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Coming to a supermarket near you...

So many new supermarket products--so many new packaging innovations--so little time. In fact, the aisles at the Food Marketing Institute show at Chicago's McCormick Place in May were filled with new product launches that also showcased intriguing packaging, some of which is described here.

Aseptically packed coconut water?

It's true, and the folks at Vita Coco, which markets the new coconut water (1) that captures a taste of Brazil, hope you go nuts for it. Two under-30-year-old entrepreneurs, Mike Kirban and business partner Ira Liran, are hoping their new product will be the next big brand in the beverage category that began with humble roots, like SoBe and AriZona Iced Tea.

Vita Coco is actually coconut water, pure and simple--the liquid inside of a coconut versus the milk derived from the meat of the coconut. But the company says the water is packed with nutritional benefits and a mildly sweet, natural coconut taste. Containing 43.5 calories based on an 8-oz serving, the water is manufactured in Brazil with green coconuts from the region and shipped to the U.S. Available in Mango, Passion Fruit and something called Acai (a berry from an Amazonian palm tree) flavors, the rehydrant drink, being billed as a natural energy beverage, comes in a 250-mL shelf-stable Prisma pack from Tetra Pak (www.tetrapackusa.com) that protects the water from light and heat for six months. Served chilled, Vita Coco can be mixed with juices and alcohol for cocktails, the entrepreneurs say. The single-serve, octagonally shaped aseptic drink box has a peelable top seal and spout opening.

Why the Prisma aseptic? Kirban says the Tetra Prisma is the only package that can effectively contain the coconut water and keep it hygienic, safely preserving its natural components, aroma and flavor. "It's the only way we could package 100-percent-natural coconut water without it oxidizing in a very short time period, such as a week," Kirban tells PD. "Coconut water has been canned and bottled with all sorts of preservatives and sugar and mixes, but this product is the first 100-percent-natural coconut water we know of that's available without preservatives, as-is."

Vita Coco is currently being distributed along the East Coast in the single 250-mL drink pack and in six-packs, unitized in paperboard carriers from MeadWestvaco (www.meadwestvaco.com).

The ergonomically shaped drink box is made of a seven-layer rollstock supplied by Tetra Pak in Brazil, incorporating a polyethylene/paper/foil laminate, printed by offset with tropical graphics depicting a green coconut spiked with straws, palm trees and a beach scene.

Kirban says the ready-to-drink alternative to sports drinks and fortified water products is packaged by an exclusive partner called Agra Coco on Tetra Pak's Tetra Therme Aseptic Flex form/fill/seal systems. Circle No. 236.

Speedo plunges into the sports water market

The Speedow brand evokes images of swimsuits, but you're not all wet if you think water, too. Especially now, as the Speedo brand of low-carb Sportswater (2), an enhanced water beverage said on the label to include vitamins and electrolytes, made a splash at FMI this year. Available in an ocean-blue-tinted, single-serve, 18-oz polyethylene terephthalate bottle, Speedo Sportswater comes in Orange Passionfruit, Lemon, Apple Starfruit and Fruit Punch. Soon to follow will be an unflavored Speedo Sportswater enhanced with electrolytes. Bottled by Performance Waters, LLC, under sublicense from Authentic Fitness Products, LLC, the enhanced water beverage was designed for everyone who enjoys an active lifestyle—from Olympic athletes to healthclub regulars to weekend warriors. The four flavors of Speedo Sportswater went into the market in late spring.

Fuze Beverages is partnering with Speedo Intl. Ltd. on the new beverage project and created Performance Waters, LLC as a division to market Speedo Sportswater. Bob Miller, a SoBe veteran, has been named COO of the new company. By aligning itself with Speedo, Fuze says it hopes to capture the imaginations of the active consumers in an Olympic year, when Speedo sportswear will be extremely visible.

