Packaging Design

Packaging Fail: The Double Typo Box

Packaging Digest Ab roller box #PackagingFail

Imperfections are part of the human condition. However, when we come across flawed packaging, it’s surprising.

In extreme situations, we may wonder how the fail became, to quote a former editor of mine, egregious.

I knew when I first heard it that it referred to something that wasn’t good, but to be honest, I looked it up the first time he used it: e·gre·gious 1. outstandingly bad; shocking.

For editors, typos are the bane of our craft. Which leads me to recount a recent internet purchase from an Amazon vendor that yielded a pair of packaging fails that qualify as egregious not once, but twice. Before I take it to task, I want to point out the product itself is good. The offending package was a printed microflute box for an ab roller from N1 Fit that sported two major typos of common words. What confirms these as an egregious #PackagingFail is that they appear in large print as part of the back-of-box callouts of the ab roller’s major attributes.

#PackagingFail Abs Box Back Panel tableYou can see in the photos exactly what they got wrong; these are words 5th graders can spell.

It’s mystifying how these obvious misspellings could be missed except for a printed clue on the package: Designed and Developed in the U.S.A. Made in China.

Ironically, there’s an abundance of secondary copy before, between, and after the offending words that appear typo-free, though there is a grammatical error in the same section as the typos (can you spot it?).

I’m also generally uncomfortable pointing out the flaws of others without pointing out my own; I’ve certainly made dozens of typos that have appeared in stories over the years. That's one reason I’ve embraced the print-to-digital conversion that made corrections after publishing instantaneous and easy. Printed typos may have years of shelf life.

The most egregious misspelling I recall making was in the 1990s during my first stint with Packaging Digest. It was of course in a headline, and I can still see it clearly in my mind’s eye.

The feature was about three Russian packaging innovations for which I used the word Troika in the headline, which refers to a group or team of three. I thought it appropriate and clever, but I failed to confirm the word's spelling. As did my editors. It ended up printed in permanent ink on a tabloid-sized page as Trioka. I only realized the fail after I received the print issue and checked the story and only then thought to confirm the spelling. I may have gasped aloud from my cube.

Over time that turned into amusement, and eventually I could laugh at my mistake. Isn’t it said that whoever laughs at his own mistakes never laughs alone? If not, then I just made that up.

We learn from our mistakes and so did I: I have not mentioned that incident or used that word in an article until now. Since that gaffe I have frequently rechecked spellings — first and foremost headlines — and welcome rather than rail against spellcheck software.

And in one amazing coincidence of timing, this morning I received an email from Troika Systems.

We welcome hearing from you about any packaging fails or misfires you come across, drop us a note.

Lastly, few mistakes are permanently engraved in stone or metal, though there are exceptions to every rule like this inspiring quote engraved on an aluminum bar purchased from a second-hand store that I keep near my desk:

Rick LingleAluminum Bar Typo #PackagingFail



New FDA Rule on Labeling of Fermented and Hydrolyzed Foods

Photo credit: Stephen – Gluten-free-label-Stephen-AdobeStock_169426703-featured.jpeg

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule to establish compliance requirements for fermented and hydrolyzed foods, or foods that contain fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients, and that bear the “gluten-free” claim. The rule pertains to foods such as soy sauce, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese and green olives. Distilled foods, such as distilled vinegars, are also included in the final rule.

“These new compliance requirements for labeling a product ‘gluten-free’ will protect individuals with celiac disease, an incurable, hereditary disorder that millions of Americans, including myself, live with,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The FDA’s final rule helps to ensure common products labeled ‘gluten-free’ really are gluten-free, equipping consumers to make the best choices for their health and their families.”

The final rule adds compliance requirements for hydrolyzed or fermented foods that use the “gluten-free” labeling claim, since gluten breaks down during these processes and currently available analytical methods cannot be used to determine if these products meet the “gluten-free” definition. The rule requires manufacturers of these food products to make and keep records providing adequate assurance that: the food meets the definition of “gluten-free” before fermentation or hydrolysis; the manufacturer has adequately evaluated the potential for cross-contact with gluten during the manufacturing process; and if necessary, measures are in place to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process. The rule also discusses how FDA will verify compliance for distilled products. The definition of “gluten-free,” established in 2013, is not changed by this new final rule.

