Flexible packages are in it to win it

Flexible packages are in it to win it
Schwan's Soft Serve Ice Cream spouted pouch

On Tues., March 4, 2014, the Flexible Packaging Assn. presented its 2014 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards. Winners raise the bar for convenience, sustainability and shelf appeal.

The best pouches, bags and flexible packages of every kind are once again brought front and center with the Flexible Packaging Assn.’s annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition.

This year, 81 packages competed in the competition. Entrants’ innovations targeted consumer trends, sustainability and technical breakthroughs. The judges recognized 22 packages with 26 awards in four categories: Packaging Excellence, Printing Achievement, Technical Innovation and Sustainability & Environmental Achievement.

‘Magic’ pouch combines clarity with foil-like barrier
Winning top honors this year was the Model Magic clear barrier overwrap package, which Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. created for a Crayola modeling compound.

In addition to receiving the Highest Achievement Award—which is presented to the Gold Award winner that, in the judges’ view, contributed most to advancing the flexible packaging industry—the package won a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence and a Gold Award for Technical Innovation.

The material used to create the 4-oz, flow-wrap pouch incorporates Rollprint’s ClearFoil Z film, which provides extremely high clarity plus moisture barrier comparable to aluminum foil. The film “provides barrier properties 100 times better than those found with other non-foil structures,” says Dhuanne Dodrill, president of Rollprint. This was essential to keep the air-sensitive product from drying out.

The package offers merchandising benefits, as well. A large round window on the front of the reverse-printed pouch displays the product, which comes in a range of bright colors. In contrast, the product’s old package, which used aluminum foil for barrier, had no windows.

“In addition to not being able to see the vivid colors of Model Magic, the foil package would also wrinkle when handled. Because consumers enjoy squeezing the modeling compound when it’s still on the shelf, the packages could look ‘beat up’ while still on the shelf,” Dodrill says. In contrast, the new package remains crisp looking throughout distribution and display.

Rollprint Packaging Products Inc., 800-276-7629800-276-7629

We all scream for ice cream…in a soft-serve dispenser pouch
Schwan’s Soft Serve Ice Cream pouch, which makes it possible for consumers to enjoy soft-serve ice cream without leaving home, won a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence.

The dispensed ice cream even looks like it came from an ice-cream parlor, thanks to a specially engineered fitment. “The fitment is a custom design that allows the consumer to have the ‘soft-serve’ experience at home by being able to produce the signature swirl that is associated with soft-serve ice cream,” explains Jane Chase, senior director of packaging engineering at The Schwan Food Co.

Schwan designed the package’s graphics in-house and worked with Ampac to develop the pouch’s structure. The package is made from a proprietary, laminated, multilayer material and printed via rotogravure in six colors. The pre-made pouches, which do not have a gusset, were designed for filling on existing equipment.

Because the pouch is shaped like an ice-cream cone, it is comfortable to hold and squeeze—so it’s easy to eat directly from the pouch or swirl the ice cream into a cone. The package also has a screw cap for easy storage of leftover product.

Unlike conventional retail products, Schwan’s Soft Serve Ice Cream is sold via the brand owner’s home-delivery truck system. The product is available in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate.

Ampac, 513-671-1777513-671-1777

Bonfire Wines heats things up with a barrel-shaped pouch
The Bonfire Wines stand-up pouch took home a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence. Ignite white wine and Ember red wine blends are sold in the tapered 1.5-liter package, which is stylish, convenient and eco-friendly.

The pouch has die-cut handles for easy handling. It is also easy to open and features one-touch dispensing via a built-in tap. After opening, the package protects the wine’s flavor profile for up to four weeks.

Further, the Bonfire pouch weighs substantially less than glass packaging, requires less energy to produce and less fuel to transport. The pouch’s carbon footprint is 80 percent smaller than a comparable glass bottle, calculated over the life cycle of the package.

With an OPET outer layer, metallized-polyester core layer and Curwood Inc.’s Liquiflex Advance film as the product-contact layer, the film structure provides required strength and stiffness as well as the barrier and organoleptic properties needed to protect wine. The film also provides an excellent surface for printing.
Curwood laminates and prints the rollstock film, which Pouch Converting Technologies Inc. converts into pouches.

