Sturdy bakery boxes are a sweet solution

Packaging Digest Staff

February 1, 2014

5 Min Read
Sturdy bakery boxes are a sweet solution


With 11 stores throughout Manhattan and 1.5 million customers per day, Zaro's Bakery Basket is a New York City institution. Still, many people outside the Big Apple have yet to discover its freshly prepared breads, bagels, cakes, cookies and other bakery items.

Hoping to spread its hot, flaky goodness to customers on the other side of the Hudson River and beyond, the 78-year-old Bronx-based chain partnered with a major online retailer this year for a special summer sales promotion. Delivering delicate delectables cross country, however, presented unique packaging challenges, which Zaro's overcame with the help of a distinctive new packaging substrate from MeadWestvaco's Packaging Resources Group (PRG).

Babka by mail
Zaro's began offering its N.Y. Style Bakery Sampler last summer. The product assortment, which combines some of Zaro's most mouth-watering goodies into one cheerful, brightly colored package, gives consumers from Portland, OR, to Portland, ME, a chance to taste what New Yorkers always told them they were missing.

Because the sampler was being positioned as a gift item, Zaro's needed to present its chocolate babka, ruggelach and black-and-white cookies in a way that would be as tempting to consumers as the products inside. The package would also require a level of strength beyond the carry-out boxes the chain uses in its bakery outlets, because they would be mailed all over the country without corrugated shippers.

Thinking about the box, Zaro's turned to Rand-Whitney, its converter of the past two years. Nearly as old as Zaro's itself, Rand-Whitney has four manufacturing plants, including corrugating, sheeting and imaging facilities, in New England.

"When Zaro's approached us, their main concern was the carton graphics," explains Norman Feit, the Rand-Whitney sales representative who handles Zaro's. "The box they had in mind would perpetuate their New York brand image, with bright yellow and black colors and lighthearted, cartoon-like sketches of New York City landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. The substrate would need to reproduce these graphics without distorting them or washboarding, and be strong enough to maintain the carton's integrity throughout the distribution channel."

Confirms Eli Richman, director of marketing for Zaro's, "We needed an eye-catching package with high-end graphics that would reflect the quality image of the Zaro's brand. In many cases, this would be our introduction to new markets, so we wanted to make a good impression. Plus, it's a gift, so we wanted something special."

For companies like Zaro's hoping to partner with online retailers, finding product packaging that is both attractive and functional has become a critical part of the sell-in process.

Converter Rand-Whitney had run many jobs similar to the Zaro's box on a competitor's linerboard, but it elected to try MeadWestvaco's Coated Post Print Liner™ following a meeting with one of the company's sales representatives. Introduced last spring, Coated Post Print Liner is a premium-quality, coated, bleached linerboard that features a brightness of GE 86 and a smooth printing surface. It was engineered specifically to be roll-fed into corrugators prior to flexographic post printing, resulting in the graphic excellence plus strength combination that was key for the job.

150052-1103zaros2.jpg MeadWestvaco shipped rolls of 40-lb Coated Post Print Liner to Rand-Whitney's Newtown, CT, facility, where the board was converted. Meanwhile, artwork for the box was sent to the converter's design center in Worcester, MA, where company operators retouched it before manufacturing plates using a computer-to-plate process.

In Newtown, Rand-Whitney ran the unprinted board through its 87-in. corrugator, which is constructed of a number of corrugator suppliers' components and offers B- and C- flute capabilities. In the corrugator, the linerboard was combined with a matching corrugated medium and liner to produce a corrugated sheet. Next, the corrugated sheet was run through a 663125-in. four-color printer/die-cutter from United Container Equipment (now owned by MarquipWardUnited, a sub. of Barry-Wehmiller) with two interstation dryers. Here the box was printed, varnished and die-cut in-line, "at really very good production speeds," says Feit.

The self-locking boxes, which measure 10 x 103/4 x 10 in., were baled together in groups, wrapped, and sent via Rand-Whitney trucks to the Zaro's headquarters in the Bronx for manual filling. In total, 5,000 boxes were produced for the promotion.

A delicious job from start to finish
According to Niles Vogel, Rand-Whitney's production manager, Coated Post Print Liner performed well on press, with no dusting or cracking issues. Plus, because of its styling and finish, color matching was more exact. The board also provided excellent ink holdout and produced a high-quality product that clearly reproduced the minute details of the New York illustrations.

"Beyond its aesthetics and strength, we were also attracted to the operational efficiencies that came along with using Coated Post Print Liner," explains Vogel. "The board stays flat when corrugated and runs consistently. This, along with its tear strength and resistance to score cracking, allowed us to increase throughput speeds and minimize waste. Any time we can be more efficient and productive, it's a clear advantage."

Rand-Whitney's ability to handle the process from start-to-finish also reduced lead times. "There was no need to print the carton somewhere else and have it sent here to be converted," adds Vogel. "We produced the entire job in our own plant, which is both advantageous to us and economical for Zaro's."

Bob Lippincott, segment manager, packaging for MeadWestvaco's PRG, says that Rand-Whitney and similar corrugators and sheet plants have long searched for a substrate that would run on their high-end, multicolor flexo presses. "Coated Post Print Liner finally gives corrugators the ability to use the full graphic capability of the presses they own, and enables them to expand the markets they serve," he says. "What's more, it allows them to deliver graphically superior packages, increasing customer satisfaction and generating repeat business."

While Feit says that Rand-Whitney experienced the normal learning curve that goes along with using any new products, he cites MeadWestvaco's Technical Sales Service team as key helping the converter learn how to run the new substrate consistently and efficiently.

The result, Richman says, was a Zaro's sampler carton that "looked good enough to eat."

More information is available:

Linerboard: MeadWestvaco Corp., Packaging Resources Group, 203/461-7400. Circle No. 203.

Converter: Rand-Whitney, 508/791-2301. Circle No. 204.

Printer/die-cutter: MarquipWardUnited, a sub. of Barry-Wehmiller Corp., 410/592-5400. Circle No. 205.

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