When Walmart starts pushing its weight around to influence packaging trends, you know massive retooling isn’t far behind. But while a mandate from the world’s largest retailer is fairly compelling, it’s just part of an ongoing drive toward sustainable packaging solutions backed by another irresistible force: consumers.
Year-end reports of pending “eco-fatigue” among consumers have been greatly exaggerated, particularly when it comes to packaging, which indisputably remains one of the most powerful means of building a bond between a brand and its enthusiasts.
In a marketplace booming with new product introductions, the right package can make or break an item. But in the bigger picture of the green evolution, packaging has taken on greater meaning. It’s a pivotal hot spot, with much of the discussion revolving around materials and design, and their impact on the environment. Heightened demand from brand owners and retailers is focusing considerable attention on ecologically friendly packaging, which in the not-toodistant future is expected to become the rule vs. the Exception.
But given the tall order mandated by the converging needs of capturing the consumer’s eye, providing protection in transit, maximising shelf life, increasing efficiencies, and, of course, promoting the brand, identifying the perfect package is no easy feat..
To be sure, the onus to reduce packaging and maintain brand integrity has never been higher, especially for the fresh food marketers who have toiled mightily in recent years to deliver peak freshness, pristine quality, portability, and convenience via products that rely heavily on durable, functional, premium portion-oriented products. Sustainable packaging alternatives continue to be a major focus for both retailers and food processors, affirms Erik O’Neil, VP of sales for Lewis Center, Ohiobased Solut!, a leading thermoformed-paper packaging Manufacturer.
“Performance and cost are also of equal importance,” says O’Neil. “The optimal package solution for the retailer and processor is a more sustainable package with improved functionality at a better cost.”
In the current economy, O’Neil acknowledges that most companies “are not willing to sacrifice cost for sustainability. Ultimately, cost is not just about the cost savings of a single piece of packaging vs. another.” Rather, he contends, “It is about improving the total system cost for any given product that will land on a retail shelf.” It’s a delicate balancing act that “involves a wide range of design and materials development,” notes O’Neil, which might mean “eliminating a process step for the food manufacturer, removing unnecessary additional packaging components, reducing package weight and master case sizes, and improving pallet cube and shelf space utilisation.”
To that end, according to O’Neil, it all boils down to “creativity, flexibility, design, and customisation,” all of which Solut! approaches as absolute necessities rather than as feelgood stopgaps that can be selected from a catalog. “We are committed to learning the details of each individual application to make the clients’ hope a reality.”
To illustrate his point, O’Neil offers a recent project Solut! embarked upon with a Chicago-based food processor to configure a dual-ovenable (microwave and conventional) 12-inch round corrugated platter for a new line of heat-and-eat appetizer Trays.
Launched in October in both regional and national supermarket
chains, the new Solut! tray nails the bull’s eye, says O’Neil, “with renewable, corrugated paperboard material that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35 percent, relative to plastic.”
What’s more, he adds, the dual-ovenable baking tray’s functionality was totally unique in the grab-and-go deli case as a compelling alternative to aluminum Foil.
A Toronto-based client that manufactures an established branded frozen dessert for a major club store nationwide also recently enlisted Solut! to design a tray that could offer 100 percent metal detection at the processor and provide the consumer with in-home microwave or conventional oven preparation, explains O’Neil. The successful end result, he notes, reduced “total system cost by providing an all-in-one sustainable package that could be metal-detected, frozen, distributed, and ultimately baked by the consumer.” In the near term, Solut! will remain focused on “being flexible and offering creative package solutions design for retailers and processors. Sustainable, paper-based packaging is what we do [best], and that will not change,” says O’Neil. But that’s not to say the packaging innovator will rest easy on its recent victories. “We will be expanding our technology and design focus into new packaging applications, such as pre-packed and fresh-cut meat and poultry, by developing a sustainable alternative to the traditional foam meat tray.”
O’Neil envisions “literally endless opportunities to deliver on the three core packaging considerations of our clients: sustainability, performance, and cost. We are bullish on the packaging opportunities in the retail and processor markets.” Cryovac EZPak’s the deal in the deli The newest package from Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand, an easy-to-open modifiedatmosphere package, is perfect for any sized portion of sliced deli Meats.
Offering interconnected benefits for processors, retailers, and consumers, the Cryovac EZPak deli package includes an enhanced visual appeal made possible by trap-printing capabilities and a tight, thin, clear lid stock. In addition to maximum visual appeal, Jim Belcher, marketing director of case-ready products for the Duncan, S.C.-based packaging pioneer, says Cryovac’s EZPak “guarantees longer-lasting quality for applications like sliced deli meats, smoked and processed meats, and fresh poultry. But even more importantly, processors will be able to add the Cryovac EZPak package to their offerings without a significant capital expenditure.”
