Cannabis Packaging

Chocolates’ Packaging Elevates the Cannabis Experience

Chocolates’ Packaging Elevates the Cannabis Experience
Coda Signature’s award-winning packaging design draws cues from classical music.

Coda Signature’s edibles draw inspiration from classical music and classic chocolate to convey luxury similar to traditional high-end brands like Godiva and Lindt.

What distinguishes Coda Signature’s luxury chocolates from other high-end offerings is that the pouches, bars, and boxed products are cannabis-infused edibles. 

The brand’s packaging is inspired by both classical music and classic chocolate and is similar to traditional chocolate brands like Godiva and Lindt.  Founded in 2015, Coda Signature operates in Colorado, though it was compelled to shift their packaging strategies due to regulations when they launched into California. For example, Coda Signature offers cannabis-infused truffles, and California doesn't allow mixing multiple varieties of a cannabis product in one box; unlike traditional boxes of chocolate, each of Coda Signature's truffle boxes contains one flavor. 

Kevin Roff, Product Development Manager, Coda Signature, discusses the brand’s packaging and design.

Comment on the brand’s history and business proposition.

Roff: Coda Signature seeks to elevate the experience of cannabis the way music elevates life. Inspired by both classical music and classical confections, Coda Signature creates cannabis-infused products full of imagination. The company has established itself as a leading luxury brand with products featuring bold flavor combinations and quality, natural ingredients. 

Coda Signature’s edibles, concentrates, and topicals are available in more than 800 dispensaries across Colorado and California, with planned expansion into other emerging markets in North America. Coda Signature has received dozens of industry awards across all its product categories including the 2019 California Emerald Cup; 2019 High Times Colorado Cannabis Cup; 2019 MJBizDaily Awards finalist in the U.S. Market Leader category; and Leaflink’s 2019 Best-Selling Products list. 

Who’s your target audience?

Roff: Our consumer is looking for a premium-quality product at price parity. They want the same delicious, decadent experience that they would get from a traditional uninfused food brand—but even better.

How many different products/SKUs are in your portfolio? And what’s the pricing?

Roff: In Colorado we have 25 SKUs for edibles, 9 SKUs for topicals and 6 SKUs for concentrates.  In California we have 13 edibles, seven topicals, and six concentrates. Our products include several varieties of chocolate bars; truffles; Fruit Notes gummies; chocolate on a spoon; CO2 cannabis oil and distillate concentrates; bath bombs; and massage oils.

The suggested retail price varies by retail location. 

We have a rigorous process for managing our portfolio. We exit underperforming products and introduce new ones throughout the course of the year.

Comment on your packaging formats.

Roff: We use boxes for our chocolate bars and truffles, and pouches for our Fruit Notes. Our topicals and concentrates also come in boxes. All of our packaging is child-resistant and composed of food-grade materials, with flat surfaces and pull-out sheaths that showcase our visual designs.

Why was this packaging selected?

Roff: We look for packaging that is both beautiful and compliant. Because of state regulations for child-resistant cannabis packaging, Coda Signature developed package elements that meet requirements without sacrificing design. Until cannabis legalization, traditional child-resistant package design just looked like a prescription pill bottle. But as cannabis products have become sophisticated and diverse, brands like Coda Signature innovated compliant packaging to be more refined, with a luxury aesthetic. We’ll continue streamlining our packaging in the future as regulations allow. 

Describe the design and major graphic elements.

Roff: Our packaging all goes back to our brand’s promise to delight the senses, and the packaging is the first impression we make in retail stores. The background is black and white—and then we let the colors of the natural ingredients featured in our products shine through. Each of our packages tells a story about the product experience within, whether it be the nostalgic comfort of coffee and doughnuts or the bold excitement of jalapeño and pineapple. 

What was a packaging development challenge?

Roff: Coda Signature’s packaging must strike the balance between safety and simplicity. How do we create packaging that meets regulatory compliance and child-resistant measures, while conveying beauty and elegance? Our solution was to go beyond expectations and develop packaging that is just as ingenious as the products inside it.

