Outstanding innovations in flexible packaging happen on a rather frequent basis. But each year at this time, we get to see the best in the industry as the Flexible Packaging Assn. honors the winners of its annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards.
As one of three judges for this year’s competition, I spent two days late last year immersed in printing jargon, playing with opening features and peeling apart structures with co-judges Dr. Joongmin Shin, associate professor, Industrial Technology and Packaging, California Polytechnic State University, and Brian Wagner, co-founder and principal, of prominent packaging consulting firm PTIS LLC.
I can personally attest to the thorough job we did in analyzing each of the 66 packages submitted for judging. Despite the differences in our packaging knowledge and experience, all three of us were nearly unanimous in our decisions—something that doesn’t happen all that often, from my recollection. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve served as an FPA judge in the past, but can only hope I’m invited again in the future as this is one of the best run packaging competitions that exists.
In this competition, a package can win multiple awards, and in different categories. Packages can win a Highest Achievement Award (the best of the best), Gold Awards and Silver Awards. The five categories are: Packaging Excellence, Printing and Shelf Impact, Technical Innovation, Sustainability and Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging.
Winners were recognized and received their awards on Tues. night, March 13, during the FPA's annual meeting at a gala ceremony.
You can see all the winners on the Flexible Packaging Assn.’s website, including the wildly creative student award winners. But here are 10 packages that won Gold Awards in the 2018 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition, which is now in its 62nd year:
1. Blue Bunny’s “box pouch” hops into shopping carts (see image at top of page)
Earning the Highest Achievement Award for package manufacturer Plastic Packaging Technologies LLC, this “box pouch” helps Wells Blue Bunny ice cream treats stand out in the freezer, both in the store and at home.
Wells’ debut of a pouch in the carton-dominated frozen treats category may be the first application of flexible packaging in this category. Adding to its uniqueness, and its functionality, is a clear window so consumers can see the product quality.
Additionally, a reseal feature lets consumers keep the branded primary package until all the treats are gone. But because the package is flexible, rather than a rigid carton, it can fold down to save space in a home freezer.
This high-achieving dual-web package won four other awards, too:
Gold Award for Packaging Excellence: How this package performs on the packaging line was equally important. Wells needed the top to fully open for efficient product filling, which is difficult to do with a reclose feature. But this zipper closure—which is on the back panel to keep the front panel pristine for ultimate branding—allows that. And because of this pouch design, Wells is able to create the final top seal on a simple band sealer.
Gold Award for Sustainability: The pouch weighs 17 grams, which is 73% less than a comparable paperboard carton.
Silver Award for Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging: Plastic Packaging Technologies says this may be the first flexible package in the frozen treats section—and Packaging Digest was not able to find any evidence to dispute that.
Silver Award for Printing and Shelf Impact: Seeing the ice cream through the clear window appeals to consumers, as they like to assess a product before they buy. Also, an ultra-high-opacity white ink behind the printed design area provides brilliant graphics and colors to compete with similar looks on printed cartons.
NEXT: Want a packaging material that runs at high speed? Get on the Autobahn
Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; New York City). This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!