Fuze says the bullet-style bottle is hot-filled and is injection/stretch-blown by Graham Packaging (www.grahampackaging.com), which embosses the bottle with the Speedo name and Speedo arrow logo. Ribbed sidewalls provide strength during the fill. The bottle's wide mouth is capped with a silver-toned, 43-mm plastic twist-off closure from Silgan Plastics (www.silganplastics.com). A full-wraparound, moisture-resistant biaxially oriented polypropylene film label from AET (www.aetfilms.com) is offset-printed in five colors by Renaissance Mark (www.ren-mark.com) with sporty and nautical graphic elements, a bubble design and a list of the six vitamins incorporated in the beverage in a border effect at the bottom of the label.

Flavored bottled water, like other bottled waters, is showing double-digit growth, as consumers favor it as a healthy beverage option, according to Fuze, which adds that figures from Euromoniter Intl. show flavored bottle water had a whopping 80.4-percent gain in U.S. sales between 1997 and 2002. "The partnership between Speedo and Fuze is a perfect match, as both companies are focused toward innovation," says Miller. "The cross-marketing opportunities are enormous." Circle No. 237.

Salute to sassy margaritas in a bag

Another new beverage pack spotted at FMI was in the Lt. Blender's Frozen Concoctions booth. A bottom-gusseted, stand-up bag (3) with a tamper-evident closure holds enough portable dry ingredients for Lt. Blender'sw Margarita in a Bag™ to make 16 servings or 1/2 gal. Simply add liquor and water to the film bag, freeze and squeeze for a Margarita, a Pina Colada, a Strawberry Daiquiri, and soon, a Mudslide, in no time. Measuring about 7 in. wide and 11 in. tall, the bag not only merchandises the dry mix, but can also be used to contain and dispense the finished cocktails. Front panels of the bag present the bereted lieutenant himself, wearing aviator sunglasses and holding a frozen cocktail, while back panels are printed with fill lines to add water and liquor, and include a clear viewing window that allows users to see the actual level of liquid they add to the bag.

The back panel also asks users to "think outside the blender," and tells the tale of U.S. paratrooper Lt. Blender, a story loosely based on an actual Viet Nam officer who was born on a Caribbean island and later held back the "forces of thirst." Though his trusty blend didn't make it through a fateful battle, his invention, the Margarita in a Bag, helped create such delicious frozen concoctions without a hassle, that the rest is history.

The product won FMI's first-ever Retailer Choice Awards in the Beverage category, recognizing the grocery industry's newest food, beverage and consumer products. The awards were presented in 12 different categories.

Launched in April 2003 by the Galveston Island, TX-based firm Yogurt Technologies, the brightly colored, capped bag is the Kap-Pake, produced by Kapak Corp. (www.kapak.com) of a polyester/biaxially oriented nylon/linear low-density polyethylene lamination that is gravure-printed in at least six colors. A canoe-shaped neck fitment attached to the bag accepts a threaded red or green plastic closure with a TE mechanical band from Menshen Packaging (www.menshen.com). The bag can be sold upright on store shelves or end-aisle displays or hung from a clipstrip.

Company president Ralph McMorris describes the inspiration for a flexible film pouch for the dry cocktail mixes: "Lieutenant Blender (his nickname) was the only officer on the island who had a blender. We wanted a pouch with his likeness on it that could first contain the dry mix product on shelves at retail and then be used to mix the final cocktail. It's more efficient, from a shipping standpoint, than rigid containers because it can be collapsed in-transit and isn't so bulky in the freezer after the liquor is added. It also expands when frozen so accommodates the volume you need. The screw cap is key because it allows the product to stay sealed and be frozen without bursting open."

The company, which sells cocktail mixes to restaurant chains and foodservice venues, decided to move into the retail market. It fills the dry mixes in its Galveston Island location on semi-automatic lines equipped with vertical auger filling equipment from All-Fill (www.all-fill.com) and AMS Filling Systems (www.amsfillers.com). The bags can be found in various outlets across the country for $6 to $9, depending on the outlet. Circle No. 238.

Miller brews up a fridge pack

Miller Brewing Corp., Milwaukee, displayed what it's calling the first Fridge Pack of cans in the beer category (4). "We improved these twelve-packs before we even introduced them," the company says. Available nationally since the end of April, the new 12-pack of cans, in a 632 configuration for Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft, are sturdy, easy to carry via curved "race-track" handles and easy to open, with a clear perforated edge. Supplied by Graphic Packaging (www.graphicpkg.com), the new packs are believed to be made of .024 Aquacoat wet-strength board, offset-printed in the Miller brands' signature color schemes with a design from McDill Design (www.mcdilldesign.com).