The biggest challenges of developing a liquid stand-up pouch of this size were “developing a customized laminate film substrate with balanced stiffness properties to convert on industry pouching equipment—which would also present well on retail store shelves and have the strength and durability to survive the rigors of distribution,” says Jon Pietsch, market manager for liquid packaging at Curwood.

Curwood Inc., A Bemis Co., 920-527-7300920-527-7300
Pouch Converting Technologies Inc., 262-670-9200262-670-9200

Refill pouch offers ease of use and sustainability benefits
Winning a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence, the Flowpack refill pouch for Herbal Essences products combines consumer convenience with environmental friendliness. The colorful stand-up pouch, which is distributed throughout Japan, holds 340g of conditioner.

The pouch is made from a nylon/vacuum-metallized PET/polyethylene film that is rotogravure printed in eight colors. Fujimori Kogyo Co. Ltd. supplies the printed pouches and is represented in the U.S. by Zacros America.

Designed as a single-use refill pack, the Flowpack pouch includes easy-open/pour features. At the upper left corner of the pouch is a laser-scored tab that the consumer tears off to access a pouring spout.

“This spout is integrated into the pouch and ensures accurate product flow, and [it] is fused to the inside so it will not fall out,” explains Yuji Toda, a marketing manager for Fujimori Kogyo. “Above the spout is the laser-scored tear line, and above that is an area of film with a texturized gripping surface. The laser score allows the consumer to simply tear off the film above the spout by hand for a clean, no-mess opening experience.”

From a sustainability perspective, the package stacks up well against rigid packages. Specifically, the pouch is 75 percent lighter, produces about one-sixth the carbon dioxide emissions and, when empty, takes up significantly less space than a rigid container of the same volume.

The Flowpack pouch even offers environmental benefits vs other spouted pouches; it does not use a rigid-plastic closure, so overall plastic consumption is less.

Fujimori Kogyo Co. Ltd., Dist. By Zacros America, Inc. 847-397-6191847-397-6191

Ghostly technology combats counterfeiters
The judges recognized Ghost technology, which fights counterfeiting by embedding a watermark-like identifier in flexible packaging materials, with a Gold Award for Technical Innovation. Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. invented the technology and is the exclusive supplier of Ghost watermarked films.

The repeating watermark, which is actually an optical effect, is added by cooling the extrudate differentially during film manufacturing. The technique produces sharp images and crisp type down to 4-point size, and the effect is visible to the naked eye.

No additives are required to create the watermark effect, and it can be added with little extra cost to the brand owner. It’s also enormously difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. A variety of composite constructions, including transparent films and foil structures, are compatible with the technology.

“Ghost is appropriate for any product that is at risk for counterfeiting and that is packaged in a flexible or semi-rigid package or uses a tray with a flexible lid,” says Dhuanne Dodrill, president of Rollprint. These include pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronic components, collectables, documents and jewelry.

Rollprint Packaging Products Inc., 800-276-7629800-276-7629

‘Steam dome’ pouch makes microwaved burgers easy—and delicious
The Hillshire Brands Heat Fresh Pouch, developed jointly by Hillshire Brands and Curwood Inc., won a Gold Award for Technical Innovation.

The package comprises a coextruded, nylon-based forming film paired with a non-forming film that is a two-ply extrusion lamination of cellulose and polypropylene. Curwood supplies the forming and non-forming films for the package, which can run on any horizontal form/fill/seal machine.

The pouch, in which Hillshire Brands packages its frozen Ball Park hamburgers and cheeseburgers, provides the convenience of in-pack cooking plus “a much better microwaved product,” says John Kearny, a Curwood market manager for national accounts.

Kearny explains that during microwave cooking, the package creates a “steam dome” that heats sandwiches evenly without making bread soggy or chewy. It’s an easy, one-step process for the consumer, who simply places the package in the microwave and walks away until the timer goes off. The pouch peels open easily after cooking.

During microwaving, moisture inside the pouch rises to the top of the package and then runs down the sides of the forming film to the non-forming film on bottom, which absorbs the moisture. The package also allows steam to vent.

Curwood Inc., A Bemis Co., 920-527-7300920-527-7300

Lego pouch balances on-shelf, consumer and eco benefits
A Gold Award for Sustainability & Environmental Achievement went to the Lego Hero Factory shaped stand-up pouch with reclosing feature. The reusable package, from Sonoco, represents a new package format in the toy category. In addition to its eco benefits, the brightly printed pouch provides shelf appeal, easy reclosability for little hands and convenient product storage.

