Dressing up condiment packaging with simplicity and style

By Rick Lingle in Food Packaging on March 05, 2014

A pourable line extension for an established line of salad dressings motivates T. Marzetti Co. to introduce packaging that simply meets consumers’ needs.

The admonition to Keep It Simple applies to many things, including food products such as salad dressings.

Launched in October 2010, Marzetti Simply Dressed Refrigerated Salad Dressings line from the T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, OH, are made with simple, easy-to-understand and familiar ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil (source of Omega-3 ALA) and sea salt. They are also free of preservatives, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, added MSG, artificial flavors or colors, and boast 22 flavors in both regular and light varieties.

In March 2013, the company launched a complimentary line of pourable versions in six varieties: Lemon Vinaigrette, Light Red Wine Italian Vinaigrette, Light Balsamic Vinaigrette, Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Light Roasted Tomato Dressing and Light Veggie Ranch Dressing. 

Suggested retail pricing, which may vary by store and product size, is $3.79 to $4.49. The products are packaged at the company’s salad dressings factory in Horse Cave, KY.

Mary Beth Cowardin, the company’s director of marketing–produce, says “The new, sleek pourable plastic bottle features a flip-top dispensing cap, making it easy to pour and enjoy. The new dressings are not only perfect for boosting the flavor of traditional salads but they also make great ingredients for pasta or potato salads and can be used as a marinade.”

When asked about the sustainability of the packaging, Cowardin responds that “we’re mindful in selecting materials that are easily recyclable for consumers.” The Simply Dressed Pourable products, and especially their packaging, are the focus of our interview with Cowardin.

What were the packaging requirements?
Cowardin: From a marketing standpoint, much importance was placed on appealing to today’s consumers. We understand that many consumers desire great-tasting products with ingredients they can understand and that are convenient for them. The Simply Dressed Pourable dressings truly deliver on what today’s consumers need and want. We wanted the packaging to reflect the unique qualities of the product—a simple, fresh, wholesome visual appeal. The pourable design allowed us to make an impact at retail and stand out among competitors.

Please describe the packaging and identify the vendors.
Cowardin: We worked with Plastipak to help us create a custom-designed bottle. The bottle is made of recyclable PET material and features a shrink-sleeve label and a standard closure. We have a great, long-standing relationship with Plastipak. They’ve been great partners of Marzetti and we were excited to work with them again on this particular launch.

Plastipak was a logical partner for this project given their extensive preform tooling capabilities for the two-stage molding process used in the manufacture of the Simply Dressed PET container.

The closure is supplied by Aptar and is a stock 28-400 flip top ultra-pour spout style with Lift 'n' Peel liner from the Selig Group. The PET shrink-sleeve label is printed by Hammer Packaging using a seven-color print process.

Who managed the packaging development?
Cowardin: The creation of the Simply Dressed Pourable packaging was truly a team effort across several different functions including marketing, R&D, purchasing, packaging/manufacturing and engineering. We also partnered with The Chesapeake Group of Cincinnati on the graphic design of the label and Plastipak on the bottle design and structure.

As part of the design, we used special high-definition photography for the photo of the single ingredient on the front of the product and for the neckbands. This allowed us to achieve the vibrancy of color and the crisp detail in the printing, which illustrates the wholesome, realistic look of the product.

What were the design goals?
Cowardin: One of our major goals for the graphics design was to really make an impact at retail and catch the eye, as well as attention, of consumers. The fresh, wholesome, clean and transparency of the design really showcases why this product line is so unique and offers great dressing alternatives to consumers.

What packaging challenges were encountered?
Cowardin: With any new packaging design, challenges can be anticipated. However, we have a great team of talented experts and problem solvers that made this launch not only possible but successful.
One of the challenges we encountered was shrinking the film to meet quality standards. This can be a common challenge with product design. Teamwork was essential to us determining a solution and ultimately solving this challenge. 

Adjustments are often essential to the shrinking of the film. Adjustments were made to the shrink tunnel equipment to allow for this taller bottle. Marzetti purchased a longer shrink steam tunnel from PDC Intl. to assure wrinkle-free shrink of the labels.

How did the company coordinate the material and machinery portions of the project?
Cowardin: The collaboration between PDC and Hammer was vital to our success in launching this project. Hammer worked closely with our design team to run multiple print trials that would then, in turn, be tested at PDC for material performance.  Each supplier remained open to trialing different options for Marzetti to have the design they preferred and successful package performance at the time of launch. 

As a result, from a manufacturing standpoint, there were no downsides to the new design.

What lessons were learned?
Cowardin: One of the vital lessons learned was the effectiveness of teamwork, especially given that we worked across several functions and worked together to produce an excellent product.
Additionally, proper planning and time management were keys to product development success as well.

What has been the most satisfying aspect of this introduction?
Cowardin: Making great-tasting, quality products that are on-trend is a major commitment and priority for Marzetti. As a leader in the refrigerated salad dressings category, our new Simply Dressed Pourable launch is another example of our efforts to continue offering consumers unique and high-quality products that meet and surpass their needs. Satisfying our consumers was the most rewarding aspect of this launch.

Aptar Group

The Chesapeake Group (Cincinnati)

Hammer Packaging, 585-424-3880

PDC Intl. Corp., 203-853-1516

Plastipak Packaging Inc., 734-455-3600

Selig Group, 630-922-3158

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