Rubies in the Rubble ketchup

Source: Rubies in the Rubble

Any change – be it to product or packaging – had to have sustainability at its core

This month, after 18 months of exploration, I am excited to be launching Rubies’ ketchup in a recycled and 100% recyclable squeezy bottle format.

With 97% of the retail ketchup in a squeezy bottle and our mission to take 5% of the UK ketchup market in the next three years, we knew we needed to get into the right format to compete.

This was not a step we took lightly. We always need to be accountable, so any change – be it to product or packaging – still had to have sustainability at its core.

This project started very broadly – looking into every type of packaging, from metal toothpaste tubes to cartons, and pouches, trying to find something that gave consumers a sustainable but user-friendly experience of serving ketchup that our current glass bottle couldn’t offer.

After a lot of trial and error, it turns out there’s a reason the squeezy bottle is so popular. But sustainability and plastic are not two words often strung together in the same sentence. However, ensuring we could source post-consumer recycled plastic (rPET) that was also recyclable meant we could use waste plastic and save more surplus fruit & veg – furthering our mission to make food waste history.

Choosing the bottle was just the start of the journey. Then came the challenge of finding a new manufacturer, understanding the impact on shelf life, and tweaking our formulation from hot to cold fill.

The main obstacle was the filling temperature – with a regular plastic bottle you can comfortably hot fill at food-safe temperatures, whereas with rPET the maximum filling temperature is between 55°C and 60°C. But we were determined to use rPET – the most widely recycled plastic, and the only one currently available with 100% post-consumer recycled content. With persistence, we perfected our cold fill recipe, learning a huge amount along the way. Earlier this month, we produced our first ketchup run for Morrisons and Ocado, and it’s soon to land in Waitrose.

I am extremely proud of the team for the perseverance they showed to get this bottle to market as intended, with no shortcuts. By making the most of our resources today, we can shape a better tomorrow.