Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The Snack Shack houses peculiar packaging

The Snack Shack houses peculiar packaging
The popular Weird & Wild Snacks tasting exhibit that debutted at EastPack 2019 now comes to WestPack 2020 as part of The Snack Shack.

Looking for some fun packaging designs to inspire you? Come out to Anaheim, CA, the second week of February 2020 when we’ll open the door to The Snack Shack at WestPack interactive exhibit.

Brought to you by Packaging Digest and our owner, Informa Markets, the Snack Shack is free to attendees of WestPack and its co-located sister shows—MD&M West, ATX West, Plastec and Design & Manufacturing—taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center, Feb. 11-13.

Sample one, two, three or all four activities:

1. Trendy Snack Packs—In this visual display, find inspiration in new and innovative snack packages and see how savvy snack companies are competing with style and structure. From Amazon-branded treats to upscale Pepperidge Farm multipack tubs, we’ll pack the display with a dozen dazzling designs.

2. Key Snack Trends—Learn the major trends feeding the demand for convenient, healthy and eco-friendly snacks.

3. Weird & Wild Snacks—Sample bizarre snacks from around the globe…or double-dog-dare your colleagues to eat up!

4. Lovable Valentine’s Day Packages—Just try not to fall in love with these fun and festive seasonal snack packages. From the intimacy of personalization to classic hearts, Valentine’s Day packaging aims to get that special someone’s attention.

Attendees to WestPack 2020 can visit the Snack Shack in the Lobby for free anytime during show hours. Indulge in our interactive experience highlighting key trends in the fast-growing food segment. Click here to register now!


Fist-bumpFind your success! Subscribe to free Packaging Digest enewsletters.

WestPack 2020 pinpoints emerging packaging trends

WestPack 2020 pinpoints emerging packaging trends
Photo credit: wellphoto -

As consumers steer toward convenient, eco-friendly and dynamic packaging, change is the main constant throughout the massive industry. The market size of the packaging and labeling services industry alone, as measured by revenue, is worth $10.5 billion.

Packaging conferences and tradeshows help packaging professionals sort through emerging trends and identify critical concerns to address. This Feb. 11-13, packaging engineers, manufacturers and executives, will convene at the Anaheim Convention Center for WestPack 2020, the West Coast’s largest packaging event.

Packaging brands will highlight the latest technological advances and solutions in packaging for several industries including pharmaceuticals, cannabis, pet food, among many more. This year marks an exciting milestone for WestPack, as the event will run adjacent to the first-ever Cannabis Packaging Summit. The one-and-a-half-day summit will explore packaging challenges and opportunities facing cannabis manufacturers and how the suppliers of packaging solutions can begin to approach this booming consumer market with greater insight and understanding.

Steve Everly, WestPack brand director, itemizes multiple benefits of attending these upcoming events.

What can attendees look forward to seeing at the show?

Everly: As sustainable and ethical business practices increasingly fuel consumer spending habits and investors’ decisions, significant competitive advantage is available to businesses that invest in sustainability and social impact efforts. WestPack is set to feature the top businesses that are producing convenient, eco-friendly and dynamic packaging on the market today. The show floor will host more than 250 packaging brands highlighting their latest technologies and packaging solutions.

What are the industry trends and main focus areas and topics that will be discussed?

Everly: Beyond the sheer number of suppliers showcasing everything from custom-designed packaging equipment, full packaging lines, opportunities for automation efficiencies and sustainable packaging materials, WestPack is bringing attendees expert education and interactive activities designed to kick-start new projects.

The conference portion of WestPack will offer networking events specific to packaging, as well as a number of presentations and panel discussions in the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Summit and Tech Theater where industry leaders will discuss a range of hot topics affecting smart factory floor adoption—such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and more.

Top sessions include:

How to Apply Cobots in Packaging Applications

Critical Material Performance Considerations for Successful Development, Design and Validation of Medical Device Packaging: A Global Perspective

Packaging Trends Leading to Increased 483's

The Economics of Flexible Packaging

This year, WestPack will run alongside the inaugural Cannabis Packaging Summit. Tell us more about that.

Everly: The global packaging market for cannabis products is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2025. As the industry welcomes a growing number of players, there is an urgent need for innovation and regulation within the market.

The Cannabis Packaging Summit, taking place on the third floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, will convene legislative, regulatory, educational, technology and industry leaders Feb. 11 and 12 for a first of its kind event focused exclusively on cannabis packaging.  