“The FDA continues to work to protect people with celiac disease, which impacts at least 3 million Americans,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “The agency has taken a number of steps on this front by first establishing a standardized definition of ‘gluten-free,’ and now by continuing to work to ensure manufacturers are keeping the products that are labeled with this claim gluten-free.”

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley that may cause adverse health effects in people with celiac disease. For those with celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of people with celiac disease to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature and intestinal cancers.

Nestlé Waters Makes a Bigger Splash in rPET

NWNA Nestle Waters rPET brands and rPET bottles

Nestlé Waters North America took a deeper plunge into recycled PET with a mid-July announcement that three more regional brands in its national portfolio of packaged water will join Poland Spring in using rPET content.

For many years 100% recyclable in PET bottles, the company’s regional brands’ packaging — Ozarka 100% Natural Spring Water, Deer Park 100% Natural Spring Water, and Zephyrhills 100% Natural Spring Water — will all be made using 100% recycled plastic and be 100% recyclable.

With the expansion, nearly 60% of all households in the U.S. will have access to one of the company’s bottled waters in 100% recycled packaging.

Key takeaways:

  • The packaging conversion for these three brands means that NWNA has doubled the amount of rPET used since 2019 across its U.S. domestic portfolio to 16.5%;
  • Brings the company closer to using 25% rPET across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021 and 50% rPET by 2025.
  • Using recycled plastic can help keep it out of landfills, waterways and oceans, and reduces greenhouse gases by 67% compared to using new PET, according to a 2018 report from Association of Plastic Recyclers.
  • All brands will include a new message on the labels of the 20oz, 700mL, 1L and 1.5L bottles, stating they are both 100% recyclable and are made from 100% recycled plastic.
  • Labels will also include a Quick Response (QR) code that allows people to scan and track the journey of the water they’re drinking, as well as the bottle.

In 2019, Poland Spring collaborated with The Recycling Partnership to launch the first Instagram recycling hotline to help Americans understand what is recyclable in their communities.

NWNA was also the first beverage company to add How2Recycle information on the labels of its major U.S. brands, reminding consumers to empty the bottle and replace the cap before recycling.

NWNADavid Tulauskas, VP and CSO, NWNA

An interview with David Tulauskas, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer, NWNA, yielded the following highlights and details.

rPET sources are tight.

There is not enough supply for us and other beverage manufacturers to use rPET packaging for all SKUs of all of products.

Like other beverage manufacturers, we have made commitments to increase the use of recycled content throughout our portfolio. This includes our commitments to 25% rPET across our U.S. domestic still water portfolio by 2021 and 50% rPET by 2025. To achieve this, there needs to be a robust and stable supply of food-grade recycled content. Unfortunately, less than 30% of all plastic bottles are recycled and many recovered beverage containers are being down-cycled and used in non-food contact applications versus being made back into beverage containers.

NWNANWNA Ozarka Label Closeup

To create a continuous supply of recycled plastic, there needs to be a broad, collective focus by industry, government, and NGOs to address critical issues related to infrastructure, collection, policy, consumer education and development of end-markets for recycled materials. We are encouraged by the accelerated collaboration among these groups, and we will continue to work with them to help increase the use of recycled content in packaging, encourage packaging design that is compatible with the recycling system, improve the recycling infrastructure and curbside access and educate consumers about the impact they can make by recycling.

Recycled plastic does have a slight color.

However, we only use food-grade materials that meet our high-quality standards.

As for price, the raw materials used in the making of virgin plastic come primarily from oil, which has seen record lows as a result of the pandemic. Typically, the market price of rPET is often higher than that of virgin PET, but the premium can be even greater when the market conditions drive the cost of crude oil down, which can challenge the commitments made by brand owners. This is an investment we prioritize for the business, and we honor the commitments we’ve made to our suppliers as part of our responsibility to minimize our impact to the planet and strive for a waste-free future.

There's no intention to change the suggested retail price.

Conversion is harder than you may think.

Converting packaging from virgin PET to rPET is an important step – but is more complicated than it may sound.

It’s not business as usual and if it were easy to do, every company would be doing it right now. It requires a totally different approach to our supply chain. This includes longer-term contracts with a variety of suppliers; a collaborative approach to transition suppliers’ production lines to make food-grade rPET and to meet NWNA’s very rigorous quality standards; and changes to our own production process. As more beverage companies make this transition to using more rPET, it will help more suppliers to see the opportunity and will help create the demand for more supply. We’re not only re-imagining our own business, but also helping the industry to move toward a waste-free future.

