From small fruits come big rewards

Bernard Abrams

January 29, 2014

10 Min Read
From small fruits come big rewards

Design's particular talent for seeking out specific consumers for a product is sometimes appreciated mostly by designers, until the bottom line emerges. Suddenly, glasses are raised in a toast. That's what's happening with two firms and their clients, who are celebrating the Mobius Package Design Awards (, presented weeks ago at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles.

Arising from a field of 47 entries, the two top U.S. winning products are based on a small fruit and an unusual leaf—the wine grape and the morinda citrifolia, also known as the noni leaf, native to French Polynesia, respectively.

The grapes are a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a 1995 Carneros Cuvée from Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves/Freixenet USA, Sonoma, CA. A strategy for the sparkling white wine and its package "began very early," says David Brown, Freixenet USA vp of marketing. "We started to plan the bottle design in 1993," he says. "We selected the best fruit of the 1995 harvest and spent seven and a half years en triage, more time on the yeast than any wine we've ever crafted."

Using methode champagnoise techniques, the vintner carefully blended 12 different base wines to create the final cuvée, self-dosing to preserve the brilliant fruit flavors inherent to the Carneros.

Calling in the firm CF Napa ( to start work on the package design, Brown remembers remarking that one necessary feature of the 750-mL bottle was that there be no internal seam of any kind to trap yeast sediment. This can occur while the bottles are being turned on their sides at 0-deg-C storage, prior to removal of the frozen yeast plug, one of the final production steps.

A second instruction was to develop a unique, memorably beautiful bottle to hold and sell the Carneros. "I've always admired the French champagne packaging approach," Brown says. "We saw that this was going to be our finest sparkling wine, brilliant, beautifully structured and delicious with tiny bubbles. I wanted the package to be at home in some of the finest restaurants in California, New York and a few other places."

Released last year at a $50 unit price in a total output of only 4,006 bottles, packed in six-bottle cases, the wine is being very well received, Brown notes. "We sold through about 2,500 cases initially, and the balance is moving very briskly as consumers and restaurants have come to realize just what we've accomplished."

At CF Napa, president/creative director David Schuemann recalls, "My partner at the time, John Farrell, and I evolved a contemporary, elegant expression of the classic champagne bottle that we would expect, at the time of being released, would still be viewed as contemporary, relevant and premium. The sleek shape of the glass emulates the fluid curve of pouring wine."

Noting the comparatively extreme curve of the bottle, produced by Saverglass ( using an anti-UV antique green to protect the wine, Schuemann remembers the glassmaker silk-screening the bottle with a durable, enamel material for primary labeling. According to Saverglass, the Gloria Ferrer logotype on the face and other decoration are durable in the cellar indefinitely and allow aging up to 10 years without quality issues.

For required information, a secondary label presented its own problems related to the bottle's curve. The solution provided by Cameo Crafts International ( is a black, 2-mil biaxially oriented polypropylene label, screened in a proprietary red, custom rotary die-cut and made pressure-sensitive with a permanent adhesive.

Once the bottle receives its multisourced natural cork stopper and a wire hood—a feature associated with champagne packaging—it is given a black capsule decorated with a grape cluster produced by Ramondin USA ( The material is described as a proprietary "poly" laminate, produced by Ramondin in Spain.

The final touch, combining a practical and decorative rationale, is a leather tag suspended from the bottle's graceful neck. Made by PackagingARTS (, the 2 1/4 X 5/8-in. tag is a naturally tanned leather bonding two hide pieces of fawn full grain for an eminently writable surface that enables manual entry of the dosage and tirage dates. Decorated in black and proprietary red, the tag is fitted with an antiqued brass eyelet and a black, waxed cotton thread.

Aiming to unite a diverse collection of products derived from the noni fruit and its leaves and to honor the French Polynesian culture is a design system by Hornall Anderson Design Works ( for Tahitian Noni International (TNI) of Provo, UT.