The sold-out show floor will host more than 50 companies exhibiting innovative cannabis packaging products, as well as educational and networking sessions with engineers, brand managers and other key decision-makers.


Andrew Kline, director of public policy for the National Cannabis Industry Assn. (NCIA)

Additionally, Andrew Kline, director of public policy for the National Cannabis Industry Assn. (NCIA), will present the keynote address, “De-scheduling Cannabis: The Road Ahead,” in which he will summarize the industry’s legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, detail the NCIA’s work developing public policy on environmental sustainability and other concerns facing the cannabis sector.

Register to attend WestPack 2020 today.

100% PCR RPET cartons help brands meet sustainable goals

100% PCR RPET cartons help brands meet sustainable goals
Transparent Klearfold RPET100 cartons marry high visual appeal with enhanced sustainability.

New 100% postconsumer recycled (PCR) content version of a 30% PCR RPET clear plastic folding carton aligns with retailer and brand owners’ elevated targets for sustainable packaging.

Up until now, the HLP Klearfold RPET30 been the highest percent PCR available for plastic folding cartons in North America, but the bar has clearly been set higher with RPET100 cartons.

“When we began making 30% box-grade PCR RPET ten years ago, we arrived at 30% content as a proper balance between our customers’ sustainability aspirations at that time and our ability to produce RPET with no perceptible difference in quality as compared to our virgin APET,” says Steve Frazier, president. “Today, many major brand owners and retailers are developing more stringent sustainability goals, many to be implemented by 2025, and our 100% PCR plastic folding cartons can help them get there.” 

Things were set in motion in 2009, which was when HLP Klearfold began a vertical integration program investing in custom extruders designed to make premium-quality, box-grade plastics exclusively. The extruders enabled the company to produce RPET with 30% PCR that is indistinguishable from virgin PET.

Uncompromised performance

Combined with carefully and locally sourced postconsumer PET waste, the company is now able to produce box-grade RPET with 100% PCR with essentially no loss in quality or performance.

“This expansion of PCR offerings enables HLP Klearfold to offer something for everyone across the visual packaging spectrum” states Frazier. “For customers with sustainability goals of varying levels and timelines, we now offer superior quality PCR options of either 30% or 100%, depending on the ambitiousness of their programs. Because the collection and processing of postconsumer waste is more costly, these two PCR content Klearfold carton options are priced at commensurate premiums to virgin PET.”

The company’s vp of marketing Pat McGee informs Packaging Digest that the “RPET100 cartons are commercial with a number of customers, but we’re really just getting started. Unfortunately, there are no applications that I’m able to talk about at this time.”

The company will continue to offer Klearfold RPET30 cartons.

See the new Klearfold RPET100 carton in person at WestPack 2020 (Feb. 11-13; Anaheim, CA) in HLP Klearfold Booth 5361.


Fist-bumpFind your success! Subscribe to free Packaging Digest enewsletters.

A dozen packaging designs that missed the mark

A dozen packaging designs that missed the mark

Brand owners and their packaging designers strive for a bull’s-eye with each new creative brief, but the package designs that make it into the marketplace aren’t always on target.

The reasons for failure are myriad. The package may be great looking and protective of the product, but it’s tough to open; a package may be convenient and easy to use, but it can’t be recycled; or a redesigned package may not do as good a job of ensuring product freshness as the original pack.

Combing through the designs Packaging Digest has covered in years gone by, we found 12 examples of packages that seemed successful at first glance—but generated reader comments ranging from constructively critical to downright hostile.

Read on to learn where each package went wrong, including the specific design failures that our readers discussed in the comments section.


1. Lipton tea bag box is not so golden

Though visually striking, a redesign for 100-count boxes of Lipton tea bags went sadly awry. The redesign eliminated individual paper wrappers for the tea bags and instead used gold foil sleeves on paperboard trays holding 25 tea bags each.

Several readers were concerned about freshness. One wrote, “If the purpose is to keep the tea fresh what happens when you open the gold foil up? 100 tea bags are no longer fresh! Don’t change something that works!!!”

Another piled on, writing, “Terrible idea to not wrap tea bags individually. Once foil sleeve is opened, tea bags [lose] their potency and begin to go stale. Been a Lipton tea drinker over 40 years.”

Other commenters said they missed the portability and cleanliness of individually wrapped tea bags, and some noted that unwrapped tea bags aren’t appropriate for foodservice.