Conversion to rPET started last year and included equipment adjustments.

We started to regularly use rPET in California with our Arrowhead brand, where the majority of our bottles have used 50% rPET for several years. We started to convert our first regional brand to 100% rPET in 2019 with Poland Spring. We took the learnings of implementing rPET in the supply chain and manufacturing process and applied them to the other rPET line conversions. For example, we upgraded some of our equipment to help ensure quality products arrive intact to consumers and so that the challenges of running 100% rPET do not have a significant adverse impact on our overall production line performance.

NWNANWNA Ozarka Bottles Group

As a result, we have been able to manage the conversions of our production lines at a faster pace in most factories following our initial implementation for Poland Spring. Building the competence and having additional factory resources that everyone can learn from has been a very valuable contribution.

Recycled content aligns corporate action with consumer values.

Using recycled plastic in our packaging aligning with our consumers’ values and expectations of corporate action on important environmental and social issues.

For example, we are breathing new life into existing materials, reducing the need for new plastic and helping the beverage industry move toward a waste-free future. Using recycled plastic reduces greenhouse gases by 67% compared to using new plastic and supports the EPA’s estimated 757,000 jobs in recycling and reuse activities in the U.S. Furthermore, our brands can leverage our progress in using recycled content through various marketing activities. This summer, Ozarka will be launching a TV, digital and social media campaign this summer to inform Texans of the new rPET bottles. Understanding that bottles need to be recycled in order to create bottles with other bottles, Zephyrhills will be launching limited edition labels that encourage consumers to recycle through a bold message stating, ‘I’m Not Trash! I’m 100% Recyclable.’ This message will accompany the “100% recycled” message on the applicable bottle sizes

rPET proves that a circular plastics economy is possible.

Our 100% rPET bottles provide tangible proof that recycling works and the circular economy for plastics is achievable. We are focused on doing what we can to close the loop.

NWNA rPET social tile splashWith four regionally distributed brands now offering bottles made with 100% rPET and three nationally distributed 100% rPET bottles, we have demonstrated our commitment to creating an end market for recycled plastic.

NWNA was the first beverage company to add How2Recycle information on the labels of our major U.S. brands, and in 2019, we collaborated with The Recycling Partnership to launch an Instagram recycling hotline to help Americans understand what is recyclable in their communities.

As a complement to the Instagram recycling hotline, we added QR codes on our labels, allowing consumers to follow the journey of their water, including what to do with the bottle when empty. We support recycling infrastructure through indirect investments, such as our $6 million investment in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund and we advocate for pragmatic policy, including minimum recycled content bills and the modernization of bottle deposit bills.

We’re also exploring alternative packaging options and thinking beyond the bottle to find new technologies and delivery systems that help us minimize environmental impact.

Ultimately, everyone has a role play. We are encouraged by the progress made already and will continue to work with industry, government and NGOs to help move toward a waste-free future.

6 Keys to Digital Agility in Automation

Catalytic Feature Catalytic Manufacturing.jpg

Achieving the adoption of company-wide automation creates digital agility that can cuts costs, eliminate errors, improve productivity, and increase revenue. Digital agility is especially important amid COVID disruptions since it allows manufacturers to quickly pivot and meet the moment. The core of creating digital agility is the effective use of data.


Most smart manufacturing tools gather data. Using that data effectively is the key to automation success.

According to a recent McKinsey study, “Industrial companies are making forays into digital manufacturing, but many have yet to see bottom-line results from their efforts.” Turning automation deployment into measurable results depends on getting a wide range of issues right. One of them is the ability to use data effectively.

We turned to Catalytic – a company that provides a platform to help companies manage manufacturing data – to find out what it takes to use data effectively. The company works on the premise that manufacturers need to get six digital processes right in order to get the most from their advanced automation systems.

  1. Reviewing Data Quality

The first principle of digital effectiveness is to make sure the data is not corrupted on its path from acquisition to analytics. “Improving downstream operations begins with clean data. When data is incorrect, missing, or outdated, a manual review and tedious rework are required,” Sean Chou, co-founder, and CEO of Catalytic, told Design News. “Effective automation needs to continuously review data proactively correct any inconsistencies, allowing all downstream processes that interact with that data to operate at peak efficiency.”