The pouch is shaped like the toy it contains and is rotogravure printed in bright colors on high-gloss film, creating a splashy brand billboard. The film structure is PET/inks/adhesive/LLDPE.

After the consumer cuts off the top of the pouch, the package’s press-to-close feature makes it easy to access the product—and to reclose the package when play time is finished and the product is back in the pouch.

Sonoco used the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool (PIQET) tool to evaluate the pouch and found that it reduces carbon footprint 64.6 percent vs a cardboard box and 91.4 percent vs a plastic canister. In addition, the pouch weighs 80 percent less than those package formats.

The brand owner enjoyed a one-stop shop for this project: Sonoco printed and laminated the rollstock, created the package’s structural design and graphics and performed color separation, cylinder engraving, pouch converting and even pouch filling.

Sonoco, 800-377-2692800-377-2692

Woven poly bag for dog food uses zipper and pinch seal
The Natural Life pinch/slider woven poly bag from cei (Coating Excellence Intl.) took home two Gold Awards, one for Packaging Excellence and another for Technical Innovation. The large-format bag, which holds 17.5 pounds of dry dog food, improves product protection, convenience and brand image vs competitive package formats.

According to cei, the bag is the first commercial woven poly bag to be pinch sealed (at the bottom) and have a reclosable slider zipper (at the top). The bags are made from multilayer film with an outer layer of OPP.

To overcome a key limitation of conventional, non-heat-sealable woven poly bags—which require a sewn or roll-fold-tape end—cei developed a heat-seal adhesive for the pinch seal on the Natural Life bag and also found an adhesive compatible with the slider zipper and OPP film. The bag manufacturer developed equipment to attach the zipper to the bag, as well.

The easy-to-open/reclose bag keeps the kibble fresh and addresses consumers’ top complaint about bulk bags of pet food, namely the need to transfer the product to a reclosable container.

The scuff-resistant, reverse-printed Natural Life bag displays better than multiwall paper bags. And because it is more durable than paper, product damage and contamination are reduced.

cei (Coating Excellence Intl.), 920-996-1900920-996-1900

Agricultural pack uses print effects for brand differentiation
Winning a Gold Award for Printing Achievement, the Starthene Power insecticide package from Paharpur 3P uses an eye-catching combination of matte and gloss printing.

The film used for the package is PET/adhesive/aluminum foil/adhesive/PE that’s reverse-printed in eight colors via rotogravure using polyurethane-based inks and surface matte coating.

“This is a retail pack and is being sold in special retail outlets called Farmer Resource Centers in India,” says Debarshi Ray, head-quality assurance and process improvement, Paharpur 3P. Ray adds that the package “serves the purpose of attracting consumers as well as giving a premium feel to the product.”

The package stands out from competitive products at retail because it’s the only one printed with both matte and gloss effects. Paharpur 3P chose a matte coating with maximum haze to create a paper-like look for the package.

Spot lamination of package graphics, including the eyes of the tiger and the lion image, “enhance the appearance and catch [consumers’] attention while improving its aesthetic look,” says Vijay Kumar Bhatt, business head with Starthene brand owner SWAL Corp. Ltd. The brand name also is spotted in gloss.

Bhatt adds that the Starthene package is “quite distinctive…compared to competitor packaging” thanks to the registered matte coating and spot lamination. The package comes in four sizes, with fill weights from 100g to 1kg.

Paharpur 3P, +91 120-4389-100+91 120-4389-100

Animated character changes color on interactive yogurt pack
The Yoplait Go-Gurt “Despicable Me 2” pouch, with color-shifting graphics, won a Gold Award for Printing Achievement. Converter Printpack Inc. worked with ink supplier Segan Industries Inc. to develop the package, which is printed with thermochromatic inks.

Designed to appeal to kids, the package piggy-backed on the release of Pixar’s “Despicable Me 2” movie. Graphics on the stick pack feature a minion character from the film. When the product is refrigerated, the minion is purple. But as the package warms up in the consumer’s hand, the minion turns yellow.

The interactive package required three thermochromatic-ink colors: red and blue, to make purple, plus yellow. Significantly, the ink formula is formaldehyde-free, so the ink can contact food without contaminating it. The pouch material is polyester with a polyethylene extrudate sealant film.