Can you credit any design firms or any packaging suppliers?

Roff: Our pre-press partner is the Ohio-based firm Gravity. They are amazing.

What’s not apparent that you can point out?

Roff: In cannabis, packaging is always a key part of the entire product development process. It requires more behind-the-scenes planning than people realize, and it takes a lot of creativity and agility to bring about the beautiful final product that you see in stores.

Anything else to mention?

Roff: The infused-products sector is becoming increasingly competitive, and the right packaging can set apart the good brands from the great. Our thoughtful packaging design is a big part of why Coda Signature has resonated with our customers across multiple states, and it will be even more important as we expand to new markets.


How is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Packaging Job?

Please let us know how you are doing and if you have any advice for your packaging peers by taking this quick poll.


Ecommerce/Supply Chain

Food Packagers Address Pandemic-Driven Risk to Supply Chains

Consumers should not be too concerned about packaging transmitting the coronavirus, despite reports that the virus can survive for a day or more on plastic and paperboard materials. Photo credit: stevecuk -

The COVID-19 Strategies for Managing Food Supply Chain Risk webinar, sponsored by FoodChain ID, included information on maintaining food-safety certifications if a company’s regularly scheduled audit is coming up in the next few weeks or months.

For companies in that position, several of the major Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certification Program Owners have already made provisions for six-month certificate extensions. Prior to granting such an extension, the certifying body may conduct a remote audit of the company and will perform a risk assessment based on information from the company regarding how its business has changed since COVID-19.

For example, will the company need to use alternative manufacturing sites? Will it need to identify and approve new suppliers? What has it done to address such issues?

Supply chain disruption or additions may necessitate approving a new supplier location without an on-site audit. Note that all GFSI standards include an “emergency approval” clause, for the approval of new suppliers during situations like the current one.

“The American public is relying on us to continue to provide them with food, and importantly, safe food. So while we’re dealing with all these other moving parts — new risks, new requirements — we have to maintain our basic food-safety requirements,” said David Acheson, M.D., president and CEO of The Acheson Group.

Although the FDA has postponed routine surveillance inspections because of the pandemic, it will continue with “mission-critical” for cause inspections. Recalls will continue to occur, as needed.

As for COVID-19 and food, “the approach that FDA has taken in this regard, which is reflective of other regulatory agencies across the world, is that this virus is not being spread by food or by packaging,” Acheson said.

The virus will not grow on food or surfaces, he noted, but it can survive on paperboard for 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for two to three days. Most cleaning and disinfecting chemicals used in manufacturing plants will destroy the virus.

Addressing the seemingly conflicting messages of the virus being able to live for a time on packaging but not being spread by it,Kevin Kenny, regulatory attorney and chief operating officer of Decernis, said: “The primary risk around spreading this virus is not the packaging. It’s not even the food. It’s the social interaction.”

Packaging, Kenny said, poses “a very low risk compared to standing in line behind somebody who is shedding [virus].”

Acheson concurred, adding that “packaging is not the place to focus. We know the virus will survive on it … but the virus is not going to [jump] off the packaging and into your eyes or your nose or your mouth. It’s going to die on the package. It’s not going to multiply on the package.

“Don’t fear handling packaging, but do fear not washing your hands after you’ve handled the package and touching your nose. That’s where you can break the transmission. … This is about breaking the transmission chain.

“The key thing is, if you’ve touched something that you deem to be a high risk, or you don’t even know, wash your hands before you do anything else. You’ve handled it, wash your hands. You’ve handled something else, wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.”

Acheson also emphasized the importance of protecting the work force from COVID-19. As an expert in food-safety best practices and an infectious-disease specialist, he advised companies to focus on the primary methods of transmission to thwart viral spread among their employees.

In addition to frequent hand washing, tactics include use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); social distancing; use of hand sanitizers; and not touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth.