  1. Identifying Gaps, Omissions, and Duplicates

Part of the process for ensuring clean data involves systematically catching potential data problems. “Automated omission and error checks can be built into any automated process and they provide two pivotal benefits,” said Chou. “First, they free employees from spending hours on redundant manual reviews, while also eliminating the risk of additional human error. Second, they ensure that the quality of the data improves downstream. That, in turn, improves the efficiency of the processes reliant on that clean data.”

  1. Triggering a Process to Fix the Issue

Issues in the system can quickly become bottlenecks that can stymie data analytics or even production. The system needs to be able to identify problems and then assign the solution to a particular person or group.

“Triggering an automated process to track and manage issues brings visibility to potential roadblocks, streamlining cross-team coordination and minimizing downtime,” said Chou. “Whenever a new issue is identified, it can be automatically assigned to the proper person based on business function, expertise, or priority. This avoids multiple handoffs and wasted time. After an issue has been assigned to an owner, an automated process can keep all relevant parties updated on the status and estimated completion date.”

  1. Sending Smart Web Forms

A Web Form is a web application framework supported by Microsoft ASP.NET. These applications are reusable components that can be programmed to respond to events. They can be used to assess how data should be processed as it’s acquired. “Not only are smart Web Forms a way to collect survey data, they give us the ability to insert human intelligence, judgment, and exception handling into any process,” said Chou. “Plus, smart web forms streamline process communication, eliminating the need for email, while also gathering data along the way to report and analyze efficiency. In the end, this improves visibility into a process, making organizations smarter about how they work and collaborate.”

  1. Storing Customer, Vendor, and Employee Responses in a Database

Surprisingly, feedback from often stakeholders gets lost in the mix. Sometimes it doesn’t go to the right person; sometimes it doesn’t go anywhere. Yet this information can be crucial to successful automation processes. Manufacturers can set up systems to make sure this feedback gets to the right person in a timely manner. “Customer, vendor, and employee feedback provides invaluable insight into the health of a company’s processes and customer relationships. Sadly, these insights are often lost in a black hole of survey responses,” said Chou. “By storing them in a database, they are easily accessible for automated and continuous analysis. Automation can also quickly distribute those responses to the right people — turning insights into action.”

  1. Organizing Data to Make a Case for Continuous Improvement

One aspect of the automation process that often gets lost is the concept of – and the commitment to – continuous improvement. One plant manager put up a banner that read, “Remember, This Is About Continuous Improvement!” In all the discussions about new technology and all its advantages, sometimes the basic reason for the automation deployment gets lost.

“When a process feels broken, it can be difficult to pinpoint where the breakdown is occurring. Using smart web forms to gather data and store it in an accessible database makes identifying trends and areas for improvement simple,” said Chou. “Management teams can then focus their process improvement efforts and quickly help their team acclimate to new challenges.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cybersecurity. For 10 years, he was the owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Paper or Plastic? For CPGs, the Answer Increasingly Is Paperboard

Coca-Cola European Partners Paperboard-based Cancollar

Diageo isn’t the only consumer packaged goods (CPG) company to announce a paperboard-based “plastic-free” bottle. Unilever, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola have all made moves to increase their use of paperboard and reduce plastics in their packaging.

“We believe in tackling plastic waste through innovation and collaboration,” said Unilever Chief R&D Officer Richard Slater. “We are going to halve our use of virgin plastic at Unilever, reducing our use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes in the next five years. Joining forces [with companies like Diageo] to develop and test paper bottles is an incredibly exciting step forward, and we’re delighted to be working together to tackle one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.”

PepsiCo also announced last month that it has joined the consortium of global consumer goods companies, including Unilever, to further develop and scale the world’s first recyclable paper bottle, initially developed by Diageo and Pilot Lite. Simon Lowden, Chief Sustainability Officer, PepsiCo, said: “Innovative solutions and partnerships are critical to driving meaningful progress toward a circular economy. The Pulpex consortium is well positioned to deliver sustainable packaging at scale and across industries, having an impact beyond what any organization could achieve alone. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

PepsiCo’s announcement stated that the company is working on “innovative solutions with peers pre-competitively through partnerships like this with Pulpex.” PepsiCo is also collaborating with the Carbios Consortium on enzymatic recycling, NaturALL Bottle Alliance on the development of a renewable bottle, and Danimer Scientific on compostable and bio-based flex films. PepsiCo said it expects to test its own branded paper bottles, based on Pulpex Ltd.’s design and technology, in 2021.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) announced on Aug. 11 the company’s introduction of CanCollar, an innovative paperboard packaging solution for multipack cans in Spain. CanCollar will replace the current Hi-cone plastic solution, “saving more than 18 tonnes of plastic annually,” said Coca-Cola’s press release.