Because the Cryovac EZPak package can run on existing equipment, Belcher says processors currently using MAP tray/lid equipment won’t need to make any additional equipment investment. “The package seals out contamination, and its hermetic seal eliminates any potential for leaks,” he explains, noting that consumers will appreciate how they can easily open the package by simply pulling the film away from the tray.
For more information contact (800) 845-3456 or visit www.cryovacezpak. Com.
PWP makes on-the-go dipping doable
As food companies vie for share of “mobile stomachs,” a new weapon in the cup-holder cuisine arsenal from Vernon, Calif.-based PWP Industries promises to widen dippablefood Options.
A great choice for on-the-go grazers who want dippable foods without the mess, PWP’s Dip-N-Go cup looks like a standard straight-walled container with a lid. But in a novel twist – literally – the handy lid compartment can be filled with a variety of dips and sauces to transform the standard cup into a dipping vessel when opened and snapped into the cup rim.
“The Dip-N-Go package was created in direct response to the continued demand for more convenient packaging for takeout and on-thego applications,” says Terry Vovan, PWP’s VP of product innovation. Ideal for single-serve products, the packaging enables consumers to “enjoy dippable foods just about anywhere they can take them,” notes Vovan.
Having earned a Bronze Consumer Packaging Award from the Society of Plastic Engineers, among other industry accolades, Dip-NGo’s features include:
• Tamper-resistance with a proprietary assurance tab
• Leak resistance/airtightness for freshness and increased shelf life
• Juice traps for certain fruits and Vegetables
• Perfect size for car cup holders
• A greener choice made from PETE, the world’s most recycled plastic made from FDA-compliant recycled water bottles. Dip-N-Go’s tamper-resistant tab also eliminates the need for extra banding or wraps Dip-N-Go is available as a 10-fluid- ounce hinged tamper-resistant cup with a juice trap and dip cup lid, or with a juice trap and flat lid, in case packs of 300, with 40 cases per Pallet.
For more information contact (877) 700-0330 or visit www.pwpindustries. Com.
Anchor expands Incredi- Bowls
After the successful introduction of its 16-ounce and smaller-sized Incredi- Bowls, St. Louis
-based Anchor Packaging’s latest arrival squarely targets the market for nine-inch round Containers.
Seeking to provide a cost-savings choice with the compatible benefits of heat resistance, venting, and antifog technology, Anchor’s three new large Incredi-Bowls offer an eightfamily lineup to choose from, ranging from five-ounce to 48-ounce capacity.
Able to withstand heat up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit sans off-odors or -flavors, Incredi-Bowls are an ideal choice for staging foods under heat lamps, in warming units/tunnels, or for quick microwave reheating. Perfect for single and multiservings of pastas, stir fries, soups, and a variety of hot and cold prepared dishes, Incredi-Bowl lids’ anti-fogging technology also increases visual merchandising appeal and order accuracy.
A secure-snap closure further ensures a leak-resistant seal with classic styling that includes rigid design features and a positive locking bowl and lid, making the bowls suitable for stacking up to three high on countertops and in transit. Competitively priced with other plastic bowls that have far fewer performance capabilities, Anchor’s entire Incredi-Bowl line is made of No. 5 polypropylene, which is not only microwave- and dishwasher-safe, but also repeatedly reusable before being easily recycled.
For more information visit www. Anchorpac.com.
Just Bare Chicken Takes it all Off
As Americans increasingly become more mindful about what they are – and aren’t – eating, a new brand of premium, all-natural chicken, Just Bare, is aiming to strip away shoppers’ concerns with a new packaging design that showcases product viewability, handling and recyclability.
Trademarked and distributed by St. Cloud, Minn.-based Gold’n Plump Poultry, the hormone- and antibiotic-free Just Bare brand is making its way to retailers nationwide, including SuperTarget, Hy- Vee, and other regional grocery chains. Vegetablefed and raised cage-free by independent upper Midwest family farmers, Just Bare purely natural chicken also offers a transparent and traceable package for both the self-service meat case and full-service meat counter.
“This brand is about giving consumers open access to everything they want to know about Just Bare – to provide transparency from the supermarket and the package back to the family farm,” says Julie Berling, director of brand strategy and advocacy for the new chicken brand. The self-service offering features five reasonably priced products, including three popular boneless and skinless chicken items and two bonein favorites. The transparent, recyclable plastic tray and its clear-film lid give consumers a nearly 360-degree view of the chicken inside, says Berling, replacing the traditional foam tray and plastic over-wrap. What’s more, the film lid is leakproof and peels away with ease.