The designs have definitely enhanced sales right from the beginning. But the packages are now also perceived as high end, and they position us perfectly in terms of our future plans.

Involving 11 products in a packaging graphics transition that began last year, the second top Mobius winner is cited as a group because of the extreme flexibility of the design system. There is also a bow to environmental sensitivity combined with a high level of creativity in the packages' worldwide distribution, PD learns from Bruce Call, TNI's senior manager, and Tom Black, senior manager and managing director of creative services.

The HADW design system communicates the exotic Polynesian locale through graphics based on oil paintings commissioned by the design firm that capture an Impressionist feeling relating to artist Paul Gauguin, though with a more detailed brushstroke. The primary figures, rendered in vibrant colors, are a native with conch shell and a group scene, both in lush tropical settings. For maximal impact, the artwork runs full-bleed through the packages.

Product identification combines with assurance of authenticity in a tickertape-like label that hovers above the artwork. This label is in three segments: the Tahitian Noni® logotype, an authenticity seal and a product descriptive, all against a subtly idealized background of the noni leaf and flower.

Vividly representing the design system is the package for Tahitian Noni Premium Reserve, described as a gourmet glaze of concentrated noni with honey. Holding 9 oz of product that can be used as a dessert topping and food flavoring, a squat glass jar acquired through Richards Packaging ( is sealed by a silver-toned, threaded metal closure from Penn Wheeling Closures ( that is acquired through Compax (

Wrapping around three sides of the jar is a p-s, die-cut label bought through Compax that Taylor Made Labels ( prints flexographically on a 3 1/2-mil, coated-one-side stock in eight colors using aqueous inks and laminate.

The jar is presented in a straight-tuck folding carton acquired through Custom Packaging ( and converted by )Olympus Packaging ( using a C1S .018 Candesce stock from Potlatch Paperboard (, printed via offset lithography in process colors plus coating and an ultra-matte aqueous coating. Supporting the jar's weight is a 29-ECT, E-flute, high-performance white liner with kraft medium, also made by Olympus and acquired through Custom Packaging.

Showing off the design system most spectacularly are three zippered standup pouches for dry products. Two hold dietary supplements: a 495-g quantity of Tahitian Noni High Protein Drink and 336 g of Tahiti Trim® Cleanse Tea. The third contains a 375-g fiber blend that is unflavored and unsweetened.

The pouches are manufactured of a 4.2-mil lamination of polyester/polyethylene/foil/PE by Mayor Packaging ( and bought through Custom Packaging. The Compax-supplied, p-s, die-cut labels are produced by Taylor Made to precisely the same specifications as the jar label. Affixed to the pouches, the labels project a strong, positive impact that endures through the usage-life of the packages.

An English package won best-in-show in the 2003 Mobius awards, and three Sony jewel-box entries showcased CD collections with imagination. Read more about it at info/mobius03

Other Tahitian Noni packages that share in the Mobius Award are a 201-g carton of noni leaf tea, a 180-mL amber glass bottle of Healthy Heart concentrated fruit extract, a 10-mL amber glass bottle with pump spray for noni seed oil, a metal tube holding 30 mL of noni leaf serum (all cartoned), plus a 90-capsule, polyethylene terephthalate amber bottle of Tahiti Trim Omega 3, 6, 9 blend and another amber PET bottle holding 90 capsules of Tahiti Trim appetite suppressant.

Designed by HADW, a two-piece, tinplate canister with a friction-fit lid from China for Tahitian Noni Tahiti Trim® Cleanse tea features two p-s, die-cut labels (also from Taylor Made) that wrap around two sides of the canister. The labels are flexo-printed in seven colors.

Best of all, results of the new packaging designs have met with positive feedback from several perspectives, according to TNI. Senior product manager Brad Cordero tells PD that "the designs have definitely enhanced sales right from the beginning. But the packages are now also perceived as high end, and they position us perfectly in terms of our future plans."

In other words, they're the berries.

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