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New doggie bag zips up freshness

The company that proclaims "Dogs rule™" has found an innovative way to keep these adored pets' tails wagging, while bringing added convenience and value to dog owners. Masterfoods USA, Vernon, CA, the makers of Pedigree® Food for Dogs, has introduced what it says is the first major packaging innovation to hit the mainstream dry dogfood category in decades. The new Pedigree Slide-Rite® zipper bag, featuring a patented slider-zipper closure from Pactiv (www.pactiv.com) adhered to a multiwall paper bag from Exopack (www.exopack.com), is now available for all of the brand's 15- to 22-lb bags of dry dogfood.

"Our research tells us that dog lovers everywhere will love the new Pedigree Slide-Rite zipper bag not just for its ease of use, but also because it can assure dog owners that they are providing their dog with fresh food," says Rob Leibowitz, marketing director for Pedigree. "Like everything we do at Pedigree, this new packaging is designed to enhance the lives of our four-legged family members."

While zippered bags have become the norm in many consumer packaged-goods markets since introduction of the technology in the late '80s, Masterfoods says that its new Slide-Rite bag is the first in the dogfood category to introduce zipper technology to paper bags of dry dogfood packaging. In the past, issues of durability and ease of use for paper bags of this size and weight prohibited the use of zipper closures.

However, when a survey of dog owners revealed that their biggest complaints about dry dogfood packaging related to ease of use and resealability, Masterfoods was no longer willing to let sleeping dogs lie. "Nearly sixty percent of dog owners said that they store their dry dogfood in a separate container in order to retain its freshness and flavor, and prevent insect infestation, while making the food easier and more convenient to dispense," says Erin Ferraiuolo, trade communications manager for Masterfoods. "Dog owners and consumers inspired the Pedigree zipper bag."

The new zipper technology for the dry dogfood bag was designed to eliminate the need for a separate container by creating a closure that helps keep food fresh, while keeping insects or other debris out of the bag. It was also created to increase ease of opening and closing to make feeding time more convenient and less messy for the dog owner.

Although Ferraiuolo declines to comment on exactly how long the Pedigree Slide-Rite bag was in development, she does say that a great deal of time went into the innovation. "It wasn't about getting it done," she tells PD, "it was about getting it done right."

The design of the bag and zipper involved perfecting existing zipper technology, through advancements in materials and tools to create a package that could withstand the rigors of daily openings and closings—an estimated 30 per package, according to Masterfoods—on a regular basis.

The result is a re-engineered zipper and paper bag, complete with a specially formulated, multiwalled liner and adhesives that help reinforce and strengthen the heavier-gauge zipper and packaging. Although much of the information on the bag design is proprietary, Ferraiuolo says that the package is constructed of a multilayer film liner, multiwall kraft paper, a treated, printed kraft ply and a zipper attachment, with the zipper-track profiles adhered with hot-melt adhesive.

Bag graphics were not altered with the packaging change, with the exception of additional text and graphics advertising the enhancement.

The new Pedigree Slide-Rite zipper bag technology represents a significant investment by Masterfoods, as well as an increased cost per bag, but Ferraiuolo says that the increase will not be passed on to consumers. The dry dogfood products will remain at their pre-zipper-bag retail prices of $9 to $13, depending on bag size.

The new packaging was launched in grocery, pet and mass merchandise outlets nationwide in August and is being used for all Pedigree dry dogfood varieties in 15- to 22-lb bags, including Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult, Pedigree Puppy, and Pedigree With Lamb & Rice, as well as Pedigree Large Breed and Small Breed.

So far, response to the easy-open, resealable bag has been very favorable. "In consumer testing, more than ninety percent of those who tried the new packaging said they preferred the Pedigree Slide-Rite closure," relates Ferraiuolo, "and more than eighty percent believed that the slider zipper keeps the food inside fresher." In addition, earlier this year, the bag was awarded a 2005 AmeriStar Award for packaging excellence from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (www.iopp.org).

Says Leibowitz, "We're excited to bring an innovation that is so original that it sparks a 'why hasn't anyone thought of this before' response from dog owners. The Pedigree Slide-Rite Zipper Bag demonstrates our love of dogs and our commitment to offering products that meet their needs and the needs of the people who care and nurture them.

"With this convenient, new packaging, we're bringing added value to dog owners and superior quality to their dogs by ensuring that the freshness and nutrient value of the dry food is good to the last bite."


More information is available:
Exopack, LLC, 877/447-3539. www.exopack.com
Institute of Packaging Professionals, 630/544-5050. www.iopp.org.
Pactiv Corp., 888/828-2850. www.pactiv.com.
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