According to Printpack, the pouch is the first flexible package to be printed with non-formaldehyde thermochromatic inks.

Printpack Inc., 404-460-7000404-460-7000
Segan Industries Inc., 650-777-4200650-777-4200

Kate Bertrand Connolly is a seasoned freelance writer based in the San Francisco area covering the packaging, food and technology markets. You can contact her at kate.connolly@sbcglobal.net.

2014 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards: Silver Winners
Read descriptions of the Silver Award winners at the FPA website: www.flexpack.org.

Ajanta Paneer
Manufacturer: Paharpur 3P
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Amcor’s StayClean
Manufacturer: Amcor Flexibles, 800-447-0049800-447-0049, www.amcor.com
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Bonfire Wines Stand-up Pouch
Manufacturer: Curwood Inc., a Bemis Co.
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Cascadian Farm Cereal Liner
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Chocolates Rellenos Britt
Manufacturer: Peruplast S.A.. +511 630-8800, www.peruplast.com.pe
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

Crystal Light Mocktails
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

EcoFlex 99 Fountain Beverage Bag
Manufacturer: Liqui-Box Corp., 800-260-4376800-260-4376, www.liquibox.com
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Ghost Technology
Manufacturer: Rollprint Packaging Products Inc.
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Lehar Snack Food Pouch
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc., 281-580-4200281-580-4200, www.flexamericainc.com
Silver Award: Sustainability & Environmental Achievement

Novel Nine-layer Film for Dry Food Packaging
Manufacturer: Berry Plastics Corp., 812-424-2904812-424-2904, www.berryplastics.com
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

S.C. Johnson Glade PlugIns Winter Collection
Manufacturer: American Packaging Corp., 585-254-9500585-254-9500, www.ampkcorp.com
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

Tide Detergent Pouch
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc.
Silver Award: Technical Innovation

Qrill Meat 20-kg Bag
Manufacturer: Flex America Inc.
Silver Award: Packaging Excellence

Whiskas Carne 500g
Manufacturer: Printpack Inc.
Silver Award: Printing Achievement

Pull-tab pouch: Product of the Day

Pull-tab pouch: Product of the Day

Ampac’s Pull Tab beverage pouch provides an alternative format to the traditional straw-punch through beverage pouch. It is a new beverage pouch to the European and North American beverage market which provides hygienic protection of the straw hole with a tear-away Pull Tab label. The premade hole on the pouch body, covered by the label that is applied by fully automatic label dispensers, is novel for this application. It combines innovative packaging with technology to enhance marketing and allows for hot filling on start-up machines as well as high-speed lines. The Ampac Pull Tab label can be custom designed, allowing for printing on the label which is a great way to enhance the marketing message or branding and share new information in an attractive way.

Some unique features and benefits of the Pull Tab beverage pouch include enhanced convenience in the “smart” opening of the pull tab as a result of the straw being glued on the label. By removing the straw, the label gets “pre-opened” at the same time and therefore the opening of the tab is facilitated versus “piercing” through the pouch membrane as in other beverage pouches. A stopper on the label is in place to prevent it from detaching completely from the pouch, creating an option to re-close the label if the pouch is not fully consumed.

Another advantage to food manufacturers includes the option of larger straw hole diameters as the straw no longer has the function of piercing the laminate as with existing beverage pouches, therefore larger diameters are possible up to 8mm. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to smoothie products and thicker drinks.

Ampac’s Pull Tab product offering can reach customers with low volume requirements as they validate their products’ market potential as well as those with large volume needs that will run on high speed filling equipment.

The first customer launch of the Ampac Pull Tab was October 2013 at the Basel Autumn Fair, with a second customer on board for a mid-2014 introduction with a t-shirt designed Ampac Pull Tab pouch.  Both applications are being sourced from Ampac’s Kirchberg, Switzerland manufacturing site with plans for developing capabilities for North America.

Standard sizes for the Ampac Pull Tab include the smallest 90ml size, a 180-200ml size and a 200ml size. The film is a PET/FOIL/PE structure with applications for fruit juice, smoothies, stabilized milk, non-alcohol and non-carbonated beverage markets. A version for the alcohol market is currently under development.


