Digital printing personalization coming to Tetra Pak packaging

Digital printing personalization coming to Tetra Pak packaging
Digital printing can dramatically increase consumer engagement in the drinkable cartons market.

Investment taps the personalization power of digital on-package printing to offer custom new design possibilities for brands that’s a first for food and beverage cartons.

 Personalization through digital printing and other nimble customization technologies has drawn the attention of one of the world’s major packaging suppliers: Tetra Pak,which plans to be the first food and beverage carton supplier to offer full-color digital printing by collaborating with Koenig & Bauer, a leader in this market.

The digital printing technology will simplify the complexity of design handling, reducing design-to-print time and open up new opportunities in order placement flexibility and customization. Brands can take advantage of added benefits like dynamic on-package printing and the ability to include a variety of designs within the same order.

The full-width digital printer being built by Koenig & Bauer and will be installed at Tetra Pak’s converting plant at Denton, TX. Field testing for North American customers of the new, digitally-printed carton packages is expected to begin in early 2020.

Charles Brand, executive vice president, product management & commercial operations at Tetra Pak says, “we are committed to helping our customers explore new avenues with a truly ‘smart’ package, supporting their need for product customization, smaller batch sizes, greater traceability and the ability to interact with the consumer. Our investment in this digital printer demonstrates our commitment to support customers with future-proof technologies as the digital revolution transforms the way we all do business.”

Says Christoph Müller, board member of Koenig & Bauer, “we are absolutely delighted that Tetra Pak has decided in favor of our digital printer. I am sure that, together, we will significantly change the market for the benefit of Tetra Pak customers.”

Adapting to a changing market

“Brands continue to look for opportunities to deliver greater customization and personalization of their products,” adds Carmen Becker, president and CEO of Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada. “We’re thrilled to offer our customers new and innovative ways to engage with consumers, all while increasing flexibility in the design and order process.”

The commitment to the technology grew out of changing consumer desires, Pedro Gonçalves, vp marketing United States and Canada, Tetra Pak, tells Packaging Digest.

“The market for food and beverage is evolving with many innovations and diversification of product being released constantly with a focus on health, sustainability, convenience and more,” he explains. “To attend to this new consumer, consumer packaged goods companies have to deliver personalized and connected experiences—in this sense, the flexibility and personalization ability from digital printing is an unmatched technology offering infinite possibilities of design and connectivity. Offering this breakthrough to our customers connects with our commitment in helping brands to be profitable, sustainable and to address consumer needs.”

Rendering of Tetra Pak's forthcoming digital printing system at Denton, TX, facility.

And while digital printing will also enable small orders that can give innovative companies the possibility to explore new segments of the consumer spectrum, it also represents an improvement in print quality.

“The printing quality of the method we use today has achieved a great level of quality delivering appealing design with a high productivity, but we foresee more color fidelity with digital printer as it works with a CMYK color system,” Gonçalves says.

The technology will be used for all current and future package formats delivered to Denton that can be run on the digital printer. “The list of packages is in constant review to make sure we will attend the market’s needs,” Gonçalves adds.

Traceability that was referenced is enabled by leveraging the technology to print Quick Response codes.

“Today we offer 2D Data Matrix codes, but the digital system will enable printing of high-definition QR codes that can be integrated with applications or a website,” Gonçalves points out. “The  information associated with the QR codes can be changed quickly, bringing dynamic content to campaigns and management data.”


There’s a world of packaging options awaiting at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019, where you can find innovative ideas in containers and design, check the latest machinery and automation solutions and attend free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________

New container protects bulk frozen biopharmaceuticals

New container protects bulk frozen biopharmaceuticals
An engineered pouch design using a proprietary biocompatible fluoropolymer composite film helps protect frozen biopharmaceuticals and vaccines packed in bulk.

Two growing trends in pharmaceuticals prompted the development of a new high-performance pouch that addresses the mechanical and purity challenges of packaging a liquid biologic or vaccine that requires low temperatures. The Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Container maintains package integrity after freezing at ‑86 deg C. (‑123 deg F) and minimizes product loss due to package failure due to its durable design.

The company promotes the sterile pouch as able to withstand temperatures like those found “at the equator of Mars,” “at the South Pole” or “at the top of Mt. Everest.” That got my attention.

How is this possible? Five years in development, the Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Container is made of a proprietary biocompatible fluoropolymer composite film with an extremely low extractables profile. Additionally, the pouch itself is specially designed for extra strength.

Why is there a need for this when biopharmaceuticals are not currently shipped to Mars, the South Pole or Mt. Everest? Two reasons:

The first is the growing trend of biologic drugs, which by nature require cold-chain handling to maintain stability and efficacy. According to the 2018 Frost & Sullivan report Market Insight on Cold Chain Handling of Biologic Drug Substances, 49% of all the new drug and vaccine approvals issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 were temperature-sensitive products. And total global revenues of cold-chain pharma products in 2017 was greater than $280 billion (with a “b”)—and has grown at twice the rate of the total pharma market. Frost & Sullivan predicts there will be more than 400 new drugs and vaccines that will require cold-storage handling by 2024.

The second reason is the market trend to centralized production of active ingredients, which often means shipping them in bulk to a separate location for manufacturing the final drug. On the legislative agenda for many countries, making drugs locally offers several benefits beyond safety. It can often speed up distribution for critical meds (like vaccines), allow for the smaller batch sizes indicative of final drug production versus bulk active ingredients and improve a product’s economics. It might also give pharmaceutical companies the option of working with local contract manufacturers/packagers.

These two trends mean there is a strong demand for packaging that can store and securely transport frozen biopharmaceuticals and vaccines.

But polymer-based packaging faces challenges in low-temperature environments, such as becoming brittle and breaking—creating costly damage and product losses. But trying to solve that by adding layer after layer of packaging is costly and inefficient.

Also, typical additives used during plastic packaging manufacturing could affect material purity and leach into the product.

Joe Cintavey, product manager and specialist for the flexible freeze containers, explains more about how the Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Container addresses these challenges.

Is this Gore’s first product for frozen bulk drugs?

Cintavey: Yes, this is Gore’s first product for frozen bulk drug substance, although the company has a portfolio of products in the biopharmaceutical space, including high resilience tubing, lyophilization trays, and chromatography columns and syringe plungers that eliminate the need for silicone as a lubricant.

Do you have any numbers on the typical amount of frozen bulk product loss annually due to packaging damage or lack of integrity?

Cintavey: When we developed this product, we worked closely with biopharmaceutical manufacturers to understand the challenges they had with bag breakage during cold chain handling. Based on what they tell us, we estimate that the loss due to packaging damage or integrity issues is between 3% and 5% of containers, across the typical size bags (from 1 to 20 liters).

How much product damage do you anticipate Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Containers can prevent? Can you put a dollar value or percentage savings on that?

Cintavey: It is difficult to estimate a dollar value because the value of drug products varies so widely by customer, and each customer measures it differently. For instance, a single container of frozen bulk drug substance could range in value from $10,000 to $500,000. The value of using the Gore Container is in reducing the risk of losing product during handling or transport. Each customer does their own in-depth cost/risk analysis, but according to their information, it’s estimated that between 3% and 5% of packages are lost or damaged.

Do you have any patents pending or issued on the material, the package or the manufacturing process?

