A waterless beverage seems an oxymoron, but Smart Cups has made that incongruous concept a reality for optimized sustainable packaging. Billed as “the world’s first printed beverage,” the brand employs 20 and operates out of a 23,000 square foot facility in Mission Viejo, CA, and was the subject of a January 2020 interview with Packaging Digest.
Chris Kanik, chief excitement officer, aka founder and CEO, enthusiastically responded to a request for a 2021 progress report, which yielded answers referencing expectations he had a year ago as well as new plans.
As companies worldwide were blindsided by the pandemic then, Smart Cups also adjusted course over the ensuing months. However, the company has successfully weathered the storm and is positioned for dramatic growth driven by continued developments in technology and finding additional market opportunities.
What’s the state of Smart Cups these past months?
Kanik: When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we switched some of our production capabilities to produce hand sanitizer, helping fill a critical need for frontline workers. This also helped keep our employees working during a government-induced economic shutdown. We were able to produce and distribute more than 70,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County municipalities, local hospitals, first responders, veterinarians, and homeless shelters.
From a business perspective, I am very thankful to say that our sales have increased over the past year and we’ve increased consumer awareness through various announcements and partnerships.
You intended to add capacity and automation to increase your output this year, did that happen?
Kanik: The COVID-19 pandemic affected our supply chain and caused some delays from key parts’ manufacturers. That said, we have had successful tests of our increased production equipment and are expecting to have it all installed and implemented within the next few months.
This new method of printing will replace our current method and increase our capabilities from thousands to millions of cups.
Did you expand ingredient printing to the cup sidewall in addition to the cup bottom as planned?
Kanik: It will once our new system is implemented. With the ability to print on the cup sides and bottoms, we will have more surface area and can print more complex formulas, enhance flavor profiles, increase shelf life, and improve dissolve times.
As well, we will be able to print various types of materials and different cup sizes. We are all very excited about the future iteration of our manufacturing technology.
Did you change or add different cup substrates or sizes?
Kanik: In November 2020, we introduced our family-friendly and caffeine-free beverage option,…