“This eliminates the need to touch the raw chicken while opening or to use a utensil to open – a major plus for many consumers,” notes Tracy Miller, who directed the development of the brand’s product offering and packaging.
The added assurance of a manufacturer’s freshness date code further addresses several key purchase factors that rated highly among a majority of shoppers. Surrounding the plastic tray is a recyclable paperboard sleeve featuring a photograph of a simple chicken dish. The whole chicken bears a similar look but is packaged in a heat-sealed, transparent bag (not recyclable due to the barrier properties of the package, which are needed for food safety purposes). Another revolutionary package trait: The trayed products are fixedweight and feature a scannable bar code, thus offering consistent weight and price with every package, vs. the customary random-weighted and priced-per-pound poultry package.
They’re benefits that further simplify product selection for consumers and make instant price changes and new promotional offers easier to implement for grocers, which can also accelerate efficiencies by eliminating the paper store label, alongside reduced labor costs otherwise required to weigh and price each package. Even better, the Just Bare brand features a Family Farm Code located next to the manufacturer’s freshness date on each package, which gives consumers an opportunity to enter a three-digit code online to learn the location of the specific farm where the chicken was raised, as well as additional information about the brand’s advanced husbandry practices.
For more information visit www. Justbarechicken.com.
River Ranch Goes with New Packaging Flow
With the goal of boosting the sales momentum of its Romaine Garden blend and sharpening the shelf appeal of its entire line of Garden Fresh! salads, River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC has bowed a new design for its packaging, based on the considerations of overpopulated supermarket shelves and the increasingly limited attention spans of overstretched shoppers. Using the valuable consumer input and insight gained during the redesign of its successful Popeye Fresh! brand, River Ranch created a brighter, crisper look and feel that quickly convey product and brand information, and open up a considerably larger viewing area for prominent display of the package contents.
“Romaine Garden’s winning blend of romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, and red cabbage has become the new staple for packaged-salad consumers,” says Leslie Tripp, director of marketing for the Salinas, Calif.-based grower/shipper. “The vibrant, cleaner packaging design is helping to catch shoppers’ attention and showcase the freshness, color, and texture of all our packaged vegetables and salads.”
For more information visit www.RiverRanch- FreshFoods.com.
Coldpack Airliner Offers Sustainable Insulated Design
In response to growing environmental concerns over landfill waste, San Diego
-based Coldpack has unveiled a patented thermal, inflatable, insulating liner that easily converts a corrugated box into a cooler: Air- Liner. The new solution enables time-sensitive perishables shippers to maintain a temperature-controlled environment, improve presentation, and extend the quality of their brands, all while reducing supply chain costs and the shippers’ eco-footprint. Eyeing the potential to eliminate 19 billion cubic feet of landfill waste per year, Coldpack’s new AirLiner uses only 50 percent of the raw materials, water, and energy necessary for production, vs. that needed for a thermally equivalent foam container.
Additionally, unlike bulky foam alternatives that annoy end users and wreak havoc on the environment, the product disposes compactly after use, minimising landfill waste.
“Business owners, especially those shipping perishables, do not take for granted the effect of foam packing on their corporate image and their revenue streams – yet, until AirLiner, a cost-effective ‘green’ alternative to foam has been elusive,” says Coldpack CEO Etienne P. Snollaerts
, the onetime president and CEO of the Commerce, Calif.-based Smart & Final warehouse club chain. “We believe that our products will make a difference in the world by addressing environmental challenges and reducing the carbon footprint of our customers.”
Snollaerts says the key to Air- Liner’s ability to “cushion, protect, and maintain constant temperature” is its patented internal heat-barrier technology produced by layers of reflective barrier film that are sealed into a proprietary design, which thus blocks heat transfer and keeps products protected longer.
The unique thermal design, he notes, is perfect for shipping products that can’t get too hot or cold, such as seafood and meat, fresh-cut flowers, and other speciality products that must maintain specific temperature Ranges.
In addition to superior insulation, AirLiner also offers excellent cushioning and protection. And since it ships and stores flat, the product costs less to use; occupies 96 percent less warehouse space than required by foam boxes; reduces freight charges, as well as shipping and handling costs; and helps lower customer service claims for damaged product, due to its advanced insulating and cushioning Properties.
For more information visit www. coldpacksystem.com.