"This is the next milestone for Miller as a brewer and a marketer," says Bob Mikulay, Miller's executive vp of marketing. "The Fridge Pack is innovative packaging for innovative brands--we're very pleased with the results, and we think American beer drinkers will be, too."

Miller says design enhancements have been made to both the primary and secondary packaging for MGD, Miller Lite and MGD Light. The updates include an embossed Miller signature on the12-oz glass bottles. Each brand also features a unique die-cut label to best communicate the beer's character. Miller says the packaging changes emerged from a focus on enhancing the brands' already-strong shelf impact. Miller Lite's enhanced packaging continues to use its existing logo, which has been well received by beer drinkers since its 2003 launch. New graphics for MGD and MGD Light leverage the brand's black and gold design and maintain its full neck label. Circle No. 239.

Ready-serve bacon moves Tyson ahead of the pack

Tyson Foods has launched fully cooked, microwavable Hickory Bacon in a shelf-stable pouch (5), packaged under modified atmosphere. Just released as of presstime for distribution nationwide, the ready-to-serve product, in 2.2- or 6.6-oz package quantities, should be refrigerated after opening, but has an unopened shelf life of an amazing six months, confirms Tyson's Tom Cluck.

The package includes a bottom-gusseted outer pouch made by Nordenia (www.nordeniausa.com) of a glossy polyester/PE laminate that's beautifully gravure-printed in eight colors with a design created by Tyson's internal design group. The outer pouch is equipped with a resealable zipper closure from Zip-Pak (www.zippak.com) and holds an inner shingled, formed pouch made by Tyson of a high-barrier nylon/ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) rollstock from Curwood (www.curwood.com). Tyson's director of corporate packaging design and research, Steve Morris, describes the rollstock as being unique to the bacon arena.

Morris says the smaller 2.2-oz package size offers enough ready-to-serve bacon for packing in a lunch, eating as a snack or munching on the run.

Special processing and drying techniques extend the bacon's shelf life, Morris tells PD, along with a partial vacuum pulled on the inner pouch and a back flush of a gas/air mixture. The two pouches are formed in-house. Cluck says Tyson semi-automatically packages the bacon in several locations. "The product has really being doing well in the market," he says. "The convenience of the package is really appealing." Circle No. 240.

Rotisserie chickens are easy to handle

Hot ‘n Handy printed stand-up pouches from Robbie Manufacturing (www.robbiemfg.com) (6), which received the Retailer Choice Award for Packaging from FMI 2004, are the consumers' choice over domed containers for rotisserie chickens by a two-to-one margin. The significant advancement introduced by Hot ‘n Handy, according to consumer research, is the convenient, reusable zippered seal that stays closed to eliminate leakage and surprise spills. A survey conducted by Market Research Institute recorded consumer reactions to the Hot ‘n Handy and existing packaging concepts. The plastic dome was criticized for its leakage throughout the store and in shopper car seats and refrigerators. Hot 'n Handy was ranked as the best-perceived performer for leakage by a significant margin over the dome.

The attractive, resealable zippered pouches, with their sturdy, built-in carrying handles, are ideal for a wide range of both hot and cold deli products, and even for frozen items. Besides leakage protection, the Hot 'n Handy pouch introduces several important and exclusive benefits to the grocery deli, including:
• A portable handle that keeps hands clean and safe from burns.
• A hot foods option designed to withstand the rigors of heated display cases and the microwave.
• A built-in gusset that stores flat, using just 1/7 the space required by the plastic dome and that expands for standability in the display case, the refrigerator or the microwave.
• A large window frame and anti-fog technology for full, clear viewing of the product inside.
• Proprietary venting techniques to maximize crispness for fried foods and to lock in moisture and juices for meats, ribs and rotisserie chicken.

Hot 'n Handy pouches are available in a family of stock designs and sizes. They can also be made in custom sizes for use in the bakery, produce, meat and seafood departments. Just eight months after its introduction, the Hot 'n Handy pouch has gained popularity among consumers and grocers nationally. As of March 1, 2004, it was being used for a variety of food applications in more than 4,000 retail outlets. Circle No. 241.

Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef revolutionizes an American classic

Jack Link's, a Wisconsin-based company with a heritage of more than 100 years of meat-processing expertise, has revolutionized the dinner hour with an innovative new twist on an American staple. Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef, in a nonrefrigerated pouch (7), is equivalent to 1 lb of fresh, uncooked ground beef and comes in three flavorful varieties: Lightly Seasoned, Italian and Mexican. Made from lean cuts of 100-percent beef, Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef is precooked, predrained and ready to eat. Consumers will experience the same homemade flavor and tender texture as the ground beef they prepare in their own kitchen, but without the time investment and messy cleanup.

Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef is versatile enough to go from the kitchen cabinet to the table in 60 seconds and can be used in a wide variety of dishes, soups, appetizers and popular boxed dinners.

A recent survey found that half of all heads-of-household are too tired to put time or effort into evening meal preparation. Convenience-oriented foods rank among the fastest-growing segments of consumer-packaged goods. "We understand the importance of family and how a home-cooked meal can bring people together. More than half of all time-stressed cooks feel they spend more time preparing dinner than enjoying the meal with their families," says Jack Link, CEO of Link Snacks, Inc. "We know today's consumers will appreciate the convenience of our fully cooked ground beef, but truly believe they'll get hooked on the outstanding flavor."

Jack Link's starts with lean cuts of 100-percent beef, which is ground, fully cooked, seasoned and packaged. The package is retorted, and the shelf-stable pouches are aseptically sealed, following stringent safety standards. Extreme temperatures in the retorting process make Jack Link's ground beef safer to eat than ground beef prepared in most home kitchens, the company reports. Jack Link's ground beef is both U.S.D.A.-inspected and approved. It is 90-percent lean, a good source of protein, contains no artificial flavorings or preservatives and has a shelf life of 18 months, says Link. An expiration code date is clearly printed on the back of each package.

Each package is comparably priced with a suggested retail value of $3.49 to $3.99. Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef is available in Wal-Mart Supercenters across the country, and it will soon be available in retail markets nationwide. Circle No. 242.

Cake frosting goes pourable

General Mills says its new Betty Crockerw Pour & Frost is the first pourable cake frosting specifically designed for use in the microwave. Creating a new niche in the ready-to-spread frosting category in nearly a decade, Pour & Frost has been available since June in 15-oz opaque white polypropylene cans (8), topped with bright red plastic lids. Developed for "ultra convenience," according to General Mills, the product comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Milk Chocolate flavors. Users simply heat the container, pour the frosting onto a 1339-in. cake and spread the frosting on top. The product can even be used to decorate a warm cake, out of the oven just 15 minutes, without tearing or crumbling.

"It's the frosting that makes a cake look and taste delicious," says Mike Paul, marketing manager. "However, consumers will wait hours for a cake to cool before they frost it. Pour & Frost frostings allow consumers to spend less time in the kitchen."

Squeezing out fun

DecACake Super Squeezerz™ a stand-up plastic squeeze-pouch (9) of flavored decorating icing, is the first flavored icing on the market for kids. "We pioneered this market because fun foods for kids represent the single-biggest opportunity for growth in the slow-growth food-decorating category," says Steve Gordon, associate marketing manager of Tone Brothers, which markets the product. "This line offers kids and their parents great-tasting kid-chosen flavors in easy-to-use squeezable pouches. This marriage of great taste, fun and ease of use resonates with consumers." Awarded the Retailers Choice Award for Best New Product of the Year in the Snacks and Confectionary Division at the FMI show, Super Squeezerz offers the consumer many benefits, including great taste and play value. Consumers have started to see that Super Squeezerz is not just for cakes and cookies. "There is a great response from kids who use Super Squeezerz on ice cream, graham crackers, pancakes, waffles, Teddy Grahams, apple slices and pretzels, among other things," says Gordon. There are also optional decorating tips that twist on to allow for increased creativity.