Could there be an easy solution? Some readers suggested wrapping each tea bag in the foil.



2. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise squeeze bottle messes up

The Best Foods/Unilever squeeze bottle for Hellmann’s mayo and other products—designed to make it easy to “Squeeze More Out!”—went sideways with consumers for several reasons.

The inverted bottle uses a clean-lock cap for less mess and a precision tip for better control of dispensing, but apparently the design did not reliably provide these benefits. Numerous commenters complained stridently about how difficult it was to open the bottle. Some resorted to Google for instructions and at least one called the brand owner for help getting into the package.

Several other commenters reported that the bottle was messy, and that it was difficult to get residual product out of the bottle. “Messiest thing ever. Poor poor design,” was how one described the package.

Another wrote, “I have half a bottle left of this and can barely squeeze it to get any out. I am not a fan of this bottle. Waste of my money.”


3. Tropicana multi-serve PET bottle is difficult to open

When PepsiCo switched to a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) handleware container for multi-serve Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, it was shooting for an easy-to-open and -pour package that would be compatible with the existing PET recycling infrastructure. The transparent container, which holds 89 ounces of juice, has a flip-top cap.

The key metric on which the design falls short is ease of opening. Many commenters made the point that the package is anything but simple to open. “A consumer should not have so much trouble opening a product,” wrote one.

Another noted that the package must be “pried open with a knife.”

Yet another added, “I’m another user who needs a butter knife to open the container. Can’t do it with my thumbs. After I do the initial opening, I repackage it to another container. Stupid design.”

On behalf of the package design team, ouch.


4. SeaPak shrimp bag graphics don’t sit well with some

Even packages that are quite well executed vis-à-vis structural design and innovation can drop the ball on graphic design. When the SeaPak brand changed its frozen, breaded shrimp package by adding a zipper to the inner bag and a one-color print with heating/cooking instructions, Packaging Digest executive editor Lisa McTigue Pierce was delighted.

Pierce wrote, “After I open the package, I can more easily store the leftovers in my freezer without taking up too much space, as well as see how much product is left so I know when to replenish my stock.”

But the package graphics irked one commenter, who argued the “packaging looks nothing like the product. A butterfly shrimp looks nothing like inside the package. Poor advertising. Want me to buy this again? No!”


5. Conagra’s Healthy Choice Café Steamers spur microwave concern

The design for Conagra’s Healthy Choice Café Steamers frozen entree packaging features a microwavable two-piece plastic steamer. Film lidding seals the steamer, which is overpacked in a paperboard sleeve.

The packaging is convenient, certainly, but commenters took exception to the “healthy” moniker, raising questions about how healthy it is—or isn’t—to microwave food in plastic. Commenter Wayne Frazzini had heard that “microwaving plastic is a bad idea” but seemed confused as to whether the Healthy Choice package was somehow different from other plastic packaging and therefore safe to microwave.

Frazzini commented, “What is the consumer supposed to believe? Why isn’t this clearly stated on all packaging? If it is safe … [w]hy is it safe? It just doesn’t shout out the differences!”



6. Quaker Overnight Oats trips on sustainability

The Quaker Oats Co.’s convenience packaging for a cold, oat-based breakfast cereal bothered several commenters on environmental grounds. The package is a #7 (Other plastics) single-serve cup with clear film lidding and an overcap. It contains 65g of product.

To prepare the cereal, consumers open the package, pour milk into the cup and let the mixture set up in the refrigerator overnight. Those who prefer hot cereal can pop the prepared product in a microwave oven for 30 seconds.

The size of the package and use of #7 plastic, which many curbside recycling programs do not accept, were sore points with commenters.

Amnon Zamir wrote, “The sustainability side of this packaging is totally overlooked. The volume of this package is at least 3 times more than required for 65gr of oats. That’s a lot of waste, a lot of truck space, increased carbon [footprint] ... it would make more sense to team with a milk producer and sell the product as a 150cc milk container with a flip top for the oats, and would be much better for environment.”

Another commenter added that “#7 plastic is not recyclable and so this product just adds to the destruction of the environment. I am appalled by this packaging.”



7. Orbit gum package structure elicits criticism

Responding to an Orbit Remix/Facebook package design app that enabled consumers to generate personalized package graphics based on their Facebook metrics, commenters focused not on algorithms, digital art or online privacy (the pack debuted well before Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal) but rather on the functionality of Orbit’s packaging.