The paperboard-based CanCollar will be introduced in Spain later this year. Image courtesy Coca-Cola
European Partners.

Innovative packaging design is a core principle of Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste strategy. Through its collaboration with WestRock, an Atlanta, GA–based company that produces paperboard packaging solutions, CCEP will start to use the CanCollar paperboard can ring technology in the Balearic Islands in November of this year. CanCollar is certified by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), an alliance of national certification systems.

CCEP has invested €2.6 million in its Barcelona plant to support this initiative. The installation of WestRock’s CanCollar Fortuna manufacturing equipment will enable multipack cans to be grouped in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, with a process that does not require the use of glue or adhesives, said Coca-Cola’s announcement.

Joe Franses, Vice President of Sustainability at CCEP, said: “The agreement with WestRock exemplifies our clear commitment to reduce plastic in our secondary packaging. By the end of 2020, we will have removed more than 4,000 tonnes of hard-to-recycle plastic from our secondary packaging in Western Europe. It’s through collaborating on innovative packaging solutions like CanCollar that we are able to do this.” 

These releases always highlight the fact that these new paperboard products are certified by the PEFC to allow us to take comfort in the fact that the trees being used for these new paper bottles, can rings, and other products come from well-managed forests. No trees were harmed in the making of this product.

It’s true that forests are growing at unprecedented rates, according to satellite photos, thanks to global warming and a slight increase in CO2, which promotes plant growth. If deforestation continues at a rapid pace, however, that could create a problem for forests, even those that are well-managed.

Once again, I have to use the great quote from Jon Huntsman. When I asked him about McDonald’s decision to replace EPS plastic clamshells with paperboard, he replied: “Use old dinosaurs, not new trees.”

Packaging Design

3 Packages That Should be Compostable

Photo credit: Alana Harris on Unsplash SPC-compostable-packaging-alana-harris-TcpYjs6qF9o-unsplash-featured.jpg

A growing number of companies have set ambitious goals to make 100% of their packaging recoverable by 2025. As brands ramp up their packaging sustainability initiatives, many are curious whether compostable packaging can be a tool to meet these targets.

Compostable packaging is designed to break down in composting facilities in a short amount of time without leaving behind any toxic residue. In most markets, it must also meet relevant standards and certifications for compostability. Before pursuing compostable design and certification, it can be helpful to consider whether it’s the right fit for your product’s package.

Here are three types of packaging that can be effectively designed to be compostable:


1. Packaging for prepared food in grocery stores and foodservice outlets.

Foodservice packaging for restaurants, cafeterias, closed loop venues, and grocery store prepared food bars is the most natural fit for compostable packaging. It includes packaging like takeout containers, salad bowls, taco trays, soup bowls, and the associated napkins, cutlery, and lids. That’s because this type of packaging is covered in food residue and leftovers — and goes hand-in-hand with food consumption.

While large amounts of food contaminate packaging recycling streams, food scraps are exactly what composters are looking for. Diverting food scraps out of the landfill prevents methane emissions and creates finished compost, a beneficial soil amendment that helps pull carbon from the atmosphere.

Designing this category of packaging to be compostable helps guide food scraps towards the composting bin, rather than the recycling bin or the landfill. It eliminates the need for consumers to sort food-contact items into different bins, which they are apt to do incorrectly. And the compostable packaging itself can be a helpful source of carbon for composting facilities as they produce compost.


2. Food-contact packaging that is not readily recyclable.

Today, many food items in a grocery store are in packaging that is not readily recyclable. Think of cuts of meat, frozen food, and cheese — these are just three examples of entire categories of products that are mostly in non-recyclable films, lined paper trays, or foam packaging. Usually, they are not readily recyclable in curbside or store drop-off programs because of the design choices of the material and format, and because the packaging is often covered in food residue.

While this is a less common application for compostable packaging, it can be a new frontier for forward-thinking brands. Take string cheese wrappers. Typically made of plastic film, these wrappers have limited recovery options, except as part of future innovations in advanced/chemical recycling.

Meanwhile, there are bioplastics on the market that could replace this film with a compostable option. Any leftover cheese would be easy for the consumer to compost instead of landfill. This new compostable food-contact packaging would first need to be properly designed, certified for compostability, and clearly labeled for consumers.