Tone Brothers chose flexible packaging for Super Squeezerz for several reasons, says Gordon. It makes it easy for kids to squeeze out the icing onto their favorite treats. The film technology has progressed to the point that flavor can be added without the risk of it changing over time, and film printing can turn out impactful graphics, which is critical to capturing the attention of the consumer.

Tone came up with the idea toward the end of 2003 and set an aggressive launch date of March 2004. Product development was a joint effort between Decko Products (www.decko.com) and Tone's in-house food technologists. Kapak Corp. (www.kapak.com) prints the film on a gravure press and worked hand-in-hand with Tone and Decko Products to deliver the film in time for production. Super Squeezerz are manufactured at Tone's plant in Sandusky, OH. Distribution is currently at core accounts spread across the country. A national rollout is in progress. Circle No. 243.

No Drip! No Mess! No More!

Nestlé® Nesquik® is bringing fun and innovation to ice cream, milk and more with the introduction of its new No Drip! 22-oz inverted squeeze bottle (10) for syrup with a no-drip cap. Nestlé says Moms and kids agree: The unique-shaped bottle is easy to grip for all sizes of hands. Plus, due to the bottle's inverted design, families can enjoy squeezing it until the last drop, with less mess.

Nesquik syrup is available in two popular flavors—chocolate and strawberry. The redesigned bottle is fun and easy to use, so parents and kids will find themselves squeezing it on everything from ice cream, fruit bowls and milkshakes to morning pancakes. "We know the delicious taste of Nesquik syrup has been a family favorite for many generations," says Julie DesJardins, marketing manager for Nestlé Nesquik. "However, parents have told us that the problem with traditional syrup bottles is the sticky mess that accumulates on the bottle. That's why we are excited to offer this truly distinctive syrup bottle, which provides the ultimate ‘no mess' solution for parents everywhere."

The HDPE bottle is fitted with a vivid shrink-sleeve label that extends over the edges of the flip-top cap to provide tamper-evidence. A tearstrip down the side of the label at the cap and a perforation around the bottle just below the cap ensure easy removal of the label. An internal seal over the mouth of the bottle must be peeled off before product can be dispensed to provide leak protection. The new Nesquik syrup bottle, which sells for $1.79, will be available in both the ice cream aisle and alongside other Nesquik products in grocery stores nationally. Circle No. 244.

Space-saving, attention-catching tub for salsa

Naturally Fresh, Inc. introduced Naturally Fresh® II Medium Salsa in a 12-oz square tub (11) in late 2003. This unique packaging style was developed as a way to gain a competitive edge over other sauces and dips. While most dips come in a round tub, Naturally Fresh wanted something different to catch consumers' attention. Additionally, due to its size and shape, the square tub is more cube-efficient, so saves shelf space in stores.

The salsa is packaged in a square PET tub with a heat-sealed foil lid, which serves as the label of the product, and a clear plastic overcap. All of these components are supplied by WinPak (www.winpak.com). The product is packaged at Naturally Fresh's manufacturing facility in Atlanta on a horizontal filler from Modern Packaging, Inc. (www.modernpackaging.com).

Naturally Fresh II Medium Salsa is a perfect dip for nachos or sauce for any Southwestern dish, the company says. The salsa is currently in distribution in several stores in Alabama, and the company continues to strive to increase distribution of this product to markets throughout the U.S. Circle No. 245.

Low-carb crumb canister captures FMI's eye

Almost simultaneous with its release on the East Coast in early May, new 4C Carb Careful™ Crumbs from 4C Foods Corp., Brooklyn, NY (12), took home an award from FMI's first annual Retailer Choice Awards competition. The new low-carb breadcrumb line, available in Plain and Seasoned varieties, was presented with the top award in the Shelf Grocery Products category.

New Carb Careful Crumbs join 4C Foods' existing breadcrumb offerings, which include Plain, Seasoned and Salt-Free flavors, traditionally packaged in round, fiberboard canisters with tinplate steel ends from Sonoco Products (www.sonoco.com) and topped with LDPE lids from Huhtamaki (www.huhtamaki.com).