Smithers Pira partners with SPC to create premier sustainable packaging event

Smithers Pira partners with SPC to create premier sustainable packaging event
Nina Goodrich, executive director of GreenBlue and director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and John Lewinski, head of U.S. Events for Smithers Pira, celebrate their new partnership creating a joint event.

The 2014 Sustainability in Packaging conference opened with a bang Mar. 5 in Orlando, FL. John Lewinski, head of U.S. Events for Smithers Pira, announced a partnership with GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) to create one leading event “in one place, at one time.”

Starting in 2015, the annual amalgamated event will include SPC Industry Leadership Committee meetings, site tours, an exhibition hall, conference, workshops and special receptions.

Within mere minutes of the news, I happily tweeted, “Breaking news from #SustPack14 – partnering w/SPC for game-changing event in 2015.”

See, Smithers Pira produces the Sustainability in Packaging event in association with Packaging Digest. And SPC writes a monthly column for us as well. So I’ve had the pleasure of working with both organizations for several years and can attest to their professionalism and their passion in sustainability.

In my opinion, no one is more qualified to help the packaging industry advance its sustainable progression than these two leaders.

During the announcement, Nina Goodrich, executive director of GreenBlue and director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, remarked, “SPC was founded in 2004 to facilitate industry collaboration. So this partnership will allow us to work together to really focus on the business of sustainability. From my own perspective, we’ve done the easy stuff. We’ve taken care of the low-hanging fruit in sustainability. Now it’s time to really get down to business and help each other as an industry build the business case for sustainability and embed it into our organizations. We really feel that, through this partnership, we’ll have the reach and scope to be able to start making some real significant progress. I’m delighted and looking forward to 2015.”

Me, too! On behalf of Packaging Digest, I applaud the partnership and welcome SPC and its members to what is sure to be the must-attend, thought-leadership event in sustainable packaging.

Read the press release here.

Micro-pancakery shakes up breakfast category with innovative packaging

Micro-pancakery shakes up breakfast category with innovative packaging

Hand-drawn illustrations and a new economical pouch articulate the gourmet pancake paradise of Boulder-based Birch Benders.

What started out as food for thought developed into a hassle-free pancake for Birch Benders Micro-Pancakery co-founder and CEO Matt LaCasse. Fascinated by the idea of cracking an egg over a griddle and magically getting a gourmet pancake (rather than a fried egg), LaCasse set to work. This very idea became the brainchild for his innovative approach to America’s much-loved breakfast tradition. As a result, the world’s first natural and organic, just-add-water pancake & waffle mix was born.

Instead of having to make the decision between food that is nutritious and food that is convenient, consumers can finally have it all with this natural and organic brand. The company’s flagship product comes in an elegant jar and preparation is as easy as 1-2-3. All that is required is adding water to the fill line on the jar, shaking, and pouring the batter onto a hot griddle or waffle iron. This eliminates the extra steps involved with going to a grocery store to get eggs or milk—and also the mess of cleaning up. No more dirty bowls and washing dishes. Current available package formats include pouch, large jar, small jar and bulk.

In the beginning
Back in 2011, when LaCasse co-founded Birch Benders with fellow pancake enthusiast Naomi Honig, the two saw a connection between the lighthearted and timeless tradition of birch bending—forever immortalized by American poet Robert Frost in his famous poem “Birches”—and the merriment of pancake making. The underlying theme in Frost’s poem draws upon imagination, escape and transcendence—all concepts that Birch Benders wanted its product line to embody.

“It all goes back to our mission statement,” says LaCasse. “We believe that some of the best moments in life are spent around the table with the ones you love. We’re very family-oriented people, and in these crazy, busy, over-scheduled days, we want to do our part to bring people back together. Our goal at Birch Benders is to make the world a more beautiful and delicious place…one pancake at a time.”

The duo hit the ground running and created seven restaurant-quality flavors for consumers to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. Shortly after, Lizzi Ackerman came onboard as COO and helped the team forge ahead into the marketplace.

When the summer of 2012 rolled in, the company was selling its products through independent and specialty retailers, as well as online through its website (www.BuyPancakes.com). In the months to follow, Whole Foods locations in Colorado and Utah signed up to sell the product line. The company is expected to expand to regional Whole Foods in the coming year. Birch Benders also sells to gourmet gift box companies and luxury hotels and residences, such as The Broadmoor (a five-star resort in Colorado Springs).

