Paper pouch-bowl empowers breakfast portability

By Rick Lingle in Food Packaging on November 13, 2017

Gluten Free Bar Power Breakfast in an ingenious paper pouch-bowl adds a major boost of convenience for on-the-go hot breakfasting at work and elsewhere.


Gluten Free Bar (GFB), Grand Rapids, MI, has extended its on-the-go healthy snack products into a new meal-time occasion for the brand: a protein-packed breakfast that’s “like oatmeal, but better.” The gluten-free formulation includes oatmeal along with beneficial, flavor-enhancing ingredients such as hemp, flax, fruit, seeds and nuts.

What further separates it from the competition is the proprietary packaging that cleverly marries a standard packet with a paperboard sleeve to deliver a “pouch-bowl” that redefines prepackaged convenience that serves up a hot, healthy breakfast.

The GFB Power Breakfast is available in 5 varieties, Coconut Cashew; Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds; PB+J; Apple Cinnamon; and Maple Raisin, at natural health food stores nationwide with a suggested retail price of $2.49 per 2-ounce package.

"We are stepping outside of the box with this packaging and we think this brings some sorely needed innovation to the oatmeal category," says Elliott Rader, co-founder and partner at GFB. "We wanted to provide our consumers with a healthy breakfast option without compromising on taste or convenience. Power Breakfast is easy to make at the office, at home or out in the wilderness while camping. We like to say Power Breakfast is like oatmeal...but better...better ingredients, better taste, all in a portable and convenient package."

The packaging consists of an inner poly-lined packet glued within a wraparound paperboard sleeve that has a foldable bottom gusset. The consumer bends in the sleeve’s ends to reform the packaging as a boxy-shaped bowl. The sleeve has special scores and die cuts plus a bottom panel that unfolds as a platform to support the inner pouch.

GFB’s cofounding partners Elliott and brother Marshall Rader address Packaging Digest’s questions.

Was the GFB Power Breakfast and packaging developed in concert with the recent introduction of Grab-and-Go-Bites?

GFB: The launch of Power Breakfast is separate from the introduction of our Gluten-Free Bites, but the goal remains the same: create fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks that people will look forward to eating!

For Power Breakfast, it is typically sold individually as single pouches. They do come in a 6-pouch carton with a tear-away top that is intended to be used to display them on shelf.


Is forward-thinking packaging part of the company’s DNA?

GFB: We started out with a very simple product, gluten-free protein bars. We wouldn’t say that the Bar packaging was particularly forward thinking, but customers really responded to that product and we soon thought about creating that same type of product in a different format and packaging. So, a couple of years after launching our bar products, we launched GFB Bites. We took all the good things about our Bars and put them into a bite-size format in a resealable pouch. At the time, the pouched snack category for protein bites didn’t really exist and we do believe we were a pioneer in terms of packaging in the category.

Whenever we evaluate a potential new product concept, it has to meet certain criteria—great taste, gluten-free, non-GMO, plenty of protein, etc. One of those criteria is innovation in packaging and/or product and we’ve built that into our DNA so that we won’t come out with another “me too” type of product. We think what has driven that is a combination of the competitiveness in the space, but more importantly, consumers have come to expect, and even demand, innovation in food. We’ve seen a rapid rise over the past decade or so of food companies that are innovating and grabbing market share away from the traditional food companies—large companies are just not able to react quickly enough to trends and consumer expectations and we expect to see that continue.


Front side view of the packaging that also shows the end creases for folding into a bowl.

What specific consumers are you targeting?

GFB: With all of our products, our first responsibility is to provide fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks to our customers that eat gluten-free out of necessity or choice. Due to cross-contamination issues, oats are a particular concern for those on a gluten-free diet. Power Breakfast is one of the very few “instant oatmeal” products to actually use certified gluten-free oats. Just by doing that we are opening up this market to a historically underserved segment.

Apart from that, Power Breakfast competes in the hot cereal space, with the added benefit of targeting people that will benefit from a more portable solution for instant oatmeal. By adding fruit, nuts, and seeds along with plenty of protein, we believe Power Breakfast is a great solution for anyone, gluten-free or not, that is looking for a better breakfast experience.


How did the pouch-bowl idea originate? And which came first, the product or the packaging?

GFB: The packaging actually came first. The breakfast space was an area where our products have always played in, to some degree, but Power Breakfast allowed us to create a product truly geared towards the breakfast space. We believe we are innovating in the “oatmeal category” by creating a better oatmeal, but the packaging truly makes Power Breakfast an innovative product on all fronts.

[Ed. Note: GFB declined to identify the packaging supplier.]

Backside view of the Power Breakfast packaging.

What were the packaging requirements?

GFB: Creating something food safe and durable was our top requirement. Being a Certified B Corp, recyclability is a huge concern for us so we love the fact that most of the Power Breakfast packaging is recyclable. While not a requirement, ease of filling and being able to pack out into cases and making them easy to display in-store are other areas of concern that we are continuing to improve.

[Ed. Note: On-pack instructions inform consumers to discard the inner poly-lined pouch and recycle the paperboard sleeve.]


What were the graphics design goals?

GFB: The current packaging design was all done in-house and, like with our other products, we use a fair amount of craft packaging to convey the natural and simple characteristics of our products. Since consumers may not fully understand what the product is, we made efforts to communicate that this still is an “oatmeal” product (we say “like oatmeal but better”).

Another packaging goal was to communicate how to actually use the product (how to open, how much water to add, how to prepare) so our packaging has several areas that address that and we are working to make that information even more clear in future iterations.


The paperboard sleeve's scored gusset that folds open on the package bottom provides structural strength and supports the inner pouch.

Is this easy opening via a tear strip or perforation?

GFB: The opening is via a laser perforation; there’s a heat seal above the perforation.


What was the biggest challenge?

GFB: The biggest challenge so far has been in the filling of the pouches. Machinery that can auto-fill this kind of pouch is very limited right now so we’re currently evaluating our options. The other biggest challenge is communicating to customers exactly what this is, but we feel that the unique packaging will get customers to pick it up and figure it out!

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