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Skyr retells its story via innovative packaging

Skyr retells its story via innovative packaging
Skyr's PP inner cup is completely wrapped in a paper exterior for easier recycling.

Icelandic Provisions' Skyr is reintroduced in more easily recycled, new-to-North America paper-wrapped PP cups packaging with new graphics that better celebrate the brand’s heritage.

Based in New York City, Icelandic Provisions has established a kind of brand-made bridge between the United States and Iceland. It was cofounded by Polaris Founders Capital and MS Iceland Dairies, the country’s largest and oldest dairy co-op of more than 700 Icelandic family farms and milk producers. MS Dairies began exporting skyr to Whole Foods stores in the Northeast U.S. under the brand “” about 10 years ago. Skyr (pronounced “skeer”) is described as an Icelandic cultured dairy product with the consistency of strained yogurt, but with a much milder flavor and a slightly sour dairy note along with a hint of sweetness, The January 2016 launch of Icelandic Provisions introduced skyr, to a wider audience stateside. Originally manufactured in Iceland, the company has since moved manufacturing to Batavia, NY, in early 2017.

In another bold move, the brand’s packaging is now changing in look and structure through the launch of a first-of-a-kind packaging in North America paired with a major graphics redesign, managed by Moxie Sozo, to evoke the cultural, creative and geographic history of Iceland. The whimsical-looking new packaging done for eight flavors  is in soft rollout in late 2017 through all of its markets of 5,000 stores.

The company changed from a printed shrink-sleeved polypropylene cup to a clear PP cup with an easily removable printed paper wrapped-label that also covers the cup base and is printed with additional product information on the back. Both components are 100% recyclable.

Packaging Digest explores the repackaging through the insights of Elliot Shifrin, the company’s vp of marketing.

Tell us about the overall design strategy.

Shifrin: There were two main goals with the packaging update: first, to get to a more eco-friendly package that is easily recycled and second, to better tell the heritage story of skyr and celebrate our unique fruits and flavors. The ingredients we use are unique to the U.S.; most notably the heirloom skyr culture that makes our product the only traditional Icelandic skyr available on the market. In addition, we wanted to highlight our skyr’s excellent nutritional benefits on the front of pack.

Side-by-side comparison of New (left) and Old packaging. Graphics were printed on shrink-sleeve label previously.

What wasn’t working with the previous packaging design?

Shifrin: There wasn’t anything not working with the old design (above photo right), it was simply a matter of enhancing our ability to tell our full story with a detachable paper wrap that allows us to print on both sides. There’s a lot to discover in the new cup including that it is easier to recycle. Our old cup was also recyclable, but it required some work. 

The structure of the cup is brand new to North America and cultured dairy. It is a K3H package created in partnership with Greiner Packaging. This new cup shape and labeling allows us to print the UPC code on the [paper] bottom providing more usable space to share benefits and product information.

No other brand in the category does this, which helps to keep the cup upright as much as possible during the scanning process at check-out.  It reiterates Icelandic Provisions’ focus and commitment to quality – the cup should remain upright at all times so the customer gets the best quality product

Making the cup more easily recyclable was very important to us. The paper sleeve easily comes off to allow the paper and plastics to be recycled separately.

The paper portion has a pull-tab zipper on the side to permit consumers to easily separate the paper and plastic portions of the packaging.

What was the most difficult decision to make?

Shifrin: What to leave out in terms of the story and benefits of our skyr. There is a lot to tell about this 1000 year old skyr tradition and we see it as our job to educate American consumers about it.

Who’s your center-of-target consumer?

Shifrin: Our target for this cup is a group we call life architects, a group that is looking to get more out of their food than just great nutrition and taste. We collected a lot of feedback from them as well as our retailers, both wanting to know more about the product’s history and heritage.

The Arctic Fox appears in several places on the paper wrap and most prominently on the portion that seals the package bottom. What’s that about?

Shifrin: The Arctic Fox is the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland. It was there before the settlers came and has endured a lot—think volcanoes erupting and harsh winters—to survive over the centuries. We have taken the fox on as our unofficial mascot at Icelandic Provisions and are supporting the Arctic Fox Center in northern Iceland, who acts as a preservation for wild and tame foxes.

Cup's paper base (left)  is printed with the brand mascot and, notably, a UPC code whose location on the bottom is atypical in the category, but seamlessly convenient for stores. The easy-tear tab strip that separates the components for recycling is seen in the right photo.

Is there a multipack format?  

Shifrin: There is no multipack at this time, though a multiserve, larger-cup format is in the works. We are currently working on our secondary packaging to make it more environmentally friendly like our cup.

What’s been the response?

Shifrin: It has just been launched so the only response we’ve had is from retailers and buyers, who love the new cup and believe it will help us remain as the fastest-growing brand in the cultured dairy set.


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.



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