The company’s jars are also featured as a welcoming gift in the national residences of Inspirato with American Express, a private club for luxury travelers with a $450 million collection of Signature Residences. Moreover, the Ritz-Carlton Club in Vail recently added Birch Benders jars to its new amenities program, allowing guests to prepare and enjoy gourmet pancakes without ever having to leave their suites.

Spurred on by such a successful launch, Birch Benders wanted to stretch their brand’s legs. After countless conversations with customers and hundreds of product demonstrations, Birch Benders came to realize what worked...and what needed work with their products and branding. The team decided to take the brand to the next level after developing a thorough understanding of what they envisioned for the future.

Birch Benders reimagined
“What we realized in looking at our category is that no one’s really pushing the envelope when it comes to pancakes and waffles,” says Ackerman. “We wanted to reinvigorate the category, to elevate the pancake experience. We call ourselves a micro-pancakery—in part, because we were really inspired by American microbreweries and the incredible amount of creativity and artistry that goes into their consistently top-notch branding. We wanted to bring that same level of artistry to the pancake and waffle industry, and to craft our products with the love, care, and attention to detail that’s become the standard among microbreweries.” 

To do that, Birch Benders partnered with award-winning design and advertising agency Moxie Sozo. Over the course of nine months, Birch Benders worked closely with the Moxie team to not only reimagine their brand, but also reimagine and rewrite the standards for branding in the pancake/waffle mix category. The new jars just hit the shelves and have been very well received.

So, what’s the end result? A brand new illustration for the world of Birch Benders. For starters, Classic Recipe draws the consumer into an autumn birch forest, where friendly bears are pouring maple syrup onto a delicious stack of pancakes. Chocolate Chip sets the scene against the rolling hills and snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps, where jubilant chocolatiers are drizzling syrup over a heaping helping of chocolate chip pancakes. Banana Buckwheat depicts a sunny, warm Ecuadorian jungle where squirrel monkeys garnish pancakes with freshly chopped bananas. According to Birch Benders, every flavor has its own setting, its own identity, which the new branding helps bring to life.

To coincide with the relaunch of the jars, Birch Benders introduced 24-oz resealable pouches in four of their top-selling flavors: Classic Recipe, Gluten Free, Six Grain Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip. “The pouch was a strategic decision we came to after considering our growth and expansion into national and international markets,“ says Ackerman. “We realized that in order to reach these markets, we would need a mass-market-ready product—one that would deliver the same premium branding and quality mix, but at a lower price. We knew that we’d be able to achieve this with a well designed pouch.”

The Birch Benders team ultimately pursued a pouch design never before seen in their category: a five-sided, flat-bottom, resealable stand-up pouch or “box” pouch. To help them bring this concept to life, Birch Benders chose to work with one of the most respected and innovative companies in the flexible packaging industry, Innovative Packaging Solutions, Inc. (IPS).

“We wanted our pouches to be striking and one-of-a-kind, like our jars, so we approached IPS based on their reputation for high quality and innovation,” Ackerman explains. “They were also able to help us find the best solution for meeting our pricing requirements. We needed the pouches to be exquisite, but also economical enough to sell at a competitive price point. We’re thrilled with the results we achieved from working with the amazing team at IPS.”

“The beauty of the five-sided pouch,” says LaCasse, “is that it allows us to have maximum brand impact without the additional costs. It’s an efficient design that keeps the primary focus right where it should be - on the deliciously playful, hand-drawn illustrations. The result is a gorgeous product at a competitive price.”

“IPS was the clear choice to fulfill our vision because they care as much as we do about the quality of our packaging,” adds Ackerman. “They were so helpful and hands-on every step of the way – from refining the shape, to choosing the right materials, to perfecting the production process, to making sure the colors popped!”

Birch Benders Micro-Pancakery’s new pouches officially launch at Natural Products Expo West, March 2014, in Anaheim, CA.

Industry leaders co-brand yogurt pouches

Industry leaders co-brand yogurt pouches

The world’s leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield, has partnered up with Happy Family – the brand to first launch pouch packaging in the baby food industry in lieu of glass jars. The two companies made this joint announcement at Expo West where they debuted their full line of convenient pouches.