For the last 40 years, the creative team at J. Roy Parcels Assoc., Columbus, NJ, has been responsible for the package designs for 4C Foods' food-coating products. With the addition of the Carb Careful varieties, the team was challenged to convey the low-carb message while keeping the packaging consistent with that of products already on the market. "At 4C Foods, the crumb canisters already had a distinctive, powerful image built up over the years," says JRPA president J. Roy Parcels. "With the introduction of 4C Carb Careful Crumbs, that image is magnified by the unique symbology and multiplied by the number of facings on the store shelves. The total impact of the 4C Foods canisters not only sets the company's products apart, but also makes competitive products without low-carb benefits seem a little dated."

New package graphics, offset-printed in seven colors by Renaissance Mark (www.ren-mark.com), include the Carb Careful name in color-coded streamers directly beneath the 4C Foods' logotype. A JRPA-developed symbol informs consumers that the crumbs contain four grams of net carbs per serving, plus the copy "Use in low carb diet." For the Plain crumbs canister, a heart-on-heart symbol calls attention to the product's soy content, for those on diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

According to 4C Foods vp of operations Wayne Celauro, although the low-carb crumbs have been on store shelves less than two months, "the products are winning excellent acceptance from retailers." He adds, "Consumers have been enthusiastic in their acceptance of both product versions." Circle No. 246.

Refrigerated biscuits provide portion flexibility

Responding to U.S. Census data that indicates that smaller households are the largest and fastest-growing population in the U.S., General Mills, Minneapolis, has introduced Pillsbury® Perfect Portions™ refrigerated biscuits, packaged in two-biscuit portions (13). "More consumers are looking for products that fit their lifestyle needs—convenience, portion flexibility, simplicity and great taste," says Mark Delahanty, marketing manager for Pillsbury Perfect Portions at General Mills. "With Perfect Portions, you simply peel open the pouch, place the two biscuits on a pan and bake. Rather than make a whole can of biscuits, people can bake just two biscuits at a time and refrigerate the rest of the package to bake later."

Scheduled for launch in the southern U.S. in August at $2.99 per carton, the biscuits come in two varieties—Buttermilk and Butter Tastin'—in 21-oz bakery-style boxes that hold five twin packs of the dough. Each two-portion pack, made from a proprietary clear film with a peelable seal, is individually printed with baking directions, the product logotype and the biscuit variety. The outer carton, bright and appealing with images of the flaky biscuits topped with melting butter, along with the trademarked Pillsbury Dough Boy, have a die-cut window on the top to allow consumers to see the pouched products inside. Preparation instructions on the back of the carton indicate that the place-and-bake biscuits can be baked either in a traditional oven or in a toaster oven—a first for a refrigerated biscuit product, says General Mills.

According to Delahanty, the launch of Perfect Portions is projected to drive incremental volume in the $420-million refrigerated biscuits category. "There's no doubt that refrigerated biscuits in the can are still great products for larger households. Our research shows that consumers in smaller households are ready for a more convenient form of refrigerated biscuits that allow them to enjoy just-baked biscuits, too, without the waste." Circle No. 247.

Shapely crackers sizzle in stand-up pouch

Making its maiden voyage into the snack cracker category, Cape Cod Potato Chips, Hyannis, MA, has set sail with Cabot Vermont Cheddar to produce a line of premium cheese-flavored crackers decked out in first-class pouch packaging (14). While designed to appeal to all ages, new Shapes of the Cape™ baked crackers are particularly targeted, says Cape Cod Potato Chips' vp of sales and marketing Bill Germano, at the more discerning customer, who expects exceptional taste in a snack product. "The challenge to creating Shapes of the Cape was to develop an upscale, bite-sized snack cracker with strong flavor and precise bite, texture and crunch," he explains.

Shaped as classic seaside objects—a seagull, a shell, a sailboat and a lighthouse—the crackers come in portable, 7-oz pouches in three flavors: Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, and Sharp Cheddar 25-percent Reduced Fat.

Baiting "more discerning customers," the bite-sized snack crackers are packaged in a glossy, stand-up pouch with a reclosable zipper that was chosen for its ability to be formed, filled and sealed on existing equipment at Lance, Inc., Cape Cod Potato Chips' parent company.

