Modern Table Meals eliminates plastic bags in a move to recyclable paperboard packaging using uniquely gabled cartons that boast a new-look graphics design.
Modern Table Meals, Walnut Creek, CA, reformulated its line of protein-packed pastas and meal kits in conjunction with a packaging change from flat-bottom plastic bags to “peaked” gable-top, stand-up paperboard cartons. The company feels that the cartons stand out on shelf in the pasta aisle and are also convenient for storage.
"The gabled top allows us to be differentiated on the shelf from our competitors," says Jennifer Eiseman, senior brand manager. "A consumer affectionately called it the “farm-to-table box and that nickname has stuck internally!" Eiseman shares the strategy and tactics behind the repackaging and redesign that was announced last month.
What was the reasoning behind the original bagged packaging?
Eiseman: The bag was created to give consumers a high level of transparency to the product with see-through windows, sides and bottom. But we learned that the tradeoff was a significantly lowered shelf life and environmentally unfriendly plastic packaging.
Why change to boxed?
Eiseman: While consumers told us the design was aesthetically appealing, the format was not functional at all. The bag did not show well at the shelf and was not efficient from a space standpoint at retail. We also found consumers were unclear on what the product was and what benefits we offered. We also wanted to move to a more environmentally friendly substrate with 100% recycled paperboard. All our carton packaging contains recyclable materials and are 100% recyclable.
What is gained with the box vs. the bag?
Eiseman: There are several advantages to the box. Our packaging is now more sustainable, which is feedback we heard from our customers. From a business perspective, the cartons are more cost effective than the bags, and we’re able to pass along some of those savings to the customer. For example, we are able to lower our price point on the meal kits from $6.99 to $4.99.
What’s lost with the box vs. the bag?
Eiseman: In general, there is not much we lose from going into boxes. Bags are the packaging form that our consumers know us in, so there may be some confusion when they see Modern Table in boxes, but we’re hoping that won’t be the case. We tried to keep our branding consistent, so our new packaging is still familiar to our current consumers. There is much more in upside between improved shelf presence and lowered environmental impact.
What were the major design goals?
Eiseman: Our primary goal was to keep the spirit of our original design, which we knew appealed to millennials in particular, but redesign our packaging to work better on shelf. We also wanted a form of packaging that was familiar to consumers, but differentiated from our competitors, which is why the gable-top cartons work well for us. We continued to work with Hatch, our design agency who has been our packaging partner since the very beginning. Our top priorities were taste appeal, functional benefit call outs and flavor "shoppability."
What’s inside the box?
Eiseman: All our products come with protein-packed lentil pasta—up to 20g a serving! Our reformulated pasta is a blend of lentils, rice, and pea protein. The blend allows us to offer complete protein in each meal. Depending on the flavor, the box will also come with sauce and vegetables.
An angled view better shows the gable-top design that distinguishes Modern Table Meals from its boxed competition.
What’s the difference between pastas and meal kits?
Eiseman: With the meal kits, everything you need for dinner is in the box: lentil pasta, sauce, and veggies. The pasta is great for consumers who are more adventurous in the kitchen or have a go-to sauce they’d like to pair our pastas with.
Is that an actual view window on the boxes?
Eiseman: All our pasta packaging will have a window, so consumers can see that our lentil-based pastas look like regular pasta, but nutritionally they’re much better.
What kind of savings does this represent?
Eiseman: The bag to boxes change allows us to pass on the cost savings to our consumers. Our pasta is going from 10oz to 8oz in boxes and dropping in SRP from $5.99 to $3.49. Our meal kits are going from 11-12oz to 9.5-10oz. As noted, the meals are also dropping in price from $6.99 to $4.99.
Were any packaging production changes made?
Eiseman: New packaging equipment was required and purchased to implement the conversion from bag to box.
Anything else to point out that’s important or not apparent?
Eiseman: We’re really excited to be launching into the mac and cheese category! It’s one of those comfort foods enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. We saw an opportunity to offer a better-for-you mac and cheese that offers the taste consumers love while packing in nutritional benefits. Consumers can have their mac and cheese, and eat it too! We’re launching 2 classic mac flavors and a Jalapeno Cheddar flavor, which has a spicier, edgier profile that we’re super excited about! Each sku offers 18g of protein per serving is Gluten Free and non-GMO.
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