David Baird commented: “The gum sticks to the paper lining inside of the flimsy cardboard package. Because of this, the lining usually comes loose from the package after removing the first couple of pieces of gum and it takes the rest of the pieces with it.

“You then either have to try to stuff all of that back into the package or remove the gum from the lining and discard the big wad of extra paper that came out with it. It’s just a mess.”



8. Hill’s Science Diet redesign brings out the worst in a critic

A redesign of packaging graphics for Hill’s Science Diet cat food and dog food got the goat of one commenter, who felt strongly that the new graphics were too similar to those the brand uses on packaging for dog treats. The redesign affected more than 2,000 stock-keeping units.

This commenter harangued both the brand owner and the design firm that executed the redesign, calling into question their creativity and integrity. Although he acknowledged that the new bags are white and the treat bags are black, the commenter blasted what he perceived as too much overlap between the two designs.


9. Consumers mistook Benadryl topical gel for an oral product

Johnson & Johnson knew its topical Benadryl packaging was flawed when consumers started ingesting the product instead of applying it to their skin—they were mistaking the topical product for the liquid, oral form of the brand. The consequences in some cases were serious and included emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

The two products have a similar consistency, but the gel’s package design also contributed to the medication errors. The “appearance of the Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel is similar to oral liquid Benadryl products,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in a 2010 safety announcement, “including the shape of the container bottle with a tapered top and a flip top cap.”

The FDA also noted a “lack of clear and prominent direction on the front panel of the topical gel bottle indicating ‘for skin use only.’”

The brand owner addressed the problem by adding a prominent “For Skin Use Only” statement to the front of the bottle and also to the closure, and by doing consumer studies to figure out why people were ingesting the topical gel.

Benadryl Extra Strength Itch Stopping Gel is now packaged in a tube, which also states prominently on the front of the pack that the product is for skin use only.”


10. Opening the Walmart compliance pack stymies consumers

A Walmart compliance pack for pharmaceuticals may help consumers comply with dosing instructions, but commenters have complained bitterly about difficulty opening the package. The blister pack features a tear-resistant outer carton, easy-slide blister and integrated calendar for patients to track their medications. 

One commenter wrote, “I’m an RN and a Certified Guardian. I think those who are prone to confusion or forgetfulness would benefit greatly with pill packs. However, when it comes to taking medication, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to open the package.

“Not only is pain an issue, but just giving up on taking it is [a] choice many have chosen simply because they can’t open the package! How about making it easier to open? Child proof yes, adult proof no. Figure this out you who invented it.”

Another commenter stated that even the dispensing pharmacist had trouble with the package: “He could only get one of them open. I ended up ripping the cardboard open and asking for a plastic pill bottle to put the pills in. I don’t know who they test the new packaging on but I’m sure it was not the elderly.”



11. Coty/Clairol Nice’n Easy redesign: If it’s not broken …

Coty’s package redesign for Clairol Nice’n Easy hair color incorporates a hexagonally shaped carton and graphics with floral accents to evoke the product’s improved fragrance. The new cartons also provide hair-color information on the carton’s top and side so consumers can easily locate their hue.

But not everyone was on-board with the redesign. One commenter wrote that the original package design had “a far neater format. I am a long-term user of this product and professional designer. When I first saw the new packaging, I wondered why on earth they had changed it.”



12. Consumers slam the switch to PET for Old Spice

The switch from imported glass to PET bottles for Old Spice products stirred up strong feelings among Packaging Digest readers who are (or were) brand loyalists. The PET bottles are shatter-resistant and more than 50% lighter than the glass bottles. They also require less energy to manufacture and transport.

But many commenters viewed the change-up as a marketing failure. Noting Old Spice’s “iconic place in history,” J. Derek commented that it is “key in packaging design to consider the effect that the packaging has on the consumer’s perception of contained quality. At least in its glass form, there was an antique essence that went along with its actual long and respected history. Changing it to plastic could have a similar perceptual effect to that of packaging wine in a box.”

Riffing on the same theme, Henry Corbett commented, “I love Old Spice classic cologne. I do not like the new plastic bottle; it looks very cartoon-like with that red stopper and the bottle is so light-weight in comparison to the glass version. I will still buy the cologne but plan to funnel the good smelling water into my empty glass bottle to set on my bathroom sink. Sorry, but plastic after-shave/cologne bottles [are] just not ‘grown-up’ enough for my taste.”