Cintavey: Gore’s expertise is in our ability to manipulate fluoropolymers like polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the base material of the container, and engineer it to have particular qualities, depending on what’s required for the application.

In this case, we’ve developed a proprietary, high-strength, high-purity composite fluoropolymer material and engineered it into a patented container design to make a package that remains strong and durable at cold temperatures.

For more general information on PTFE, see

What, if anything, is different or unique about how this bulk container is manufactured?

Cintavey: Traditional polymer-based materials used for bulk drug storage are proven to have problems with breakage at cold temperatures. We’ve heard this over and over from our customers. The Gore Container is unique because it combines a durable fluoropolymer composite and an innovative, patented container design to protect bulk drug product.

How does the bag design increase package robustness?

Cintavey: The issue with polymer-based packaging at frozen temperatures is a loss of mechanical integrity, whereby materials can become brittle at frozen temperatures, and it results in container breakage and leakage. This PTFE composite material is very durable at cold temperatures, and in combination with the patented container design, we’ve developed a more robust package.

How much does this container cost? How does that compare to alternatives?

Cintavey: Gore designs products that do what we say they will do, every time. That’s the promise we make to our customers. We know that Gore is not the lowest-cost alternative in this space, but we consider the Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Container a high-value, high-performing product, and we have been told by our customers that they consider the end-to-end value of the investment they are making in risk reduction worthwhile.

Why is it necessary to do 100% integrity testing and visual inspection of the containers during/after manufacturing instead of sampling for quality assurance?

Cintavey: Gore’s mindset around “Fitness-for-Use” provides excellent perspective on this question. Fitness-for-Use means that Gore’s products will do what we say they will do, every time. Thus, the company often develops tests that go beyond industry standards, because its own internal promise is so stringent. So in-depth application testing during development and 100% integrity testing and visual inspection is a strategy that Gore has chosen to ensure the very best product for our customers.

What existing testing protocols did you use?

Cintavey: If an external test existed and was aligned to how the product might be used in cold chain handling, we tried to use it. For example, we performed ISTA 3E distribution testing to simulate frozen container shipping. That was an exception though—we had to develop a lot of our own internal protocols because existing test protocols did not simulate the actual handling of a filled, frozen bag product.

For instance, test standards exist for frozen material strength alone but for a frozen, filled container as it would be handled, or likely mishandled, in use. This goes back to our Fitness-for-Use principle and ensuring that the product will do what we say it will do, every time.

A filled pouch enters the freezer. The robust container design was tested to withstand up to five freeze/thaw cycles.

How many freeze/thaw cycles can the package withstand and why is that important? Your website says it was tested up to five cycles. Is that typical for these drugs?

Cintavey: Every end-user has their own test protocols. In working with manufacturers, we found that these bags were typically used once or twice at most. To ensure durability, we added a safety factor and tested out to five cycles.

Do you have any customers yet?

Cintavey: We think it is progressing well, as several top biopharmaceutical manufacturers are testing this product. The time it takes for each company to evaluate the bag with their drug varies and the Gore Container was only introduced in late 2018.

What existing testing protocols will customers use?

Cintavey: Each end-user has their own evaluation protocols. We’ve tried to align our product testing with handling protocols common in the industry, where they existed. We have an extensive validation guide that also includes many of our internal protocols, including drop and impact testing, freeze/thaw profiles, and integrity and distribution testing, that we think customers will find useful during their evaluations.

What are the challenges of testing and how are these overcome?

Cintavey: For this product, the challenge for end-users is that there are no standard tests to evaluate how filled, frozen containers will perform during cold chain handling. This makes it difficult to compare products like the Gore Container against other products, other than by actually dropping bags and seeing if they break.

The packages are supplied as Freeze Container Assemblies inside two Tyvek pouches, and are ethylene oxide (EO) sterilized. How does this presentation change the typical handling and filling process for pharmaceutical companies packaging active ingredients?

Cintavey: Our Container Assemblies are pre-sterilized and packaged according to industry standards for similar products. The packaging system was evaluated per ISO 11607 Part 1 and is described in detail in the product validation guide.

Is there anything different, unusual or unique about the package design that improves product dispensing/handling during manufacture of the final drug?

Cintavey: No. The Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Container Assembly has standard-size tubing and fittings for easy integration into end-user filling, freezing and handling processes. Optional hard-shell carriers are available for easier handling and are designed to maximize space in both blast and plate freezers. The container comes in three standard sizes, with additional sizes and tubing and connector configurations being developed.

Do you have results on your extractables study yet? If so, what are they? If not, when will this data be available?

Cintavey: We conducted an internal evaluation and found that the Gore Container has an extremely low extractables profile, as expected.  We’ve also completed a BPOG analysis and have the summary report available for end users upon request.

[Note: The BioPhorum Operations Group (BPOG) is a collection of approximately 50 companies encompassing 80% of the global commercial biopharmaceutical capacity. Collectively they’ve published “Best Practices Guide for Evaluating Leachables Risk from Polymeric Single-Use Systems Used in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing” and “Standardized Extractables Testing Protocol for Single-Use Systems in Biomanufacturing.” These documents are gaining traction across the pharmaceutical and medical device industries as a “one stop shop” for extractables and leachables testing principles but are not yet fully accepted by FDA].

What are the numbers for leachables?

Cintavey: Leachables data can only be collected on the actual drug product so leachables testing is something our customers do themselves. Gore does not typically use actual drug product for testing. Instead, to provide benchmark information, Gore performs extractables testing with fluid solutions commonly accepted by the pharmaceutical industry.

Where are Gore Sta-Pure Flexible Freeze Containers made?

Cintavey: They are manufactured in the U.S. in Elkton, MD, at our dedicated manufacturing facility that is certified to ISO 13485 and ISO 15378. All manufacturing, assembly, inspection and packaging of the assemblies is conducted in a controlled environment, which is maintained to ISO Class 7 requirements.


EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Integrated coding system controller eliminates ‘screen confusion’

Integrated coding system controller eliminates ‘screen confusion’
Compact, the MPERIA OEM Controller fits easily within other packaging machines so users can control the coding operation via the main machine's HMI.

Designed specifically to integrate easily into other packaging machines—such as fillers and labelers—the new MPERIA OEM universal coding controller eliminates “screen confusion” by letting users control the coding operation from within the main packaging machine’s human/machine interface (HMI).

From Matthews Marking, the MPERIA OEM Controller follows the trend toward control simplification by giving packaging machinery manufacturers a small-footprint option to incorporate a coding controller into their machine. It’s able to accommodate multiple coding technologies—and from virtually any coding equipment maker—to satisfy the coding needs of customers in a variety of markets, including food, beverage, pharmaceutical, personal care and medical.

Because the compact MPERIA universal controller works with any print technology, OEMs can easily change coding systems, per their customers’ needs. Users can specify drop-on-demand (DOD) inkjet, thermal inkjet and even laser.

This OEM system communicates using either XML or Command line protocol over Ethernet or RS232 and can connect with the MPERIA V-Link OEM, which is about half the size of the company’s standard V-Link so it can fit into tight spaces inside packaging machines. The V-Link OEM is a driver module for Matthews DOD 8000+ valve jet printheads—available with 7, 16 or 32 valves to print characters from as small as 2/23-inch to as large as 5 inches high.

The OEM controller also connects with the MPERIA L-Link, a driver module for up to four L-Series L1 thermal inkjet printheads. For applications that require a high-quality print, this high-resolution cartridge-based coder prints 600 dots per inch at speeds of 1,600 feet per minute.

Three versions of the MPERIA OEM Controller—OEM Lite, OEM Standard and OEM Advanced—balance physical size with available features. For example, the OEM Lite is the smallest size but controls a single device on a single production line. The OEM Standard and OEM Advanced units are larger but can control multiple devices (almost unlimited) on multiple lines.


EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

3 sizzling design trends in food and beverage packaging

3 sizzling design trends in food and beverage packaging
Let the packaging design tell your story simply, immediately and with impact. This energy-drink design was done for Quiktrip, a prominent player in the convenience store market.

Your product’s story will have to be told simply and immediately through the packaging design to connect with today’s mobile-savvy consumer.

One of Packaging Digest’s “evergreen” features that continues to collect solid interest again in May as it has done monthly since it was posted last April was our interview with Justin Johnson, principal of More Branding, a design agency. That article centered on the firm’s design work for Delici, a high-end dessert in premium packaging sold exclusively at Costco.

Having learned recently that Johnson’s company spun-off a standalone design website devoted to design for food and beverage packaging, Shelf, we felt it was timely to tap his design expertise once again, but this time through a wide-angle view of emerging design drivers in this market.

What trends are you seeing in design specific to food and beverages?

Johnson: Trends are often thought of as changing design aesthetics, however, we feel trends are always a reflection of the consumer and culture. If we look at our culture, we have people that are always on the move, life’s busy and fast and our attention spans are compressing. In order to connect with today’s consumer you have to be able to tell your story simply and immediately.

In the old days, we used to talk about having an elevator pitch to tell someone why they should buy your product. An elevator pitch was considered short 15 years ago. Today, it’s more like the time from when you push the elevator button until the doors close. You have about 3-5 seconds max to convince a consumer to buy your product in the supermarket. Simple always wins.

The second macro trend also relates to the consumer’s busy lifestyle: Mobility. Mobility isn’t just about technology. Consumers desire products that can travel with them. Packaging that is purchased in smaller containers. Flexible packaging that can be thrown in a bag or purse and easily consumed without kitchen utensils. Think about the lifestyle of 25-55 year olds. They are commuting, traveling, attending their kids’ activities, or hitting their Soul Cycle class. Our culture is no longer built around the mom at home with continuous access to the pantry and fridge. Brands need to live beyond the pantry.

One well publicized example of this mobility is Chobani’s new drinkable smooth yogurt beverage. You can grab it at a convenience store and have your yogurt on the go without a spoon.

The third macro trend we are seeing at Shelf is designing not only for the supermarket shopper, but asking how does the brand experience translate to the consumer that purchases online? Packaging’s role in this ecommerce scenario is still to connect, but could provide a deeper experience.

An analogy might be something like this: Shopping in a supermarket is like speed dating, it’s quick and shallow with lots of choices, but once you find someone to ask out for dinner you can have deeper more meaningful conversations and really strengthen that bond/relationship. Getting the product at home is more like going straight to the one-on-one relationship.

To boil down these macro trends: Simplicity. Mobility. Online Consumer.

Next: What’s the biggest challenge in the food & beverage market?


For ideas for packaging design and other options for food, beverages and other products, consider attending EastPack, which is part of a 6-in-1 event, New York City Advanced Design & Manufacturing, June 13-15. For more information, visit


The company created vibrant branding for a contemporary chocolate startup that pairs chocolate with music.

What’s the biggest challenge in the food & beverage market?

Johnson: We think the biggest challenge for brands doesn’t just relate to the food and beverage market. At Shelf, we use a phrase daily, “It’s not about competing, it’s about connecting.” This is tough because we love competing and competition is a big driver, but to win, you can’t focus on what everyone else is doing. When your eyes are on the competition you aren’t engaging with your customer. Today’s consumer is smart, fast and less loyal than ever before. If you lose that connection, even briefly, it can set you back significantly. Do more listening. Make it a priority to listen, observe and spend time doing life with your customer base. If you have a strong connection with your demographic you don’t have to worry about the competition nearly as much.

The biggest challenge for packaging design in today’s business climate is speed. You have to be fast, nimble and flexible. The market changes so rapidly, brands are extending their core product line into new and innovative form factors and clients expect more with less time to deliver. We have spent a significant amount of time on our internal processes to meet the requirements necessary to deliver for our clients. Just like consumer brands need to listen and understand today’s buyer we have the same responsibility to listen and understand the needs of today’s brand managers and marketing directors. We are always looking for the edge to provide better service and better design. This was really the catalyst that led to spinning out Shelf from our parent company More Branding.

Why the spinoff now?

Johnson: We weren’t telling our story in a clear way. If you went to our main site you might see a chocolate mousse dessert next to a drilling rig or a sweaty construction worker. It just didn’t feel right—it confuses the customer and doesn’t properly showcase the success and gains we have been generating for our food and beverage clientele.

Some of our biggest successes have been our design and consulting work for our consumer good clients. We have had multiple clients obtain 1,000% sales increases in the first 12 months after engaging with us. We did it once and thought it was an exceptional example like those workout videos you see with the fine type at the bottom—“results not typical”-but then we did it again and again with different clients. We started to see that we had something unique and special happening. It only made sense to evolve and focus on our strength and abilities in this category.

What can you say about the role of packaging in Delici’s success?  

Johnson: Delici has been one of our biggest successes. If you remember they went from a single Costco test market to being in all U.S. Costco markets. Delici is now in 23 countries and just landed in Australia. We have an exciting new flavor coming out this spring/summer and new form factors that still allow our customers to reuse the packaging after consuming the product. The Delici leadership team are innovators and you will continue to hear more about this company. They are truly a dream client and we hope to find other companies that share their ability to innovate and value the design process.

For more information, visit the Shelf website.


For ideas for packaging design and other options for food, beverages and other products, consider attending EastPack, which is part of a 6-in-1 event, New York City Advanced Design & Manufacturing, June 13-15. For more information, visit


Green Giant creates new twist on microwavable packaging

Green Giant creates new twist on microwavable packaging
Green Giant’s microwavable, single-serve PrimaPak packaging is a first in the frozen foods category.

Brand owner B&G Foods and vendor Sonoco expound on the breakthrough packaging for Green Giant Veggie Spirals, an all-in-one PrimaPak bowl/bag/carton/tray packaged on f/f/s machinery.

As a new kind of food product in a new kind of packaging, Green Giant Veggie Spirals from B&G Foods, Inc., Parsippany, NJ, takes a big stride in packaged convenience.

The frozen foods are made of 100% vegetables without sauces or seasonings, and each variety is gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, low calorie and offers from 65-90% fewer carbohydrates than traditional pasta. The products will be available in zucchini, carrots and butternut squash varieties when introduced in early 2018.

Notably, the Spirals are packed in a first-of-a-kind microwavable PrimaPak that’s a custom twist on the patented PrimaPak packaging that just debuted earlier this year for Perfetti Mentos flavored mints. However, the 12-oz package requirements for this application, the first for a frozen food, were far more challenging.

The versatile PrimaPak technology, produced by a joint venture that included Sonoco Flexible Packaging, is a kind of all-in-one, semi-rigid rectangular packaging that acts as a bowl while replacing a bag and or a carton traditionally used for microwavable packaging found across different products and categories in the frozen foods aisle. It is a convenient-for-consumers heat-and-serve format that does not require additional dishes and is resealable. The PrimaPak is produced on modified form/fill/seal machinery.

Jordan Greenberg, vp of Green Giant, and Roman Forowycz, CMO of supplier Sonoco Elk Grove (formerly Clear Lam Packaging, Inc.), part of Sonoco Flexible Packaging, provide answers to Packaging Digest’s questions about the innovative packaging.

Tell us about PrimaPak packaging.

Greenberg: The proprietary PrimaPak packaging is designed to replace older forms of packaging such as bag-in-box, stand-up pouches, pillow bags, chipboard cartons or rigid trays. The patented technology produces a rectangular, flexible, stackable package that provides six crisp panels for maximum graphics coverage. As a leader in the frozen vegetable category, the Green Giant brand selected PrimaPak for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals because of its ground-breaking and patented next generation hybrid form. We believe the single-serve consumer meal innovation provided by the PrimaPak packaging will enhance the Green Giant brand’s leadership position in the frozen category.

What are the key benefits of this format?

Greenberg: PrimaPak packaging is stackable and enhances cube efficiency throughout the supply chain allowing for more packages on a truck, in a warehouse and on the store shelf.

PrimaPak packaging is flexible as it is made from a single roll of flexible film that is a suitable lightweight replacement for preformed cans, bottles, jars and trays.

It’s convenient and can be used as a single-use bowl or a multi-serving dish with an intuitive peel/reseal opening allowing for easy ingredient blending and quick microwave heating.

What are the advantages of having a flexible package that stands upright?

Greenberg: The PrimaPak is designed to stand up on end, providing a perfect and consistent facing every time.  Retailers appreciate the enhanced merchandising capabilities of PrimaPak packaging over bags and pouches that typically fall down and look messy on store shelves.

What’s notable about the Green Giant PrimaPak from your view?

Forowycz: It’s a first-of-its-kind, cubed package designed for steam cooking in the microwave. As such, the Green Giant PrimaPak was a completely custom design developed to handle veggie spirals or noodles and to merchandise much more effectively in retail cases while providing a consumer-friendly opening and reclosing option. Formed as a rectangular to allow it to be more space efficient, the unique shape also allows it to act as a serving dish. Consumers can open and remove the label providing full view of the product and enjoy the benefit of “selectability.”

What’s the film structure?

Forowycz: PrimaPak film structures vary depending on the product being packaged (other examples shown below). Some require higher oxygen barrier, and in those cases ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) may be included. Others may require higher moisture barrier. The Green Giant film structure is a multilayer lamination that also includes a reclosable front panel.

Tells us about the peel-and-reseal, easy opening front panel.

Greenberg: The peel/reseal front panel label functions with an easy-open pull tab that incorporates a tamper-evident feature.  When opened, consumers gain a full view of the product, get easy access to spirals, can add additional ingredients, reseal the label and microwave cook in minutes. The PrimaPak containers for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals have incorporated steam venting on the top panel that is clearly marked for safety reasons.

Please explain the statement that this packaging “uses less plastic compared to traditional trays.” 

Greenberg: PrimaPak containers for our Green Giant Veggie Spirals are made from a single roll of flexible film that are formed on a specially outfitted vertical form/fill/seal packing machine. They serve as a suitable lightweight replacement for preformed cans, bottles, jars and trays, with weight savings of 20%-65%.

Is PrimaPak referenced on the package? 

Greenberg: Yes, consumers are referred to a Sonoco Elk Grove website link for information about the PrimaPak.

How did B&G Foods hear about PrimaPak?

Greenberg: B&G Foods’ co-manufacturing partner, Growers Express, presented the PrimaPak packaging to B&G Foods during the development of Green Giant Veggie Spirals.  Nearly six months’ development and negotiations between Growers Express and Clear Lam Packaging led to this packaging format that’s exclusive to frozen cut vegetables in North America.

Please tell us more about Grower Express’s f/f/s machine.

Forowycz: The PrimaPak equipment is made by licensed vertical f/f/s machine manufacturer Ilapak with a cubing interface from Sonoco Elk Grove. 

What was the biggest packaging-related challenge? 

Greenberg: That was the technical development of complimentary materials and adhesives that would survive a cold and wet packing environment which led directly into a spiral freezer, a sub-zero cold chain that was ultimately microwave cooked reaching content ingredient temperatures that could exceed 165°F.

Forowycz: The microwave temperature range was definitely a challenge. Other challenges included the need for the packaging to fold and seal effectively while keeping its shape to enhance merchandising.


Hungry for fresh ideas in packaging? Attend MinnPack in Minneapolis November 8-9 that’s part of a comprehensive all-in-one 6-event plastics and advanced manufacturing exhibition. For more information, visit MinnPack.


Paper pouch-bowl empowers breakfast portability

Paper pouch-bowl empowers breakfast portability
Novel paper pouch-bowl packaging delivers on-the-go convenience for the Power Breakfast line.

Gluten Free Bar Power Breakfast in an ingenious paper pouch-bowl adds a major boost of convenience for on-the-go hot breakfasting at work and elsewhere.

Gluten Free Bar (GFB), Grand Rapids, MI, has extended its on-the-go healthy snack products into a new meal-time occasion for the brand: a protein-packed breakfast that’s “like oatmeal, but better.” The gluten-free formulation includes oatmeal along with beneficial, flavor-enhancing ingredients such as hemp, flax, fruit, seeds and nuts.

What further separates it from the competition is the proprietary packaging that cleverly marries a standard packet with a paperboard sleeve to deliver a “pouch-bowl” that redefines prepackaged convenience that serves up a hot, healthy breakfast.

The GFB Power Breakfast is available in 5 varieties, Coconut Cashew; Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds; PB+J; Apple Cinnamon; and Maple Raisin, at natural health food stores nationwide with a suggested retail price of $2.49 per 2-ounce package.

"We are stepping outside of the box with this packaging and we think this brings some sorely needed innovation to the oatmeal category," says Elliott Rader, co-founder and partner at GFB. "We wanted to provide our consumers with a healthy breakfast option without compromising on taste or convenience. Power Breakfast is easy to make at the office, at home or out in the wilderness while camping. We like to say Power Breakfast is like oatmeal...but better...better ingredients, better taste, all in a portable and convenient package."

The packaging consists of an inner poly-lined packet glued within a wraparound paperboard sleeve that has a foldable bottom gusset. The consumer bends in the sleeve’s ends to reform the packaging as a boxy-shaped bowl. The sleeve has special scores and die cuts plus a bottom panel that unfolds as a platform to support the inner pouch.

GFB’s cofounding partners Elliott and brother Marshall Rader address Packaging Digest’s questions.

Was the GFB Power Breakfast and packaging developed in concert with the recent introduction of Grab-and-Go-Bites?

GFB: The launch of Power Breakfast is separate from the introduction of our Gluten-Free Bites, but the goal remains the same: create fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks that people will look forward to eating!

For Power Breakfast, it is typically sold individually as single pouches. They do come in a 6-pouch carton with a tear-away top that is intended to be used to display them on shelf.

Is forward-thinking packaging part of the company’s DNA?

GFB: We started out with a very simple product, gluten-free protein bars. We wouldn’t say that the Bar packaging was particularly forward thinking, but customers really responded to that product and we soon thought about creating that same type of product in a different format and packaging. So, a couple of years after launching our bar products, we launched GFB Bites. We took all the good things about our Bars and put them into a bite-size format in a resealable pouch. At the time, the pouched snack category for protein bites didn’t really exist and we do believe we were a pioneer in terms of packaging in the category.

Whenever we evaluate a potential new product concept, it has to meet certain criteria—great taste, gluten-free, non-GMO, plenty of protein, etc. One of those criteria is innovation in packaging and/or product and we’ve built that into our DNA so that we won’t come out with another “me too” type of product. We think what has driven that is a combination of the competitiveness in the space, but more importantly, consumers have come to expect, and even demand, innovation in food. We’ve seen a rapid rise over the past decade or so of food companies that are innovating and grabbing market share away from the traditional food companies—large companies are just not able to react quickly enough to trends and consumer expectations and we expect to see that continue.


Front side view of the packaging that also shows the end creases for folding into a bowl.

What specific consumers are you targeting?

GFB: With all of our products, our first responsibility is to provide fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks to our customers that eat gluten-free out of necessity or choice. Due to cross-contamination issues, oats are a particular concern for those on a gluten-free diet. Power Breakfast is one of the very few “instant oatmeal” products to actually use certified gluten-free oats. Just by doing that we are opening up this market to a historically underserved segment.

Apart from that, Power Breakfast competes in the hot cereal space, with the added benefit of targeting people that will benefit from a more portable solution for instant oatmeal. By adding fruit, nuts, and seeds along with plenty of protein, we believe Power Breakfast is a great solution for anyone, gluten-free or not, that is looking for a better breakfast experience.

How did the pouch-bowl idea originate? And which came first, the product or the packaging?

GFB: The packaging actually came first. The breakfast space was an area where our products have always played in, to some degree, but Power Breakfast allowed us to create a product truly geared towards the breakfast space. We believe we are innovating in the “oatmeal category” by creating a better oatmeal, but the packaging truly makes Power Breakfast an innovative product on all fronts.

[Ed. Note: GFB declined to identify the packaging supplier.]

Backside view of the Power Breakfast packaging.

What were the packaging requirements?

GFB: Creating something food safe and durable was our top requirement. Being a Certified B Corp, recyclability is a huge concern for us so we love the fact that most of the Power Breakfast packaging is recyclable. While not a requirement, ease of filling and being able to pack out into cases and making them easy to display in-store are other areas of concern that we are continuing to improve.

[Ed. Note: On-pack instructions inform consumers to discard the inner poly-lined pouch and recycle the paperboard sleeve.]

What were the graphics design goals?

GFB: The current packaging design was all done in-house and, like with our other products, we use a fair amount of craft packaging to convey the natural and simple characteristics of our products. Since consumers may not fully understand what the product is, we made efforts to communicate that this still is an “oatmeal” product (we say “like oatmeal but better”).

Another packaging goal was to communicate how to actually use the product (how to open, how much water to add, how to prepare) so our packaging has several areas that address that and we are working to make that information even more clear in future iterations.


The paperboard sleeve's scored gusset that folds open on the package bottom provides structural strength and supports the inner pouch.

Is this easy opening via a tear strip or perforation?

GFB: The opening is via a laser perforation; there’s a heat seal above the perforation.

What was the biggest challenge?

GFB: The biggest challenge so far has been in the filling of the pouches. Machinery that can auto-fill this kind of pouch is very limited right now so we’re currently evaluating our options. The other biggest challenge is communicating to customers exactly what this is, but we feel that the unique packaging will get customers to pick it up and figure it out!

How digital healthcare and packaging benefit users

How digital healthcare and packaging benefit users
Photo credit: sdecoret –

A deep dive into global digital healthcare trends exposes the pros and cons of using technology in decidedly human applications. After a thorough explanation of market drivers, the authors focus on primary and secondary packaging that can enhance distribution safety, improve compliance and perhaps offer an alternative for drug manufacturing.

By Pascale Gauthier and Jean-Michel Cardot

We live in a digital era. For at least 10 years, people have integrated the internet into their daily lives. This development of a simplified digital universe that is no longer exclusive to information technology (IT) engineers allows people to integrate the computer into their daily life, giving them access to knowledge in all fields. Social media and this simplified access (mainly due to the smartphone) have convinced all generations to “stay connected,” and speaking to their children and grandchildren is reason enough for the elderly to learn to use the technology.

But in the last decade and with the ageing of baby boomers, digital use has grown exponentially, especially in healthcare. A lot of free or low-cost software applications have been developed. They’ve allowed a shift from the more simple “communication and email between generations” to the more dedicated “technical solution for the medical device to monitor treatment”—or simply to provide education on the disease.

But digital systems can also be integrated directly into the product or onto pharmaceutical and medical packages as new delivery systems for treatment.

General definitions on digital health universe

So what do we mean by digital healthcare? Several notions are possible:

eHealth is defined bythe World Health Organization (WHO) as the transfer of health resource/care by electronic means for delivering health information; improving public health service; educating and training health workers; and using electronic-business practices in health systems management.

mHealth is eHealth accessible by smartphone or tablet, allowing the delivery of healthcare services via mobile devices, including all patient-level data, as well as healthcare information to practitioners, researchers and patients.

Mobile applications (apps) correspond to the software applications that are tailored to a mobile platform and executed on a server.

TeleHealth and eTeleHealth involve the consistent and accurate remote monitoring and management of health conditions, including vital signs monitoring. This exchange of information helps avoid hospital admissions, supports early discharge and, at the very least, can be used to train and support people to provide self-care.

Telemedicine uses telecommunications and electronic information technologies to provide clinical healthcare at a distance to improve access to medical services and communication between patient and medical staff.

Bio-sensing wearables refer to analytical devices that convert a biological response into an electrical signal. All the changes in physiology can be monitored to provide continuous physiological information [1,2,3,4].

Digital health, rules and guidance

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed guidance for medical device data systems, medical image storage devices and medical image communications. FDA recognizes that the progression to digital health offers the potential for more efficient patient care and has issued a classification of Medical Device Data System (MDDS) from Class III (high risk) to Class I (low risk), without specific registration and listing premarket review requirements for MDDS [5].

To facilitate innovation, the FDA has reduced regulatory requirements since 2011. For example, distributors (that is, companies that do not manufacture) of mobile medical apps are not responsible, meaning they are not subject to regulation, unlike manufacturers.

FDA intends to apply its regulatory oversight to only those mobile apps that are medical devices and whose functionality could pose a risk to a patient’s safety if the mobile app were not to function as intended. Most apps do not fit into a category that FDA intends to regulate [5]. The European Commission (EMA) adopted a regulation on medical devices and a second one on in-vitro diagnostic medical devices. All software with a medical purpose could be a medical device and are defined in the medical device directive [6,7]. For the protection of all personal data, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been implemented.

eHealth and chronic diseases

eHealth can provide simple and secure follow-up for patients in their everyday life for a lot of diseases. Virtual teams of healthcare professionals can be created and are being created. More and more programs are being developed for telemedicine in European countries and the USA that allow daily monitoring for patients who need supervision of their condition.

These electronic surveys seem particularly adapted to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular issues, chronic heart disease or diabetes [1]. Controlling blood pressure with adapted measurement can be done by nurses or directly by the patient with a convenient accessory that directly transmits to a doctor or centralized health survey. This way, daily supervision can be easily implemented and is useful for lack of regular medicine due to geographical problems or budget cuts that give priority to emergency problems.

An interesting approach is to integrate telemedicine as constant supervision in connection with adequate supply, in case of emergency. Telemedicine requires proper implementation and full coordination of all links in the chain of care, but the outlook is huge: Around 300,000 patients are followed by eMedicine in the areas of heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high blood pressure, diabetes and mental illness.

Huge growth is expected in the coming years, with approximately 600% in five years for the U.S., and an estimate of 1.8 million patients treated worldwide through 2017 [1,2,8]. An economic study has found that remote monitoring technologies could save about $200 billion over the next 25 years in the United States. Teleconsultation is a new system under development in all the countries and can be fully implemented with reimbursement of some teleconsultation, that is studied in France.

However, even constant electronic surveillance can never replace regular human contact between patient and doctor, which is essential.New technologies are a nice touch—if everything is correctly set up in a well-established infrastructure that doctors and patients can understand and appreciate how it benefits their organizations and their well-being, respectively. This technology must only stay, though, if it’s an additional help.

And this new approach to medicine should not lead to a new kind of doctor, one that is without contact with real patients who are only connected to machines delivering biological data. Thinking that the doctor is not necessary and can be replaced by a click on Google is a risk.

Another important issue is that the ease of using the equipment may lead patients to being “too connected” to the health supervising technology. Too much attention to extensive health supervision can create hypochondriacs or increase a patient’s existing worries.

Medical apps, an exponential market

The number of mHealth applications published on the two main platforms (iOS and Android) represents an exponential number, with 325,000 apps published (more than doubled in 2.5 years) and 3.7 million downloaded in 2017. As shown by the report GSMA “State of the Nation,” digital health represents a huge market for mobile networks operators (MNO), with revenue that is set to increase almost threefold from 2015 to 2020 [9].

The largest markets for digital health services will be U.S./Canada (53%), Asia Pacific (24%) and Europe (18%). For 2020, the addressable opportunity for MNOs in the health sector is 7.4 billion.

Digital is also a way to save money: $400 billion has been saved in 2017 from the annual healthcare bill in developed countries as a result of mobile healthcare solutions.

Publishers of mHealth apps have selected two main targets: chronically ill patients (31%) and people who are interested in health and fitness (28%). Additionally, physicians are targeted by 14% of app developers.

A lot of apps already exist but many of them need improving, as emphasized by a worldwide survey of 1,130 patients and healthcare professionals regarding their needs in health apps. Patients/caregivers/professionals want apps to help understand medical conditions and treatment (61%), manage the planning (55%) and communicate with medical staff (45%) [10].

The main problem is that, with so many apps, making a choice and then assessing the value of the app is difficult.

In the survey, the top five barriers are:

1. Lack of trust in health apps (who develops or funds them?) (38%).

2. Confusion over huge number of apps to choose from (37%).

3. Uncertainty about which apps to use (32%).

4. Preference for face-to-face with doctor/nurse (31%).

5. Lack of knowledge of relevant health apps (30%).

The survey identifies key needs in five therapy areas:

• For cancer—People need an app that helps manage screening requirements and test results.

• For diabetes—Patients want an intuitive app for calculating insulin, as well as feedback on proper maintenance for improved health.

• For disability—Patients require an app to support pain management.

• For mental health—People need an app to help manage a personal mental crisis.

• For wellness—People look for an app that gives feedback on how treatment/care/lifestyle can impact health/wellbeing.

Regarding the apps themselves, how can patients, caregivers, clinicians and developers work together to develop high-quality apps? Suggestions include: involve patients; address unmet needs; set up a one-stop advice shop for developers; share best practices; gain “air time” for quality apps; find a successful business model; demonstrate clinical rigor; bring apps to the mainstream; and enable informed choices [10].

Apps allow monitoring almost everything and each year, for health topics from A to Z, people can find the apps ranking and best choice for their disease. But apps can also be useful to recognize pills or monitor treatments. Devoted apps for people who suffer from severe diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, can be found (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Examples of various health-related apps [11,12].

Definitely, smartphones or accessories associated to apps can provide a variety of features.For example, in the cardiology field, a good cardiac monitoring device can be easily integrated as a safety complement during a sporting activity, such as running. Easy to use and understand, these applications can help people enjoy a reasonable sporting activity and adapt their efforts to improve their own health-and-wellness possibilities.

For the first time, an iPhone ECG can turn a mobile phone into a portable electrocardiogram (ECG) (see Figure 2, left). And the first medical smartphone “LifewatchV” (see Figure 2, right), introduced in 2012, looks like a classic smartphone but integrates different sensors to measure ECG and to detect an abnormal heart rate in 30 seconds. The device can also tell people their state of stress and their body fat via the electrical conductivity of their skin.

Another sensor indicates the level of oxygen in the blood (saturation); a playback of glucose is proposed by inserting top strips with a drop of blood for analysis; and an infrared sensor placed on the back of the smartphone can measure your temperature when you place it on your forehead. This helpful “all-in-one health” measurement tool can also call a doctor if needed because it is a mobile phone (see Figure 2, right).

Figure 2: Smartphones as a health partner [13,14].

Through apps, smartphones allow people to monitor their heart rate or their blood pressure but also their diabetes, weight and food intake. They help people take care of their babies or teach their children how to brush their teeth. Each day new apps emerge, without limit on imagination, for daily monitoring that fits in perfectly with our nomadic life (see Figure 3).

Some unusual apps are being developed to detect retina cancer using photos and your smartphone. That’s a good idea for early detection of this rare disease, but a bad thing if it generates excessive fears. In 2016, Roche developed a smartphone-based monitoring system for measuring the fluctuation of symptoms of people suffering from Parkinson disease. And in 2018, a research paper has indicated that smartphone-sensor technologies provide reliable, valid, clinically meaningful and highly sensitive phenotypic data in Parkinson's disease [15,16].

Introduced in 2014, the new and tiny SciO scanner can detect the molecular signature of food. It sends the details to your smartphone through its Bluetooth connection. SciO’s database translates that signature into nutritional content, becoming the first pocket molecular sensor. And a French start-up company has developed the clever DietSensor nutrition coaching app, named a CES 2016 Best of Innovation Awards, that helps diabetics in their daily life [17,18].

Figure 3: Smartphone for various monitoring [19,20,21,22,23].

Digital and drug packaging

Now that we better understand the market drivers, let’s look at primary packs for drugs and devices, along withnew systems and components that better address patient specificities [24].

For solid oral forms, we have numerous pack formats for contraceptive drugs [25], where drug compliance is the fundamental way to prevent undesired pregnancy. Slim blister packs for on-the-go, diary-printed blisters, stickers to remind you when to take pills (see Figure 4, left)—a lot has been done either with packs or with formulations (placebo pills avoid any treatment interruption, for example).

For contraceptives, the first intelligent tablet dispenser, called the Clyk, has been co-developed by Bayer Medical GmbH and Balda Medical GmbH [26]. It won the Columbus award in 2012 for intuitiveness and ease of use (see Figure 4, center). This system provides monitoring, as well as offers real-time information on contraception use. It can be easily combined with a mobile phone application to send you reminders via “SMS” (Smart Message System, also known as text messages) of when to take the pill—a high-tech solution especially useful for teenagers.

Figure 4: Examples of blisters packs [24,25,26,27].

All these ideas can be used for numerous chronic treatments to improve compliance and reduce oversights. Pillboxes connected to smartphones are arriving and can be helpful specifically for the elderly who may have difficulties managing multiple medications (often more than three pills per day). New security features emit a warning signal and contact the patient’s family by GMS networks, which is useful in cases of compliance troubles or to prevent drug misuse (see Figure 4, bottom center). There are even digital systems that can be included in packs for monitoring treatments (see Figure 4, right).

Here is another example: Digital systems can be successfully used for drugs in pulmonary administration, where people with chronic diseases such as asthma or COPD need devices with the best design for easy integration—without stigma—in everyday life. Design is essential for all the drug forms and, since the mid-2000s, has been associated with improved functionality and product performance.

In February 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a guidance document for applying human factors and usability engineering to medical devices [28]. The goal was to support manufacturers in improving device design to minimize potential use errors and prevent any resulting harm. Numerous devices for non-pressurized systemswith an active drug in dry powder, pre-dosed in caps or containers—offer a simple use with only three short steps: “open/breath in/close.”

For drugs that are efficient in low dosages, counters and digital screens are essential to avoid taking the active drug too many times, either by accident or on purpose. An electronic reminder can be added to lock the system and help prevent overdosing (see Figure 5, left) [29]. They also have been proposed for nasal spray (e-advancia) [30] and ophthalmic administration (system e-novelia) [31], to both help patients use the devices and monitor treatments (see Figure 5).

For injectable drugs—one of the most regulated pharmaceutical sectors—a lot of devices allow simple and safe use by nurses, caregivers or patients themselves [32]. At first mainly developed for insulin and diabetic therapeutics, many systemsare now available for other chronic diseases that required regular injections (see Figure 5, center).

For example, hormonal treatment (somatropin) [33] in auto-injectors with an electronic display allow a clear calculation of the right dosage, making it easy for patients to just follow instructions on the screen (see Figure 5, right). Digital can be integrated into various packaging platforms for the safe and reproducible reconstitution/injection of products. A new range of connected pens or additional connected sensors are converting previously “dumb” injection devices into powerful internet-connected systems that vastly improve drug administration.

Figure 5: Examples of devices integrating digital in various administration fields. [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36]


For secondary packaging, new products are enabling a huge evolution into digital. Pictograms have improved drug recognition (regardless of the patient’s age and eyesight), but a new challenge appears: The need to authenticate and prove the safety of genuine products.

Various holograms and two-dimensional codes (see Figure 6, left) have been used in the past. Now smart tags are here, connecting users via a smartphone to an internet site that explains the drug and its use. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags help fight counterfeiting, improve safe use and preserve a drug. Now near-field communication (NFC) technology can create “smart” packaging that enables a high level of communication between consumers and brands with only three elements: an NFC tag, a smartphone (with NFC technology) and an application. This smart packaging provides nearly unlimited information—accessed via the cloud—for authentication, education, temperature safety markers for vaccines and anything else.

Following this trend of smart labels, flexible electronics and the emerging technology of sensors and electronics circuits made directly onto a thin and pliable plastic film have been developed for packaging [37]. They are used to form low-cost electronic blisters (see Figure 6, right) with various uses, such as monitoring adherence. When the patient pushes a tablet through the blister pack, it breaks conductive lines. An integrated electronic chip records the time and date; and transfers the data via a suitably equipped smartphone to their doctor. Initial medical trials of these blisters showed promising results, but performance must be improved to be more simple to use and to offer a reliable tool for assessing treatment adherence [38,39].

Figure 6: Examples of smart blisters [24,37,38,39].


Digital and drug monitoring / distributing systems

New technologies are not only associated with drug packaging but can also provide proper direct delivery of an active drug. The first digital medicine has been proposed for serious mental illness, where treatment compliance must be perfect. Proteus, an ingestible sensor, is associated in a single tabletaripiprazole pill (Abilify)to digitally record ingestion and, with patient consent, share information with their healthcare professionals and caregivers. The FDA first approved this system as a new drug application (NDA) in September 2015, then declined it in April 2016, asking for more tests, and finally approved it again in November 2017 [40,41,42].

In the area of wearables devices, “electronic tattoos” (see Figure 7, left)—awarded at netexpo in 2013—are small flexible, lightweight and stretchable patches, easily tolerated on the skin for several days. They represent “all-in-one” non-invasive technology for monitoring vital signs, and transmitting medical data [43]. The E-skin thermometer reached the market in 2015 to determine skin temperature, and can be customized as little friends for children (see Figure 7, top center) [44].

In cosmetics, to prevent excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, My UV-patch, presented at CES 2016, was the first flexible patch for measuring UV exposure (see Figure 7, bottom center) [45]. The color of the patch changes depending on exposure time, preventing the risk related to excessive exposure to the sun. The system has been miniaturized into a nail patch in 2018 and at CES 2019, the first patch for measuring skin pH has been presented—one step further for connected wearable tools [46,47] that can help prevent skin problems.

Following these trends, researchers in South Korea [48] have developed an electronic “smart” bandage that can detect tremors, store data and deliver drugs through the skin in a small piece thinner than a single sheet of paper. And a first prototype skin patch that can sense the glucose level, as well as deliver a drug when needed, has been developed [49]. Freeing diabetics from frequent finger-pricks and drug injections is also the goal of research from Google and Novartis into smart contact lens (see Figure 7, top right) that can measure glucose level in tears, which could be a possible revolution for those patients [50].

Figure 7: Electronic tattoos with various purposes [44,45,49,50].

We also might see a digital revolution in the manufacturing process. The well-respected publication International Journal of Pharmaceutics devoted its May 2015 issue to inkjet and 3D printing used for making drugs [51]. Various papers explore many possible applications and consider printing both solutions and solids.

For example, anti-cancer drugs can be printed onto microneedles, and flexography printing can make medicated oral wafers, as well as various film coaters. Moving on to solid or semi-solid forms, researchers are looking at 3D printing to make modified and controlled-release tablets, such as multi-compartment tablets and tablets with specific geometries not achievable with powder compaction.

As an industrial process, 3D-printing has reached a new step with the FDA approval of Spritam (levetiracetam, an antiepileptic drug from Aprecia Pharmaceuticals). The Zip Dose technology uses a three-dimensional printing platform to formulate a drug where the drug itself dissolves at a quicker rate than during the traditional manufacturing process [52]. Printed drugs may enable personalized medicine by printing a dose of one’s own medicine.


This overview on the digital world underlines that new emerging systems are becoming a reality and can greatly improve how to treat and understand diseases. Definitely, we are just at the starting point of a full revolution toward diagnostic, medicines and compliance tools, personalized for patients’ own specificities and pathologies. The challenge could be choosing which of them are the most helpful.

All these new technologies and digital products should be seen as opportunities for better monitoring and understanding of treatments, as well as for new drug delivery and manufacturing methods. However, this greater connectivity must not overwhelm the patient but should allow him or her to have a better comprehension of both disease and treatment.

More than a trend, digital represents an evolution that everyone needs to accept and integrate as the great tool it is for helping patients’ everyday life.

Pascale Gauthier

Co-author Dr. Pascale Gauthier is a pharmacist with a Ph.D. and is in charge of marketing and design courses at Clermont Auvergne University, serving on the UMR MEDIS 454, Faculty of Pharmacy Clermont-Ferrand in France. Reach her by email at

Jean-Michel Cardot

Co-author Jean-Michel Cardot is a pharmacist with a Ph.D., and is a professor at Clermont Auvergne University, serving on the UMR MEDIS 454, Faculty of Pharmacy Clermont-Ferrand in France.

References and Notes:

1 - PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Touching lives through mobile health assessment of the global market opportunity”

2 -

3 - Gauthier, P., “Gaming how it can advance drug delivery, digital health and a better world?” Drug Delivery Congress Europe, DDP, Berlin, Sept. 16-17, 2015.

4 - World Health Organization, “mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technology”

5 -

6 -

7 - White & Case LLC, “Mobile health apps: Are they a regulated medical device”

8 -

9 - GSMA, “The GSMA Guide to the Internet of Things”

10 - PatientView Ltd., “What do patients and carers need in health apps – but are not getting?”

11 - MobiHealthNews, “Samsung releases Backup Memory app for Alzheimer’s patients”

12 - mHealth Spot, “Researchers at UCLA testing apps to fight addiction”

13 -

14 -

15 -

16 -

17 -

18 -

19 - Medgadget LLC, “LifeWatch V: Android-based Healthcare Smartphone Packed with Medical Sensors”

20 -

21 -

22 -

23 -

24 - Gauthier, P., “Much more than packs! Overview of innovative packaging that changes life of drugs forms. Pharmapack Europe 2015, Paris, UBM Canon, Paris, Feb. 11-12, 2015.

25 - Gauthier, P., Cardot, J.M., “Teenagers as a Moving Target: How Can Teenagers Be Encouraged to Accept Treatment?” Journal of Personalized Medicine, 2012, 2, 277-286.

26 - The HCPC alliance Columbus award 2012: Clyk the intelligent tablet dispenser from Bayer Healthcare

27 -

28 - “Applying Human Factors and Usability Engineering to Medical Devices Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff”

29 - Gauthier, P., “Spray and foam: Overview of products and use.” Aerosol Europe, 2013, 21, 6, 12-17.

30 -

31 -

32 - Gauthier, P., “Design adaptation to injectable forms depending users and drugs specificities.” 2nd Annual Prefilled syringes and novel injectors devices, Informa Drug Delivery Summit, Berlin, Sept. 17-18, 2013.

33 -

32 -

33 - Landmark Dose Indicator from Aptar Pharma

34 - BioCorp press release, “The Datapen awarded at Pharmapack Europe”

35 - BioCorp press release, “BioCorp receives CE mark approval for its smart cap EasyLog”

36 - Press release: Pharmapack Europe award for medical device Intuity Lyo

37 - Van den Brand, P., “Flexible pharma.” Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer (PMPS), May 2013, p.60-62.

38 -,

39 -

40 - Proteus Digital Health press release, “U.S. FDA Accepts First Digital Medicine New Drug Application for Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health”

41 - Mobi Health News, “FDA declines to approve Proteus-Otsuka sensor-equipped pill, asks for more tests”

42 - Mobi Health News, “Otsuka, Proteus finally win FDA approval for sensor-equipped Abilify”

43 -

44 -

45 - Digital Trends, “Hands on: L’Oreal My UV patch”

46 -

47 -

48 - Mintel, “Innovative smart bandage aims to heal first aid market”

49 - MIT Technology Review, “Controlling diabetes with a skin patch”

50 - Time, “Google granted patent for smart contact lens”

51 - “Inkjet printing for pharmaceutics - A review of research and manufacturing”

52 - Forbes, “FDA approves 3D printed drug available in the US”


EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Farewell to packaging friends we lost in 2018

Farewell to packaging friends we lost in 2018
Photo credit: svetazi -

In 2016, a packaging buddy of mine, Dan Balan, was having some serious medical issues. He and I met for lunch to finish preparations for a two-day conference on food and beverage packaging innovations we were putting on in a couple weeks. When I saw how sickly he looked, I feared the workload of what still had to be done was putting too much of a strain on him in his weakened condition. As he left the restaurant, he admonished, “Don’t you worry about me. I’m going to beat this thing.”

About a week later, Dan was dead, and those were his last words to me. More than two years later, it’s still nearly impossible for me to talk about him without my throat closing up.

Dan and I had only met about two years earlier yet we immediately recognized a kindred spirit. Oh, his intellect! His humor! He wrote several articles for Packaging Digest and one of them, “‘Creative Destruction’ is transforming packaging,” took my breath away with its beauty and insight. In some of our collaborative efforts, he forced me out of my comfort zone (which I hated! and loved!), pushing me to excel as he trusted I could and would.

Dan Balan challenged me, in a good way. I wonder if I would be better than I am now if he were still alive.

After Dan died, I became more aware that the packaging community suffers devasting losses like this each year. And the older I get, it seems the more I knew the people who died.

If you’ll indulge my personal remembrances, here are four packaging colleagues who passed away in 2018 that I’d like to pay tribute to:

John Johnston

Me and John at Pack Expo 2016, when he was just 85.

John Johnston, owner of American Design & Packaging and former president of Doboy Packaging Machinery (now part of Bosch Packaging Machinery), worked in packaging for 58 years. 58 years! An unofficial mentor, John taught me quite a lot about the role of packaging machinery companies in the industry’s eco system—and, by that, I mean economics. He really knew his stuff and I will sorely miss our conversations and hugs. Active in PMMI, John served as the organization’s chairman in 1983 and was inducted into the Packaging Hall of Fame in 2000.

Kevin Gingrich

This is exactly how I remember Kevin, with his mega-watt smile.

As a packaging trade show approached, I’d inevitably hear from Kevin Gingrich, who was communications and e-business manager for Bosch Rexroth, asking for me to swing by the booth and chat. With a ready smile, he’d welcome me and proceed to wow me not only with whatever new products the company was exhibiting but with his knowledge of the overarching automation trends driving those developments. Remembering his smile makes me smile. He died unexpectedly in June at the young age of 57.

Curt Larsen

Curt was instrumental in reinvigorating IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee.

For years, Curt Larsen was my go-to guy for any questions that were related to medical packaging. I met him probably a couple decades ago while judging an Institute of Packaging Professionals AmeriStar competition and immediately learned his value as we explored the entries in the medical category. Curt was co-founder of packaging consultancy Spartan Design Group and meant a lot to my colleague Daphne Allen.

Bill Carteaux

Bill Carteaux, president/CEO, Plastics, fought leukemia for nearly three years. I didn’t know Bill well, unfortunately. We’d met a couple times over the decades but never had any substantial conversations or shared experiences. I admired him, though, and his professionalism and the job he did with the association to champion the many benefits of plastic packaging.

Have you lost a special packaging partner this year? I invite you to comment below to share their name and what they meant to you.

We are so fortunate to work in an industry with so many good people. Until we meet again…


In addition to leading suppliers showing the latest solutions in labeling, automation, food packaging, package design and more—WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) gives you access to the industry's leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits, the MD&M Medtech Conference and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today!