The PE-containing film construction is reverse-flexo-printed by Printpack (www.printpack.com) in eight colors. Printpack supplies rollstock for filling on equipment from Roberts Packaging (www.robertspackaging.com). Reclosable zippers from Presto Products (www.fresh-lock.www) are applied in-line.

Launched nationally in March at a cost of $2.49 per bag, the cracker line "has been very well received," says Heidi Daly Ford, director of marketing at Cape Cod Potato Chips. "It has been tremendous," she adds. Scheduled for release later this year are 0.5- and 1.5-oz bag sizes. Circle No. 248.

Hershey's candies are convenient in Travel Cups

Hershey Foods, Hershey, PA, drives home convenience with new Travel Cups (15) that hold from 3.4 to 6.6 oz of some of its bite-size chocolate treats. Since December, four candy varieties—Reese's® Pieces, Hershey's® Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzel Bites™, Hershey's® Milk Duds® and Whoppers® malted milk balls—have been offered nationally in Wal-Mart, as well as in select food, drug and convenience stores, in squat, round containers that can be easily resealed.

Says Hershey Foods, "The products were created to address consumers' needs for convenient, reclosable, munchable candy snacks."

Differentiating themselves from the tall, column-like to-go containers and tubes offered by other snack makers, the Travel Cups measure only 2.5 in. high, and just more than 3.5 in. dia. The cups are made from HDPE by Berry Plastics (www.berryplastics.com), which also supplies the LDPE lids in yellow, silver and red for the Reese's Pieces, Pretzel Bites, and Milk Duds and Whoppers, respectively. A multilayer lamination lidstock covers the cup for extra protection. Decorating the container bodies are lively, gravure-printed polyvinyl chloride shrink labels that Hershey Foods says were designed to look "bright, fun and contemporary." Each variety has its own color scheme, but all include images of the candies, along with a Travel Cups logo in yellow, purple and red.

According to Hershey Foods, the item was taken from concept to production in only a few months. "This timeline required the packaging components to be right the first time," it says. "Although the container is a simple shape, the application of a shrink-body label was complicated by the lack of contours in the sidewall of the cup." The resulting container, filled at Hershey's manufacturing plant in Robinson, IL, is said to fit in many car cupholders and offers a wide base that prevents spilling. The Travel Cups, which Hershey says have received rave reviews from consumers, are available for approximately $1.50 each. Circle No. 249.

Cartridge-packed, dissolvable strips clean up dog breath

Taking a cue from the popularity of breath strips for the "human" market, Hartz Mountain Corp., Secaucus, NJ, has introduced a similar solution for canines (16) that may change the meaning of the epithet "dog breath." Relates Kimberly Cassar, director of marketing, animal health & nutrition, Hartz, "Our research showed that pet owners were looking for easy solutions to eliminate bad breath in dogs. The product would need to be effective, convenient and easy to use."

With active ingredients of parsley, natural mint and vanilla, Hartz® DENTAL™ Breath-Strips™ for Dogs are micro-thin polymer film strips that dissolve immediately when placed on a dog's tongue to clean and freshen breath. Held in handy, 24-strip cartridges similar to those used for human breath strips, the product was launched in the U.S. and Canada in January for about $2.99.

Primary packaging for the water-soluble strips is a thin, 1.2531.75-in. clear green PP container, decorated with a pressure-sensitive label from The Label Gallery (www.labelgallery.net) that is flexo-printed with the product name and brand colors. For retail sale, the cartridge is packed in a PVC/Aclar PCTFE fluoropolymer film blister (Aclar is a Honeywell [www.aclar.com] brand), sealed to a foil-coated blister-card. Says Cassar, "We decided to use the most protective type of packaging possible to ensure the product's stability."

The protective blister is supplied by CWS (www.cwspackaging.com), which packs the cartridges on a Visual Packaging Systems (www.visualpackaging.com) blister machine. Blister-cards, printed by Dot Packaging Group (www.cardedpackaging.com), contain graphics designed by Hartz' internal design group "to fit into the Hartz DENTAL sub-brand and clearly communicate the product's unique features and benefits," says Cassar.

Since the product's introduction, both dogs—and their owners—have been enjoying Hartz' innovative breath-freshening solution. Circle No. 250.

 

 

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