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Leon Kaye headshot

For Corona, Barley Is For More Than Beer

By Leon Kaye

The popular beer brand Corona says it is testing out new six-back holders containing barley straw mixed with 100 percent recycled wood fibers.

From a brand perspective, 2020 was a trying year for Corona (for obvious reasons), but the ever-popular beer proved to not only survive but thrive during the pandemic. Not only are sales up overall, but the company continues to launch new drinks and it is also trying out new, more sustainable packaging.

The brand’s latest development is a more circular form of fiber-based packaging for its six-packs of bottles. This new six-back holder contains barley straw mixed with 100 percent recycled wood fibers. As with many ales, barley is an important ingredient in the brews made by Corona; now some of that straw that farmers often discard after harvesting barley will be put to another use.

According to AB InBev, the parent company of the Corona brand, churning barley straw into cardboard fiber is a process the requires up to 90 percent less water than using virgin wood – and also requires far less energy and chemicals. And when it comes to land use, far less acreage is also needed.

The new packaging builds upon Corona’s previous ventures to eliminate wasteful and even harmful packaging, such as the six-pack rings for aluminum cans made from waste byproducts including that of barley.

But Corona serves up far more beer out of its iconic glass bottles then cans, so these new six-pack holders could have a larger impact in the long run. AB InBev said in a public statement that it would consider rolling out the barley-based packaging across more of its brands.

It could be a while before you see this packaging in North America – especially as Constellation Brands owns the rights to Corona here in the U.S. For now, AB InBev is piloting the new packaging in Colombia, and will then introduce it in Argentina later this year. For anyone asking why it could take so long, keep in mind that AB InBev said this new packaging option was three years in the making.

Image credit: Corona/Business Wire

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye