How is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Packaging Job?

How is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Packaging Job?

Whether it’s working at home to maintain social distance or finding yourself furloughed because customers have disappeared, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted many companies. It’s anything but business as usual today.

The staff of Packaging Digest hopes you and yours are safe and healthy during this global pandemic. Please let us know how you are doing and if you have any advice for your packaging peers by taking this quick poll.

Flexible Packaging

11 Influential Flexible Packs: FPA Gold Award Winners

11 Influential Flexible Packs: FPA Gold Award Winners
Five of the 11 exemplary flexible packaging Gold Award winners in the FPA competition.

These flexible packaging innovations showcase exceptional convenience, utility, sustainability, and shelf impact.

Innovative flexibility in structure, sustainability, convenience, and utility characterized the winners in The Flexible Packaging Association’s 64th Annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition. The awards were announced in conjunction with the 2020 FPA Annual Meeting earlier this month in Bonita Springs, FL.

This year’s competition drew 73 packages totaling 206 entries, with a number entered in several categories. Thirty packages were honored with 48 Achievement Awards in various categories including 11 gold awards highlighted in this slideshow.

The judges were Min Degruson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Packaging, University of Wisconsin – Stout; Matt Reynolds, Editor, Packaging World; and Mike Richmond, Ph.D., Principal, PTIS, LLC.

An ongoing megatrend, sustainability, was echoed by a number of entries that used bio-based and compostable materials, noted Richmond. “I'm excited about how the industry has really stepped up to the sustainability and circular economy challenges with enhanced barriers and recyclability, increasing the post-recycled content, and reusability.”

Another growing trend: The ongoing transition of products previously packaged in rigid containers into flexible packaging.

“Several of the entries looked like traditional rigid packages, but they were made of flexible packaging,” noted Degruson. “That's something that stands out to me because companies are addressing that consumers want to see the traditional rigid packaging or glass jar, but the packaging is made as a flexible packaging to reduce the material usage.”

Several entries also addressed consumer convenience, making it easier for the consumers to shop, transport, dispense from, and use packaging.


The Highest Achievement Award was bestowed on Aeroflex as evaluated by the judges to possess overall packaging excellence, significant attributes in all award categories, and contributing most to the advancement of the industry. It also won Gold for...

  • Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging
  • Packaging Excellence
  • Shelf Impact
  • Sustainability
  • Technical Innovation

Manufacturer: AeroFlexx

AeroFlexx is a “new to the world” package format that is revolutionizing the liquid packaging industry as the only flexible package providing features and benefits that are superior to that of a conventional bottle. It uses an air frame to integrate tailored rigidity into a flexible film, creating a package with no discreet closure; clean and controlled one handed dispensing functionality; a 360 degree palette for branding; a structure that is e-commerce compliant without additional protection, all with at least 50% less plastic than a bottle. The package is consumer preferred, customer centric, more sustainable, and cost competitive with bottles and designed to disrupt the entire liquids packaging value chain.


Predilecta Sacciali Jar Shaped Pouch

Awards:  Gold Award — Shelf Impact

Silver Award — Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging

Silver Award — Packaging Excellence

Manufacturer: Amcor Flexibles Brazil,

The Sacciali brand jar shaped pouch combines the best of flexible packaging technology for lightweight and long shelf life with increased shelf impact using graphic design and a shape factor to enhance consumer interest at the point of sale. The “mason jar” shape nods to the traditional glass packaging common in the sauce category. However, flexible packaging offers the significant benefits of a 97% weight reduction over glass, leading to a wide range of sustainable benefits.

StreamOne R Retortable Recycle-Ready Polyester

Awards:  Gold Award — Sustainability

Gold Award — Technical Innovation

Silver Award — Packaging Excellence

Manufacturer: Paxxus, Inc.

StreamOne R is a revolutionary, high-performance, all-polyester packaging solution designed for the #1 polyester  (PET) recycle stream. It has been engineered specifically for applications requiring retort or autoclave sterilization. StreamOne R maintains its ultra- high barrier and reliable hermetic seals even after processing at high temperatures, ensuring that product quality and shelf life are not compromised. The consistent high barrier that StreamOne R provides allows products that previously required an aluminum foil barrier to move to an environmentally friendly package, supporting brand owners’ sustainability initiatives.


4D Bags with Handle.

Award: Gold Award — Shelf Impact

Manufacturer: Uflex Limited

Uflex developed a brick-shaped, all-panel registered bag/pouch with a handle and reclosable option that can either stand-up or lie down. It is similar to flexi-cartons and is an excellent rigid carton replacement product. The standability and shelf prominence of rigid packaging are now combined with the functionality of flexible packaging in this new “4D Pack.” All six panels of the bag are printed and can be made of different substrates. The look of the bag creates excellent shelf appeal, helping it catch the immediate attention of the end user. For convenience, the bag can be carried from a top handle while its re-closable option allows product dispensing through the zipper. The bag adds a fourth dimension to the product making it a unique four-sided flat flexible bag that offers the luster and barrier properties of the film and prominent carton like display.


Hill's All PE "Recyclable" Pet Treat Bags

Awards:  Gold Award — Packaging Excellence

Silver Award — Sustainability

Silver Award — Technical Innovation

Manufacturer: Plastic Packaging Technologies, LLC

Overcoming all conventional limitations known from using only polyethylene (PE) films for highly engineered packages, these all PE laminated bags allowed the international brand-owner to launch into fully “recyclable” flexible packaging formats without any compromises in appearance or performance. Combined innovation in new materials, equipment, and processing methods features results with equal clarity, graphics, aesthetics, rigidity, puncture-resistance, machineability, barrier properties, grease-resistance, varied closure options, and easy-opening with laser-scoring. In fully recognizing the current uncertainties of requirements around the recycled PE material for end-markets, the EVOH barrier film also incorporates the compatibilizing additive to neutralize any potential negatives to the recycling stream.


Skratch Labs Limited Edition EF Pro Cycling HP Mosaic Packaging

Awards:  Gold Award — Printing

Gold Award — Shelf Impact

Manufacturer: ePac — Flexible Packaging

Skratch Labs developed a limited-edition package for their sports hydration drink mix to celebrate EF Education First Pro Cycling’s participation in the Tour de France. Inspired by the striking metallic pink and blue color-shifting design of the team’s jerseys, ePac and Skratch were able to create a truly unique stand-up pouch using ePac’s all digital printing platform and HP’s Mosaic variable print enhancement technology. Each pouch in the entire 10,000 unit print run is unique and features an exclusive color-shifting design.

See 10,000 unique Skratch Labs pouches support Tour de France team, published August 2019 by PlasticsToday.


Insura Seal Verification

Award: Gold Award — Technical Innovation

Manufacturer: Amcor Healthcare Packaging,

According to the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, suspected problems with a package’s seal accounted for approximately two-thirds of all 2017 packaging-related recalls. In 2018, according to the FDA’s recall database, over 16 million medical devices were recalled due to package seal failures. Suspected seal failures are managed cautiously since true failures almost always result in compromised product sterility. While package fabrication issues lead to some failures, inaccurate device placement and equipment wear can also cause failure. Currently, it is difficult to assess seal integrity once the package is filled and the final seal is made. Although destructive tests lead to statistical confidence in the integrity of the product, they are wasteful. Non-destructive techniques are either time consuming or, like machine vision methods, are unable to confidently find all types of failures. To overcome these deficiencies, a package closure indicator that functions with conventional packaging materials and equipment at typical filling speeds was developed that generates a color change when critical seal parameters, namely temperature, pressure (intimacy of contact), and time, are achieved. Color continuity indicates a lack of defects while color intensity correlates well with seal strength.            


Paqui Tortilla Chips Pillow Pouch

Award: Gold Award — Shelf Impact

Manufacturer: Printpack

Amplify Snack Brands redesigned its Paqui tortilla chip packaging to create a striking brand block on the shelf. They chose a design with a large logo, a strong focal point, and simple food photography to create a memorable package that would make it easy for consumers to find and remember their brand. The enhanced graphic appearance of the packaging uses vibrant contrasting colors and interesting visual effects created through the printing process.


FlexiTube for Bio Creative Labs – USA

Gold Award — Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging

Gold Award — Packaging Excellence

Silver Award — Technical Innovation

Manufacturer: Uflex Limited

Uflex developed three variants of the Super Foods Natural Hair Care FlexiTubes for Bio Creative Labs — USA. The FlexiTubes provide 360-degree printing with a soft matte finish and an excellent reproduction of graphics. The gold metallic lines were provided with a holographic layer thus eliminating the use of a foil stamping process.


Premade STANDCAP Inverted Pouches

Awards:  Gold Award — Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging

Gold Award — Packaging Excellence

Silver Award — Sustainability

Manufacturer: Glenroy, Inc.

Premade STANDCAP inverted pouches extend product freshness, stand out on the shelf, provide time-saving and utensil-free convenience for users, and make an eco-friendly impact by reducing fossil fuel usage, water usage, and greenhouse gas emissions when compared to alternative package formats.

See Inverted pouch trend upends food packaging: Chico Honey, published October 2019.



Stacy’s Women’s History Month Packaging

Award: Gold Award — Printing

Manufacturer: Printpack

This collection of limited-edition packages tells the story of a female entrepreneur’s journey to success and is designed to inspire and support female entrepreneurs. The packaging’s purpose is to connect and align the brand, female entrepreneurs, and supporters of female-founded businesses. These were sold online through the United Way to help fund new and emerging businesses to celebrate Women’s History Month and as part of the Stacy’s Rise Project.

Top 5 trends shaping the antimicrobial packaging market

Top 5 trends shaping the antimicrobial packaging market
Intense competition among antimicrobial packaging suppliers includes hefty investments in R&D to discover advanced food-grade materials.

Companies are developing exciting new active packaging materials to enhance safety in food, healthcare and personal-care markets.

Intense competition among the manufacturers of antimicrobial packaging is defined by rising innovation in the market. Companies are keen on technological advancements and are making hefty investments in research and development (R&D) to discover advanced food-grade materials and garner a wider consumer base. Rising health consciousness among consumers is a key factor encouraging companies to experiment with packaging materials and raise the standards of safety. There is a significant rise in the demand for packaged and convenience food from around the world and emerging regions in particular. This demand is poised to create growth opportunities for the players operating in the global market for antimicrobial packaging.

Top Trends in antimicrobial packaging market

Consumer preference for fresh foods is expected to boost innovation as the manufacturers are working towards improving shelf life of the packaged foods and beverages. Materials like silver nanoparticles (AgNP) are used to develop antimicrobial packaging. AgNPs also possess anti-fungi, anti-yeast, and antiviral properties. Most importantly, these nanoparticles can be mixed with edible and non-degradable polymers. This factor can propel their usage in active food packaging. Following are the top trends observed in the market:

#1 Combination of silver nanoparticles and bacterial cellulose

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad recently discovered the use of silver nanoparticles and bacterial cellulose for advanced food packaging with antimicrobial properties. Developed using gluconacetobacter xylinus bacteria, this bacterial cellulose is porous and highly crystalline. The material has excellent water holding and mechanical properties. The researchers managed to preserve tomatoes for around 30 days with the help of this material and without any kind of microbial spoilage. According to them, the bacterial cellulose principle is applicable for producing antimicrobial packaging to be used for healthcare and personal hygiene products.

#2 Packaging material to release food preservative on demand

Growing demand for food preservatives that can offer antimicrobial activity without being in direct contact with food product can fuel market growth. For instance, a team of researchers from India are expected to develop a packaging material that can meet aforementioned requirements. According to their study, acid synthesized in overripe fruits should cleave acid labile hydrazine to release preservative called salicylaldehyde from graphene oxide (GO). To maximize loading and overcome challenge of GO reduction by hydrazine, two-step activation with ethylenediamine and 4-nitrophenyl chloroformate respectively is expected to be followed. The final composite can allow efficient release of preservative with stimuli of overripe fruit juice to improve fruit’s shelf life.

#3 Bio-based plastics to extend the shelf life of packaged food

Rising demand for bio-based over petroleum based products to reduce greenhouse emissions can augment growth of market in the forthcoming years. Such emissions can damage marine ecosystems and effect food chain attributed to bioaccumulation. To resolve the issue, manufacturing companies and research institutes are involved in R&D activities to develop bio-based composites for food packaging. For instance, a team of researchers from Suleyman Demirel University in Kazakhstan recently produced a packaging film consisting of antimicrobial and antioxidant internal layer of Chitosan (CH). The outer layer is of polycaprolactone (PCL) to offer better mechanical and barrier properties. This bio-layer film can result in bio-based flexible packaging material with adequate mechanical and barrier properties.

#4 Antibacterial trolley bags to prevent bacterial growth while shopping

Well-known British supermarket chain Morrisons recently introduced antibacterial trolley bags (reusable plastic grocery bags) in its stores intended to make supermarket shopping hygienic and convenient. The company is expected to utilize its Biomaster technology to protect the inner lining of these bags and prevent bacterial growth. This protection can last for the lifetime of the bag.

#5 Packaging film coated with clay nanotubes to prevent microbial growth

A team of scientists recently developed a packaging film coated with clay nanotubes holding antibacterial essential oil. This film can provide one-two punch that can prevent over-ripening and microbial growth to improve shelf-life of packaged food products.

What the future holds: market overview

Per Grand View Research, the antimicrobial packaging market will witness strong competition in the years to come due to emergence of newer companies and evolving consumer demands. Presence of numerous small and medium businesses and large global organizations can further intensity the market competition. Some of the top manufacturers such as Dow Chemical, BASF SE, Mondi Plc, and Dunmore Corp. among many others are anticipated to make investments in terms of operational expansion across emerging regions like Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa.

Asia Pacific is poised to witness impressive demand for antimicrobial food packaging materials, which is  primarily driven by rising preference for convenience food. Consumer awareness and fast-paced lifestyle can further create growth opportunities in this region, find the researchers.

Harsha Jandhyala has more than 4 years’ experience in market research and consulting. Currently, he leads the Chemicals & Materials division, and is associated with strategic analysis and market monitoring at Grand View Research. Harsha has a proven track record of executing consulting engagements, conducting techno-economic feasibility studies, planning operational strategies, and policy research.

4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis

4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis

One of the reasons I’m proud to cover the packaging industry as a journalist is because of all the good you do that I get to write about. Right now, a lot of people are fighting this temporary coronavirus crisis on many levels. Here is my opinion on some things the packaging industry has recommended, suggested, or already done to help.

1. Postpone large congregations, yes, but keep talking about the packaging issues.

For safety, as well as because of restrictions on international travel and large gatherings, the world’s largest packaging show, interpack — which was to take place this May — has been rescheduled for 2021. New dates are February 25 to March 3, and I hope to see you there.

Many other packaging-related events this spring have been postponed or cancelled. Rightly so. But let’s continue to talk about packaging issues to keep advancing needed solutions. We’ll probably see an uptick in virtual meetings and events. I encourage you to still PARTICIPATE when you can.

2. Reinstate domestic pharmaceutical production.

The current COVID-19 situation has revealed a disturbing reliance on China for the manufacture of critical medicines and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), something the producers of CPhI Worldwide have highlighted over the years [Editor’s disclaimer: CPhI, the world’s leading platform for pharmaceutical ingredients solutions, is produced by Packaging Digest’s parent company]. According to FiercePharma, the US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t even know the extent of our dependence.

But John R. Henry, packaging machinery wizard at and Puerto Rican resident, reminds us that the island still has the infrastructure and talent to again be the pharmaceutical manufacturing hub it was from the 1970s through the early 2000s when pharmaceutical companies took advantage of the US federal tax incentive known as Section 936.

3. Keep/reward ethics in business.

Price gouging happens during a crisis. It shouldn’t; but it does. Form-fill-seal machinery manufacturer QuickPouch announced last week that it would work harder to support customers involved with projects to contain/fight COVID-19 and would waive any expedited/rush fees. Here's my tweet:

What other companies should be commended for their ethical efforts during this pandemic? Please tell us in the comments below.

4. Use/promote hygienic packaging.

I don’t often editorialize, but I will admit that I see huge value in reusable packaging in today’s “sustainability” climate, like that developed for the Loop circular shopping platform. And in “Pandemic Prompts Fears over Transition to Reusable Products” from Environmental Leader, Loop CEO Tom Szaky reassures us that packages in the Loop program are aggressively cleaned to ensure safety.

But I also think single-use packaging, which has suffered from huge criticism in recent years because of its supposed wastefulness, might have an edge right now from a “sanitary” point of view because of limited handling/access of the inner products.

Starbucks and other foodservice establishments seem to agree, as they temporarily stop refilling their customers’ reusable cups because of the pandemic.

I expect interest in packaging and cleanliness to climb — because it already has. Our July 2018 article “Top 5 trends shaping the antimicrobial packaging market” is seeing a spike in page views and is already one of the top stories of March 2020.

Regardless of what packaging task you perform — whether packaging design, production, or logistics — thanks for helping to deliver safe and secure products and supplies across the nation during this trying time. Take special care, please.

Medical Packaging

Medical Packaging Expert Wins First Honor Award

Medical Packaging Expert Wins First Honor Award
With an impressive career in medical device packaging, John Spitzley earns the first Honor Award given by IoPP's Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee.

John Spitzley is the 2020 recipient of a new Honor Award bestowed by the Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC) of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP).

This annual award was created to recognize a person’s lifetime commitment to medical device packaging, as well as their industry contributions and advancements. The judges — a committee of industry experts — also consider the person’s alignment with the IoPP-MDPTC vision/mission, which is to provide a forum for medical device packaging professionals for discussion, exchange, and development of information on issues that affect them in areas of organization, problems and technical issues, regulations, standards, and new technologies.

Criteria for winning is:
• Years of service.
• Outstanding contributions.
• Committee leadership/participation.
• Speaking at conferences.
• Recognition for standards development.

David DiVaccaro, MDPTC ombudsman, awards chairperson, and principal of DiVaccaro Consulting Group LLC, announced this year’s winner on Wednesday, March 11, at HealthPack 2020 in Charlotte, NC.

Spitzley’s contributions to the medical device packaging community span several decades. He graduated from Michigan State’s School of Packaging in 1968 and worked at global medical device manufacturing leader Medtronic from 1973 to 2005, when he retired as Technical Fellow - Packaging. He is currently principal of Spartan Design Group, an engineering consultant firm specializing in medical products packaging.

Spitzley’s notable achievements over the years include:
• Co-chair of US delegation for the Assn. for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Working Group 7 formed in 1992, which lead to ISO 11607 in 1997.
• Past chairman of the AdvaMed (Health Industry Manufacturers Assn./HIMA) Sterilization/Packaging Committee.
• Co-author of HIMA Sterile Packaging Guidance Document.
• IoPP Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) Lifetime.
• IoPP College of Fellows.
• Instrumental in the revival of IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC) in 2002.
• Program chair for HealthPack from 2005 to 2013, an event that has grown from a small regional conference to a global technical and research conference with more than 300 participants.
• Past executive board member for ASTM’s F02 “Flexible Barrier Packaging” committee, and current committee member.
• Named one of the “100 Notable People in the Medical Device Industry” in 2004 by Canon Communications (a previous owner of Packaging Digest).
• Cited in several industry articles, including “Avoiding ‘self-inflicted wounds’ in medical packaging” and “Looking back over 20 years of sterile medical packaging” published by Packaging Digest’s sister publication for a time Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News (PMP News).

Serving with DiVaccaro on this year’s award committee was Anna Thomas, Packaging Engineer III, SeaSpine; Manuel Martinez, Packaging Engineer, Cordis; Damian Rodriguez, CPP/MH, Corporate Package Engineering, B. Braun Medical Inc.; Jen Benolken, CPP/MH, Medical Device Manufacturing & Regulatory Specialist, Packaging Engineering, Tyvek, DuPont Protection Solutions; and Charles (Chuck) Taylor, Principal Packaging Engineer, Medtronic.

Packaging Design Winners and Losers Leap Out in February 2020

Packaging Design Winners and Losers Leap Out in February 2020
Learning from packaging victors and victims helps designers craft better packages.

What makes a good or bad packaging design? Today’s winners might reflect the retro-futurism trend or tap into the current interest in reusable packaging. The losers might ignore the ever-important easy-open function or forget product-safety features.

Last month, Packaging Digest’s global audience was most interested in articles about packaging design and new design trends. You, too, can learn from these victors and victims.

Based on page views, here are the top five best-read articles on in February 2020:


5. Valentine’s Day Packaging We Love

February may be the shortest month of the year — even in a Leap Year like 2020 — but it’s one of the longest when you’re waiting for winter to end. As we got closer to one of the month’s happier holidays, we decided to celebrate and share the love with a gallery of 16 packages designed to pull at the heart strings — even for Darth Vader fans (wha?!).

Which one is your favorite??? Are hearts an overdone visual or an absolute necessity?



4. 5 Sustainable Packaging Trends to Look Out for in 2020

When it comes to packaging and sustainability, Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) senior manager Tristanne Davis predicts 2020 will be a year of action and reaction, building on the fast-growing trends seen in the last two years, as subject matter expert Nina Goodrich laid out in her recent article.

Here are five sustainable packaging actions/reactions to keep an eye on moving forward:

1. More companies announce sustainable packaging goals and create action plans.

2. Companies innovate to boost end markets for recycled plastics. 

3. Brands replace substrates to meet recovery goals. 

4. Companies start taking reusable packaging more seriously.

5. Material health becomes more important in packaging.

How many of these are on your sustainability checklist for the year?



3. 6 Food and Beverage Packaging Trends that will Dominate 2020

Another “predictions” article, posted in mid-January, is doing quite well with page views this year. It was the second best-read article from January 2020; and still appears in the top five articles from February 2020.

Here are six packaging design strategies author and expert Pamela Webber thinks brands need to know:

Metamorphoses — This is where one design element goes through a transformation into another, creating an optical illusion that adds visual interest and draws consumers in to view the more intricate details of the packaging.

Maximalism and rich, heavily detailed packaging — More consumers are seeking a sense of opulence, luxury, and extravagance in their products. That’s why maximalism in packaging design is poised to be all the rage in the upcoming year.

Retro-futurism — The combination of design elements evoking nostalgia (retro) and positive anticipation (futurism) can actually work very well together. Packaging designers will create packaging that pairs both futuristic and retro design elements to create remarkable designs that will appeal to a variety of consumers.

Ecologically-aware packaging — Marketers are increasingly driven to seek out more ecological, plastic-free packaging alternatives to current packaging materials.

Transparent packaging — Packaging that shows off a product’s color is already popular within the beauty and skincare sector, and in 2020, Webber expects to see a surge of this trend in food and beverage packaging as well.

Neatly structured layouts — Within the broader package design, selected typography makes for easy readability and a sense of structure that appeals to consumers and allows designers to take a more minimalistic approach to the rest of the design.



2. Most Food Cans No Longer Use BPA in Their Linings

This two-year old article continues to generate high page views. Last month, it held the number three spot in our Top 5 list of best-read articles in January 2020.

This Q&A with Can Manufacturer’s Institute president Robert Budway reveals that at least 90% of today’s food cans have replaced linings that previously contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).

Packaging material safety will continue to matter to companies because health-conscious consumers care — deeply. You may recall that material health was one of the top trends in “5 Sustainable Packaging Trends to Look Out for in 2020.”



1. A Dozen Packaging Designs that Missed the Mark

It’s human nature to be fascinated by failures…as long as they aren’t yours. Several packages that we’ve written about have received negative comments from our global audience. The idea in sharing them is so others will learn from these “mistakes.”

Here are 12 brands that might want to take these criticisms seriously since they come from other packaging professionals:

Lipton tea bag box
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise squeeze bottle
Tropicana multi-serve PET bottle
SeaPak shrimp bag
Conagra’s Healthy Choice Café Steamers
Quaker Overnight Oats
Orbit gum package structure
Hill’s Science Diet
Benadryl topical gel bottle
Walmart compliance pack
Coty/Clairol Nice’n Easy redesign
Old Spice PET bottles

If you would like to defend these or other packages you see on our website, speak up! Packaging designers work hard and could use a pat on the back now and then.

New Food Packaging Graphics Appeal to Lunch-Meat Lovers

New Food Packaging Graphics Appeal to Lunch-Meat Lovers
New graphics for the Land O'Frost Premium line of lunch meats show appetizing sandwiches on the front, while consumers can see the actual product through the clear backs.

Recognizing that lunch meat is only as appetizing as its packaging, Munster, IN-based Land O’Frost is making the products in its flagship Premium Meat line more attractive than ever with redesigned pouch graphics.

Land O’Frost worked with Little Big Brands, White Plains, NY, to execute the new packaging design, which emphasizes appetite appeal via product attributes such as quality, taste, and freshness.

The front of each pouch features a delectable photograph of a sandwich made with the product, plus a call-out stating that the brand uses no by-products, artificial flavors, or added hormones. The brand’s signature blue color frames the brand/product information and graphics.

On the new packaging, only the graphics have changed. The package structure — a reclosable, dual-zipper pouch with a transparent back panel to display the product — remains the same.

The new packaging, expected to hit shelves in July 2020, represents the first significant redesign for the brand since it launched in 1990. Land O’Frost’s Premium Meat line comprises 11 products, including Old World Style Black Forest Ham, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Home-Style Brown Sugar Ham, Roast Beef, and Sliced Hard Salami, all sold in 1-lb pouches.

For concerned consumers, an obvious button on the front-of-pack calls-out what bad stuff is not contained in the product.

Ecommerce/Supply Chain

Next-Gen Ecommerce Packaging is Smart, Customizable, and Reusable

Next-Gen Ecommerce Packaging is Smart, Customizable, and Reusable
Foldable and reusable, The Box offers changeable electronic ink labels, integrated sensors, a built-in internet connection, and a reconfigurable interior.

The basic shipper is reimagined as an ecommerce-enabled plastic box that’s durable, reusable many hundreds of times and a whole lot smarter.

Back in the day, phones were bulky, intended for wired communications only and hung on walls or placed on tables. Now they’re sleek, sophisticated and portable do-everything, go-anywhere interactive devices personally customized for the user.

Creative minds would likewise turn the stodgy corrugated shipper into something a lot more functionally optimized for the exploding ecommerce market. And of course, they must be highly sustainable for reuse.

Say hello to The Box, a dramatic reimagining of the shipping case for the ecommerce supply chain. Made of plastic and durable for reuse—it’s ruggedized for 1,000 trips, the maker says—and after that it can be reconditioned and recycled.

The Box is supplied with changeable, data-carrying electronic ink labels that only uses power to change the information, not to maintain it, which allows for low power consumption in distribution.

Inside is even more smart tech including integrated sensors that continuously measure temperature, humidity and shocks. All data can be accessed at any time via the built-in Internet connection and smartphone app.

Also inside, a configurable interior customizable for every shipment eliminates the need for one-way plastic protective wraps and packing material.

Selected as an Honoree for the 2020 CES Innovation Awards, The Box is the product of the forward-thinking minds of E Ink and LivingPackets. CEO Alexander Cotte of the latter responds to Packaging Digest’s questions.

What are the advantages?
Cotte: We see The Box as the foundation for a circular ecosystem, which means a dramatic shift from one-way deliveries to a more sustainable model. To achieve our goal, we are partnering with companies that become nodes in our network and can benefit from a convenient delivery experience for end consumers or donors.
What’s important for us is that it isn’t designed to simply go back and forth between a single ecommerce company and its customers. Of course, returning goods are a major part of the global ecommerce experience, and with The Box they just take a few moments: Customers just decide if they want to return an item and The Box automatically updates the shipping label on the display with the push of a button.
But returns are just one way of using The Box in the future. People will be able to send goods that they no longer need to good causes which will benefit from their donation. Examples include old electronics or clothes that they no longer need but that can be used by someone else.
We are also exploring and working on more and new ways how to leverage the system, but they are too early to be announced.

Is it purchased or leased?

Cotte: The Box is service, so it’s packaging-as-a-service. This means that ecommerce companies don’t buy our boxes directly, but that they only pay for using them. We have designed our offer around the requirements of the ecommerce market in a way so that ecommerce companies don’t have to pay more compared to their deliveries with traditional cardboard boxes in the basic service package. And companies are able to book additional services on top of the basic delivery experience.
LivingPackets offers The Box as packaging as a service, so we don’t sell The Box directly, but we offer it to companies who want to use it. E Ink provides us with the E Ink display which helps us to bring a new level of convenience to consumers and companies in the global ecommerce industry. With the integrated display from E Ink we can offer services that haven’t been possible in the history of the delivery industry before.
There are multiple patents associated with The Box. Over 35 patents have been granted or are currently pending for approval related to The Box and our ecosystem.

What are the dimensions?  

Cotte: It’s foldable and can be shipped in two sizes. The unfolded dimensions are 588mm x 400mm x 248mm/23 inches x 15.7 inches x 9.8 inches, folded it’s 800x400x93mm/31.5 inches x 23 inches x 3.7 inches. Roughly speaking, the volume can accommodate approximately two shoe boxes when unfolded and one when folded.

It currently weights around 2kg, but we will launch a new version for our commercial launch this year which will be lighter.

What’s the construction?
Cotte: The main material is expanded polypropylene, EPP. The EPP is mixed with classic polypropylene-injected parts for reinforcements, and the combined material remains pure enough to facilitate recycling with EPP.

What products are center-of-target for this?
Cotte: We see The Box as the replacement for everyday shipments in ecommerce. Based on our collaboration with large ecommerce companies, The Box is currently able to handle roughly 80% of all online deliveries.

The Box appears to have applicability beyond ecommerce for business-to-business and closed-loop distribution for sensitive goods, is that an option?

Cotte: We've been approached by a lot of interesting B2B companies for exactly these cases and we are in talks with many of them. We just can’t mention anything specifically yet.

What’s the status?
Cotte: We have run successful pilots with Cdiscount and Orange and we have been approached by many of the major ecommerce companies across Europe and in the US, which we are currently in discussions with. We will announce the next partnerships in the near future.

Baby Ruth Betters Its Packaging to Consumers’ Delight

Baby Ruth Betters Its Packaging to Consumers’ Delight
Ferrero U.S.A. switched to an adhesive lamination film and made it easier for consumers to open their Baby Ruth candy bar.

Improved packaging that better locks in freshness has helped candy company Ferrero U.S.A. earn the coveted 2020 Product of the Year winner within the Candy Bar category for Baby Ruth — voted so by more than 40,000 American shoppers.

“With so much product innovation happening across the industry, we’re excited to be recognized as 2020 Product of the Year, and hear the overwhelmingly positive reaction from our fans,” said Silvia Borla, vice president of marketing, Ferrero Chocolate Brands, Ferrero North America, in a press release. “The overall refresh perfectly exemplifies how we are creating exceptional quality products that answer consumer demand.”

Damon Manak, Baby Ruth brand manager, dives into the packaging details in this exclusive Q&A.

What specific changes did you make to the packaging for Baby Ruth?

Manak: Primary film packaging (Mini/Fun Size/Single/Share) went from an extrusion lamination (which used hot polyethylene to seal the two layers of film) to an adhesive lamination (which uses glue to join the two layers of film). So the package is not as stiff — it’s softer — but has the same barrier properties and shelf life. We find that a softer packaging creates an easier opening, which is preferred by our customers.

The primary film has always used pattern cold seal instead of heat seal to close the packaging on the packaging lines; the two end seals and the back fin seal.

Additionally, the secondary packaging folding carton for Single/Share has more silver printing. The 6-pack/8-pack overwrap always used pattern cold seal to seal the packaging. The overwrap film lamination changed from 1-layer polypropylene to 2-layer polypropylene, with the inside film having metalized polypropylene.

The bags (fun-sized bags) always used heat-seal to seal the packaging with added metalized film to give a metallic look. The bag film changed from polypropylene/adhesive/polyethylene combination to polypropylene/extrusion/metalized polypropylene combination, again to get that metalized look.

What is different about the seals for the newer packaging? Is the film cold sealed?

Manak: Yes, we have always used cold seals on the primary film and are still using a metalized film.  However, we’ve improved the integrity of our seals to be hermetic seals.

Does the wrap have any easy-open features?

Manak: The softer packaging does allow for customers to open the chocolate bar more easily.

Who is your film supplier?

Manak: We prefer not to disclose the name of our supplier.

Were there any changes on the packaging line because of the updated packaging? If so, what were they?

Manak: The only change to the packaging lines were in the bagging operation where the heat seal temperature had to be changed to adjust for the differences in film combination to get proper seals.

Click here to see all the winning products of the 2020 Product of the Year Award.

5 Benefits of Automated Packaging Lines

5 Benefits of Automated Packaging Lines
Photo credit: taa22 –

Upfront costs associated with new equipment and employee training might make some companies wary of adopting automated solutions. However, there can be big benefits to automated packaging — and new technology is making it easier than ever to automate more and more steps of the process.

Here are five benefits of automated packaging lines.

1. Extra (or Improved) Quality Control.

In the past, automation solutions weren’t always robust enough to fully automate the job of overseeing packaging line quality control. Instead, the tedious and repetitive work of inspecting all items was left to human workers.

With the development of new technology — especially machine vision using artificial intelligence (AI), which allows computers to “see” errors like human workers do — this is changing. The designers of some modern quality control systems are going so far as to say that their systems don’t make mistakes and can catch nearly 100% of errors.

Automated quality assurance (QA) systems also work tirelessly, meaning their ability to catch errors won’t wax or wane over the course of a shift. Coupled with other automated equipment in the packaging process, this can mean highly consistent packaging and longer productive hours.

2. Improved Production Speed.

With the right automation solution in place, it’s possible for companies to significantly improve production speed and product throughput. It’s not unusual for an automated bagging machine, for example, to bag items much more safely and several times faster than the average employee.

Automated packaging solutions can also multitask and fold multiple steps of the packaging process — like sealing and labeling — into one single step. This way, these solutions free up not just one employee, but potentially several. As a result, these technologies can both increase speeds and allow packaging companies to shift their staff to tasks that require human workers or simply benefit from the human touch, like shipping, receiving, and picking.

At the same time, these automated systems can also improve the consistency of packaging and reduce the rate of errors introduced during the packaging process.

While increases in speed vary depending on packaging types and processes, all packaging lines can benefit from the constant output offered by automated systems. This frees up labor on the packaging line, potentially reducing labor costs as well. Automated systems can also be used to more consistently pace the packaging line, which can further boost productivity and profitability.

3. Improved Ergonomics and Lowered Risk of Employee Injury.

In manufacturing and packaging, where it’s common for employees to perform highly repetitive tasks over long shifts, it’s not uncommon for employees to suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), sometimes called ergonomic injuries.

These injuries are some of the most common in industry, accounting for one-third of all workplace injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also typically require more than a week of recovery time.

Reducing the amount of repetitive work that employees need to do can naturally decrease their risk of MSDs. Process automation systems are already a great fit for repetitive or tedious tasks because these tasks often benefit from consistency. By swapping machines out for workers in steps of the process that demand highly repetitive motions, it’s possible to both increase productivity and reduce workers’ risk of injury.

4. Reduced Labor Costs.

Right now, with the unemployment rate reaching historic lows in the US and consumer demand continuing to rise, packaging companies are beginning to feel the effects of an increasingly competitive labor market. Workers have more options for employment, driving up wages and ultimately increasing labor costs.

One possible solution to this problem is automation. By automating as much of the packaging line as possible, companies can ensure that workers are only being hired when they are needed, and then remove workers from the packaging process when they aren’t needed.

5. Improved Information Access.

More and more often, designers of packaging line automation systems are making the design of HMIs (human-machine interfaces) a high priority. These improved HMIs can make it easier for workers and managers to access information relevant to individual machines and packaging line processes.

The pivot to better information access also comes at a time when system designers are focusing less on individual machines and more on turnkey and integrated solutions to packaging line automation. As a result, when workers have better access to information via an individual HMI, they may also have access to data and analytics from the entire packaging process, allowing them to make the most informed decisions possible.

Standardized HMIs also make these machines more user-friendly, reducing the training that workers need to operate them successfully.

Automated packaging lines can offer significant benefits for product manufacturers. By taking on the burden of repetitive and tedious tasks, these systems can reduce the risk of ergonomic injury and shift workers to higher-value tasks where they’re more desperately needed. These systems can also boost productivity and improve quality control measures, all of which translates to improved profitability in the long run.