"Stonyfield and Happy Family share the core belief that organic food made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides and GMOs is the very best for little ones. It's truly exciting to work together to offer the very best in infant and toddler nutrition that also makes life a little easier for parents," says Gary Hirshberg, chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic.

"Stonyfield & Happy Family yogurt pouches offer a convenient and portable option for busy families looking for delicious fruit and vegetable combinations their kids love and that also deliver the organic promise parents trust," continues Shazi Visram, founder, CEO/ chief mom of Happy Family. "We're thrilled to be able to offer parents even more options for healthy products made with optimum nutrition."

"Yogurt is a perfect, nutrient-dense food that can grow with your baby from a first food to a healthy lunchbox snack. I always recommend choosing an organic option and Stonyfield's YoBaby, YoTot and YoKids yogurt pouches are wonderful sources of protein, balanced fats, carbohydrates, and minerals to aid growth and development," explains Dr. Bill Sears, one of America's most trusted pediatricians.

The yogurt pouches are sold separately as well as in four packs. The suggested retail price is $1.49 and $4.99. The re-sealable package can be unrefrigerated for up to four hours. Consumers can expect to see The Stonyfield & Happy Family yogurt pouch line in their dairy cases starting in July. The full lineup includes:

  • YoBaby Yogurt Pouches: A perfect first food for babies 6 months+, YoBaby Yogurt Pouches feature whole milk yogurt enhanced with fish oil-sourced DHA and EPA, omega-3 fatty acids associated with brain development. YoBaby comes in 3.4-oz. pouches in four varieties: Blueberry, Mango, Sweet Potato and Vanilla. Each pouch contains 100 calories and 3g of fat.
  • YoTot Yogurt Pouches: These pouches have a similar formulation to YoBaby and come in slightly larger 3.7-oz. pouches. The flavors, Pear Spinach Mango and Strawberry Beet Raspberry, are designed to introduce little ones to new foods and flavors. Each pouch contains 110-120 calories, depending on variety, and 3.5g of fat.
  • YoKids Yogurt Pouches: Featuring low-fat yogurt, these pouches will appeal to older kids in three simple varieties: Blueberry, Strawberry and Strawberry Banana. Each 3.7-oz. pouch contains 110 calories and 2g of fat.

Source: Stonyfield

Cam-operated reseal for beverage containers

Cam-operated reseal for beverage containers

Over the years, there have been a number of variations on a theme of resealability for beverage containers, most of which center on a twist-off feature of some sort. At one time the now-ubiquitous “sports cap” remade the face—or literally the top—of beverages through the added-value convenience of resealability.

Brand owners’ response to consumers’ thirst for resealable beverage containers continues unabated. For example, just last month Bud Light unveiled the “Cool Twist” reclosable aluminum bottle based on patented technology from Alcoa.


Now a patent assigned to Powercan Holding LLC, Pompano Beach, FL, offers a different take on beverage can resealability. And, unlike many patent filings, this one is so unique that it doesn’t reference prior patents.

Published in mid-February, this patent has as a preferred embodiment an aluminum beverage can provided with a cap that is twisted by the consumer to open. The twist or rotational movement of the cap is converted into linear motion by a cam mechanism to drive the cap open. Once the can is opened, the cap can be reverse-twisted to remove it from the opening, and then after drinking, the consumer can twist the cap back into a sealing position within the opening. Optionally, the cap can be discarded if the entire contents of the can are consumed.

Given the concern for product safety regarding choking hazards, it’s not clear to me how this is addressed, if at all, in the filing.  This is interesting because the introductory background section references the old removable "pull tabs," noting that they could present a safety issue “in that the tabs could be swallowed by small children.” It’s possible I’m overlooking something here.

The cap is preferably made of plastic material of sufficient hardness that the cam surfaces do not deform during opening and closing operations.

Option for other features

The cap can be designed to be sold separately from the beverage container, and re-used after washing. Also, caps with different features may be provided, such as a cap with a child's sip-cup top for toddlers.

The invention claims to meet a need for improved beverage containers that are resealable, cost effective to produce and "green" in terms of facilitating the recycling of aluminum cans. In addition to carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, applicable product categories include foodstuffs and non-edible products.

Driven by  consumer convenience and branding, we can anticipate more options and applications for resealability/reclosability for beverages and numerous other packaged products will continue to be, if you’ll pardon the expression, unstoppable.