However, if approached correctly, compostability may be the right choice for many types of food-contact, food-soiled grocery store packaging that is not recyclable today.


3. Fiber packaging that becomes wet.

Finally, some fiber packaging that becomes wet may be better suited towards composting than recycling. Consider fiber-based ecommerce packaging used as dividers or holders in meal kits or grocery delivery. If the packaging becomes soggy or soiled from the elements, condensation from cold gel packs, or from the products inside, it may no longer be recyclable.

This material is often uncoated corrugated paperboard, which is readily compostable. But consumers will need to first understand whether they should recycle or compost this packaging. In these situations, companies should consider labeling their packaging in a way that communicates a hierarchy of decisions. For example, the How2Recycle and How2Compost labels can help educate consumers to recycle the item if it’s clean and dry, or compost it if it’s wet or food-soiled.


For these three categories of packaging, compostability is a promising recovery option. Although composting infrastructure may not be widespread, these items stand a chance to be composted in a growing number of communities. As brands design packaging for both future goals and future waste systems, they can think about compostability as a recovery solution for foodservice, food-contact, and soiled packaging.


AI Helps Deliver the Food Label Clarity Consumers Want

SpoonGuru SpoonGuru labeling young couple comparing labels stock image

A recent study found that only 28% of US shoppers admitted to having a good understanding of the salt, fat and sugar content in their foods, which signals there is an overwhelming number of Americans who lack awareness of the nutritional value of what they eat (see study). While some may argue that making the effort to know what ingredients make up your meal is down to the consumer, others believe the responsibility lies with manufacturers.

From immune-boosting foods to products that are responsibly sourced, consumers are more invested than ever about making choices with positive impacts for both their health and wellness, as well as the environment. The consumer demand for transparency has been driving change in the industry for years with some manufacturers going above and beyond to keep consumers informed. However, in the wake of COVID-19, more needs to be done.

Here are some practical steps manufacturers and retailers can apply to aid clarity and keep consumers informed.

Lift the lid on labeling.

In 2013, the horsemeat scandal (revealing undeclared ingredients had been mislabeled as beef) caused consumer outcry and led to an increased focus on standards and transparency by food safety authorities. The fallout from the scandal unsurprisingly had a negative impact on consumer trust for food producers and retailers and led to a greater demand for improvements.

Seven years on and the continued need to rebuild consumer confidence is still on the agenda for the retail sector, especially as shoppers’ tastes are continuously evolving as dietary requirements are changing. To name a few, consumers are searching for products that are meat-free, dairy-free, free-from, or organic.

Giving shoppers the power to easily read and understand what they are putting into their bodies is fundamental to help them manage their health and wellness goals. Many grocery retailers are internationally using the traffic light system to alert consumers of any high-intake ingredients, along with showing the fat, sugar, salt, and fat content etc. However, this will evolve in the future where shoppers will be looking at products that can help fight diseases - or could potentially increase the risk of sickness. For example, products that have low nutritional content that is high in sugar, saturated fats and are processed.

SpoonGuruSpoonGuru Image of close-up reading label basket stock image

Pursue personalized packaging.

With consumers more conscious than ever about germs, smart packaging is not something to be overlooked. The purpose of packaging has always been to protect and preserve the food within its contents. However, with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) there’s a real opportunity for retailers to use smart packaging technology to improve food safety.

By leveraging consumer data collected via radio frequency identification (RFID) applications on product packaging, brands can work with retailers to help consumers overcome challenges faced when grocery shopping. The data can be used to create custom products in smaller batches to meet unique dietary needs, particularly as consumers continue to drop universal diets for individual ones and many look to food as medicine.

Predicted to grow to $52 billion by 2025, the smart packaging market has the potential to transform and enhance the consumer experience for the better through personalization. To successfully take ownership of the relationship with customers, retailers must use data collected from every consumer click to create meaningful experiences that go beyond the purchase of a specific product. An example of how this can be achieved is with the introduction of personalized reward systems that produce discounts, coupons, or loyalty points to incentivize shoppers to return.

Improve food discovery.

Research that looked into the eating habits of Americans found that 74% of people want to lead healthier lives, but only 1 in 4 believe grocery retailers are doing enough to support their health. Meanwhile, another study revealed overwhelming support (86%) for the notion that retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity. In addition, the data unveiled a general feeling among U.S. consumers for both on-trade and off-trade retailers to take more accountability.

