary plastic and is working with Xampla through an Innovate UK-backed grant to develop new formats for delivery of soft drinks and nutrients within drinks.
News of the Britvic partnership follows a successful Xampla world first product launch with meal kit manufacturer Gousto last year, where Xampla created an edible film to be used as wrapping for stock cubes. The trial kits – for making an Indian Spiced Carrot & Lentil soup recipe – sold out within one hour of going on sale.
Xampla is a spin-out from the University of Cambridge. Its Supramolecular Engineered Protein has been developed over the past 15 years. It has created the world’s first plant protein material for commercial use. Its material performs like synthetic polymers, but decomposes naturally and fully without harming the environment. Xampla is the first UK University spin-out to be awarded B Corp status.