Source: Fresh Patents


Peeling the (packaging) onion to reveal layers of savings

Expectations are rising for Procurement to drive continuous cost reductions in packaging. As a result, the ability to identify and prioritize multiple layers of potential cost-savings opportunity, while at the same time supporting innovation and sustainability goals, is more necessary than ever. 

How do leading companies tackle this challenge? By peeling back the complex layers of the packaging onion to identify opportunities in a variety of areas. In our experience, best-in-class examples of this approach leverage in-depth cost modeling and understanding of supplier cost structures. Here's a window into some of the key strategies we help clients use:

Prioritize opportunities using key criteria. To prioritize savings opportunities, strategic organizations should examine them through the lens of benefits vs difficulty to implement:

• What is the cost reduction potential? (such as, how much cost savings could a 10 percent reduction in material usage generate?) 

• Which low hanging fruit has already been harvested? 

• How difficult would it be to realize these potential savings? Consider potential barriers like portfolio

fragmentation, customer change requirements and resource constraints.

• What are the implementation costs?

Break packaging spend into discrete categories. With a robust cost model, companies can separate spend into meaningful cost buckets that can then be impacted by specific material and sourcing strategies. At a minimum, focus on understanding the cost drivers in these five discrete areas: raw materials; make-ready/setup costs; conversion costs; packaging and delivery; and supplier margin.

Develop a customized approach tailored to each cost category. In developing a strategy for each major cost area, be aware of these key considerations: 

1. Raw materials: Strategies vary based on the level of raw materials in a specific packaging component. For example, high raw material items, such as commodity corrugate boxes or clear films, benefit most from usage reduction efforts like light-weighting or packaging footprint reduction. 

Hosting supplier challenges is one efficient way to harness the accrued knowledge of your supply base to generate cost reduction and material and packaging format innovation ideas. Larger buyers may explore Tier II sourcing for certain supplier raw materials as their buying leverage may exceed that of Tier I suppliers, particularly for customer-specific products.

2. Make-ready and setup costs: High setup cost is a common issue for complex and fragmented portfolios. Low run sizes are typically driven by market requirements, so simply increasing production quantities to drive efficiencies is rarely feasible. Consider strategic alternatives: 

• Seek alternate ways to purchase your products: such as, explore options to increase supplier

efficiencies through Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) or combination run programs.

• Explore alternate make-ready friendly technologies such as digital vs flexographic printing, on-demand corrugate production, labeling vs pre-printing.

• Seek internal opportunities to standardize design like common packaging footprints and standardization of artwork.

3. Conversion costs: Conversion costs are typically supplier-driven, so it's important to ensure that your suppliers are keeping up with industry equipment and technology innovations. You should also examine whether the special requirements you impose on suppliers are increasing complexity of production, supplier production waste or slowing down supplier production equipment. 

4. Packaging and delivery: Beyond protecting product from damage in transit, packaging and delivery creates little end-user value. This is a great area for collaboration with suppliers to optimize packaging with transportation and logistics costs in mind.

5. Supplier margin: Efficient cost models should also account for supplier margin. Benchmarking against peers and industry averages should provide insight into whether the prices you are paying suppliers are competitive. This requires both supply market intelligence, but also should-cost modeling capabilities. This is a challenge for most internal organizations to obtain, but tapping the right expertise can inform and strengthen packaging sourcing and negotiation strategies-and help buyers maintain competitive costs over time.

Engaging in a "what is your target ROI/ROA/gross margin?" dialogue requires both a strategic approach and a high level of trust between parties. When executed correctly, this dialogue provides a common platform for you and your strategic suppliers to develop and enhance the business relationship, explore innovation opportunities and collaboratively drive cost-out initiatives. 

Last Step. Execute! After applying this strategic framework, it's time to execute against the highest-potential opportunities. Most cost improvement strategies require cross-functional collaboration between key stakeholders within the buyer, seller and sometimes end-customer organizations. Mapping key stakeholders and decision makers greatly accelerates the process, helps promote buy-in and increases the likelihood you will be able to realize the savings opportunities you identify as part of this strategic process. 


Author Vladimir Ryabovol is the flexible packaging sourcing lead at Procurian (www.procurian.com), the leading specialist in comprehensive procurement solutions. The company's built-out Specialized Procurement Infrastructure integrates with businesses to optimize spending and deliver real savings that equal a margin point or more.