With the pandemic driving an increase in online grocery sales, there is even more of a need from shoppers who can’t easily access customer service in-store, to be shown a variety of online products that can help with their individual health requirements. Retailers can aid consumers with healthy food search and discovery online through the use of tools which help to find the right foods for their specific needs.

New technology which champions personalization is available to retailers to help consumers filter faster, which aids convenience and garners happier customers. The use of such tools promote and support significant increases in conversion rates, basket size, return rates, and customer lifetime value.

Learn how to "chat" health with customers.

Another way AI can be used to keep consumers informed when grocery shopping is through the use of chatbots. According to one study, 79% of surveyed consumers revealed live chat is best for customer service. Smart chatbots, which imitate human responses in real-time, can be used to communicate with consumers and provide them with information about products, healthy recipes, and implement actions such as adding items to carts upon request.

Chatbots can also be put in place to support information campaigns to educate consumers and help retailers sell products. For example, if customers consistently have questions about the nutritional value of products, bots can be activated to deal with such requests, which also helps reduce the workload of customer service agents. The data collected from frequently asked and answered questions can then be used to help both retailers and manufacturers better understand consumer demand.

For consumers who prefer human interaction, in-store nutritionists can help support their wellness goals. Taking on this one-to-one advice works to promote retailers’ desires to offer outstanding customer service and consumers a personalized experience.

Pandemic-proof partnerships.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed many aspects of life, and one area its impacted significantly is the importance of good health. Research by Unilever has shown that grocery shoppers are increasingly purchasing products that help boost their immune system, which is a trend that manufacturers and retailers should look to amplify in the journey to offer spotless transparency.

As diets diversify and consumers adopt exclusion diets — whether due to allergies or intolerances or simply a lifestyle choice — food manufacturers and retailers need to work together to cater to the highly educated consumer force who are searching for more than just flavor, texture, and cost-effectiveness.

Markus Stripf is CEO and Co-Founder of Spoon Guru, which harnesses artificial intelligence to improve food discovery.




Packaging Design

On-Pack Instructions Should be Easy to Read, Right?

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” This famous quote from the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman aptly describes the #PackagingFail this mom and Life Coach posted on Twitter.

The heating instructions on this box of taquitos get mangled the instant you open the package via the perf strip. The packaging designer might get credit for adding an easy-open feature but … no, forget that. This goof makes the entire package a failure. Wouldn’t you agree?

@Shondratasha might have contacted the company to complain to them directly — if only the phone number and web address hadn’t gotten ripped off, too. Dig in the garbage to retrieve the missing middle or just don’t buy again? We can all take an educated guess.



Flexicon Introduces Carbon Steel Flexible Screw Conveyor

Image courtesy of Flexicon Corp. Screw_Conveyor_FLEXICON.JPG

Flexicon introduces a new base model 1450 flexible screw conveyor with a 4½-in. O.D. polymer conveyor tube and a low-cost carbon steel floor hopper and discharge housing. 


Round, square, flat, or beveled flexible screws in lengths from 10 to 40 ft are offered to convey virtually any free- and non-free-flowing bulk material, including products that pack, cake, seize, smear, or break apart.

The only moving part contacting material is the inner screw, which self-centers as it rotates, providing ample space between the screw and tube wall to minimize or eliminate grinding. The lower end of the screw requires no bearing, while the upper end is driven beyond the point of discharge, preventing material contact with bearings or seals.

Fully enclosed, the conveyor tube prevents product and plant contamination, while the gentle rolling action imparted by the screw prevents the separation of blends.

The Model 1450 is available with an optional UL-listed start-stop control panel and a range of flow-promotion devices, and is available on a quick ship basis in the Americas and in Europe.

Flexicon Corp., Bethlehem, PA 888-353-9426

Colgate-Palmolive’s Robotic Case Packer Catches 90 Pouches Per Minute


[8-14-20: At the time Packaging Digest posted this, the video was public. It since has been changed to private and is no longer available. We apologize and have reached out to HMPS to see if we can get it to play again.]

[8-17-20: Unfortunately, Colgate-Palmolive has asked HMPS to keep the video private.]


C-P’s Softlan fabric softener packaging operations benefit from a 90-per-minute case packer from HMPS. Watch this short video to see how cases are erected and bottom-sealed then collected by one of two ABB robots, which take turns “catching” packs as they fly off a belt. The robots take turns holding the cases at an angle to safely shingle the packages before sending the case onward for top-sealing.