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Here’s how Home Chef refreshes packaging every couple of weeks

Here’s how Home Chef refreshes packaging every couple of weeks
Home Chef makes frequent packaging updates of ingredients and nutritional info for its seasonal meal kits, thanks to digital printing and processes.

Digital printing and digital workflows help meal-kit company Home Chef update its paperboard packaging every couple of weeks with exact ingredients and nutritional facts for its many seasonal menu offerings—fulfilling its need for packaging and labeling flexibility.

Each week, Home Chef prepares 24 new graphic files for folding carton sleeves for its fresh, refrigerated, ready-to-cook meal kits. Once packaging supplier Zumbiel Packaging receives the art, it prints/cuts/glues the sleeves within 48 hours. No later than two weeks after Zumbiel receives the files, the filled meal kits go to market nationwide.

Zumbiel entered this example of its digital capabilities in the 76th annual North American Paperboard Packaging Competition, an industry competition organized by the Paperboard Packaging Council. Winners will be announced at PPC’s Fall Meeting (Oct. 23-25; Minneapolis).

Regarding this “digital” trend, one of the judges this year, Tony Hitchin, general manager of Pro Carton, said in a press release, “Digital print and cutting is being used much more widely, and not just for personalization, but also to add speed and flexibility to the supply chain.”

Other paperboard packaging trends

Another paperboard packaging trend reported by the Paperboard Packaging Council based on entries to this year’s competition is how beverage packaging is embracing sustainability. According to PPC, “The beverage market is by far the largest end user of folding cartons in the United States, with an estimated 23.0% (1.11 million tons) of total carton shipments in 2018.”

Of this year’s entries, the judges noted how plastic is being replaced with renewable paperboard. For example, highly decorated carton-based beverage multipacks for bottles and cans have been ousting plastic hi-cones and shrink wrap. This allows high-end finishings and design techniques unique to paperboard.

Judge Dr. Nona Woolbright, associate professor of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, said in the press release, “I noticed an overall increase in the use of finishing techniques. When these applications were added to beautifully designed and exciting pieces, the overall visuals were stunning.”

Speaking of new design techniques, here are some seen in this year’s entries:

• A ‘virtual window’ on a Tampax Pearl carton. Supplier PaperWorks Industries Inc. substituted a plastic window for a descriptive graphic of the product inside. Designed to appear as though it were a window on the pack, the graphics have appropriate shadowing and depth-of-field.

• Intricate laser die cutting that eliminates the need for printing;

• Gradient glitter that either changed in color or intensity from top to bottom of the carton; and

• Innovative new tamper-resistant designs.

 Last year, Packaging Digest reported on these “4 emerging paperboard packaging trends”:

1. Digital escalation
2. Everyday upscale
3. Dual- or multi-use designs
4. The cannabis craze

It’s interesting to see the slight shifts in the paperboard packaging trends from year to year.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

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