When employees get sick at work, it’s essential to immediately isolate them and get them home. “Removing them from the work force, obviously in a kind and understanding way, is important,” Acheson said.

It’s also important to determine where those employees have been working in the past 48 hours, when they had no symptoms but were transmitting the virus to others. The company should identify the sick person’s close contacts at work and send them home, as well, to self-isolate for 14 days.

Companies can reduce risk by reconsidering their shift structure, segregating groups, and practicing social distancing, plus hourly touchpoint cleaning of common areas. They should also develop a visitor policy, excluding all visitors other than essential ones and providing wellness checks for necessary visitors.

Finally, to protect food and agricultural workers from citations for violating stay-at-home orders, employers should give them a letter stating that they are part of critical infrastructure.

“There are several states that are imposing spot fines,” Acheson said, so provide workers with “documentation from you, on your letterhead, with a contact number, so that they can feel confident that if they get pulled over, they’re going to be okay.”

Bottom line, companies should plan for a business disruption lasting at least the next three to four months. The situation is rapidly changing. To stay on top of it, brand owners and packagers can visit FoodChain ID’s regularly updated COVID-19 Updates & Resources page.

Packaging Peers Offer COVID-19 Advice

Packaging Peers Offer COVID-19 Advice
If you are now working from home, stay connected to your team by using video conferencing. Photo credit: Rido –

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting nearly all Americans personally. Professionally, the impact is different for various markets and jobs. How are packaging professionals faring? During the last two weeks of March 2020, 66% of respondents to our poll said their job in packaging was slightly affected, with some disruptions.

Packaging Digest issued its quick two-question poll in mid-March:

1. Has your job in packaging been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

2. Do you have any advice or comments for your packaging peers?

The results to question one — for the last two weeks in March 2020 — appear in the graph below.

About two-thirds of respondents to our poll say their job has been disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How will your job be affected moving forward?

How will these answers change as the self-quarantine continues for the next 30 days? Take the poll and let us know. It will remain open and everyone is invited/encouraged to share their thoughts and advice again, even if you answered already. We will be analyzing the results — from the next couple weeks only — in mid-April; and will take another snapshot with results of the final two weeks at the end of the month.

Regarding question two, advice given by your packaging peers from the poll’s same late-March time period ranges from rational to inspirational:

“If working from home, use this time to research packaging innovations that your company may not be exploring. One innovative packaging idea can help your company exceed and stand out after we return to business-as-usual eventually.”

“Catch up on all those irritating tasks you never have time for. And take the time to really nail down the details of your projects.”

“Live with faith, not fear. Also, for everyone who has ever questioned what a degree in packaging is, it is literally taking front and center of the world. How we come together to solve this can help us solve many things like refugee camp crisis etc. Afterall, packaging was started as a major after WWII, am I right? Innovate!”

“It’s gonna be tough out there for a while and everyone will be hit differently — more work, less work, no work. Please help those that you can and keep your ears and eyes open for your fellow packaging friends. Many companies have recently frozen positions [or] are reevaluating all open positions, so be patient.”

“Packaging is wildly important right [now].”

“Care about others! Follow local recommendation to protect colleagues [and] family. Consider your supplier by releasing pressure regarding timings.”

“Learn to work from home without distractions. Get up and dress as if going to the office and shut yourself in a room to work. Just watch your ergonomics.”

“Video conference and stay connected with people 1-1 (also using video). Very helpful for clear communication.”

“Stay in touch with colleagues and customers. Now is the time to deepen the relationship.”


“When you visit your customers, have your masks, gloves, glasses used while keeping distances.”

This comment shows how scary and challenging it is for some colleagues right now:

“It’s day by day for us. Trying to stay positive.”

We feel for you. Hang in there! To end on a high note, here is some encouragement from another respondent:

“Keep a positive outlook! These days seem like they may be lasting forever but we WILL get through this and we will all be better for it!”

Thank you to all who participated!