Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

PLC enables control and program of multiple robots

PLC enables control and program of multiple robots

The MLX200 Robot Gateway is the newest PLC control platform for Motoman robots. MLX200 enables the control of robots entirely through the Rockwell Automation ControlLogix and CompactLogix Programmable Automation Controllers (PAC). MLX200 provides easy-to-use programming Add-On-Instructions (AOI) for the Rockwell Automation RSLogix 5000 software. Multiple robots can be controlled through a single MLX200 Robot Gateway. A full-featured robot teaching and maintenance HMI is provided for use in the Rockwell Automation PanelView, and it can be customized by machine builders and integrators. See this product at Pack Expo International 2014.

Yaskawa Motoman, 937-847-6200

Booth #S-1733

Brita's new packaging gains visibility on the shelf

Brita's new packaging gains visibility on the shelf

The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) recently announced the winners of the 2014 AmeriStar Package Awards Competition earlier this year.

Judges assessed and scrutinized packages from 13 categories in a new online, virtual judging process back in April. Criteria included package innovation, sustainability, protection, economics, performance and marketing.

Top AmeriStar winners included the Best of Show Award, the Sustainable Package Award and the Design Excellence Award. Winners were honored at the AmeriStar and Visionary Awards Reception on June 10 during EastPack in New York City.

This year’s Sustainable Package Award winner, The Clorox Co., won for its Brita Pitcher Open-Sided Carton.

The packaging system consists of a carton tray and band containing a pitcher protected by shrink film. This open-sided design allows for a significant material waste reduction from the previous packaging while eliminating the threat of damage by letting shoppers look at the actual pitcher without opening the carton. The end result is a package that shows off the beautiful pitcher design in a format that easily communicates the size, shape and features of the product.

Packaging Digest caught up with Samuel J. Marino, CPP, packaging development scientist, Clorox, to find out more about this innovative packaging system.

What makes this package so unique?

Marino: Its ability to sufficiently protect a Brita pitcher with significant product visibility and approximately half of the packaging materials makes it unique.

How did the design come about?

Marino: Inspiration came from sports ball equipment packaging that displayed the product through a large window on shelf that allowed for consumers to interact with the item.

The fundamental message of the Brita brand is to reduce waste by providing consumers with a sustainable alternative to bottled water.

We realized that our packaging did not align with this message based on the number of components, materials used, and difficulty of separation for recycle streams.

We also wanted to increase the impact of our products on the shelf. Showing that Brita products are fun housewares is a key priority for us and this packaging really allowed the product to stand out.

What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view? From a packaging view?

Marino: The key goals from a marketing view included improving shelf impact and brand recognition compared to current and competitors packaging by displaying more of the product. Packaging goals included reducing packaging weight, number of components, and eliminating PVC without increasing unsalables during the supply chain.

What challenges were encountered from a packaging production standpoint and how were they solved? Which of these were anticipated and which were not?

Marino: Anticipated but not to the extent of work—Shrink wrapping is a highly variable process and balancing cosmetic appearance with technical feasibility was difficult. We tackled this issues by developing an internal specification with our marketing team once a stable process was determined.

Not Anticipated—Preventing unwanted creases in such a skinny carton dieline. Standard handling practices has to be modified to prevent this issue.

Anticipated—Verifying that the shrink wrap could sufficiently protect the pitcher from scuffing through the supply chain.

Peppers get 'sweet' single-serve packaging

Peppers get 'sweet' single-serve packaging

When it comes to food packaging, convenience is one of the key factors driving growth in this category. Coupled with a spike in snacking and a demand for portion control sizes from health-minded consumers and it is easy to see why single-serve packaging has grown significantly in the marketplace.

According to research from The Hartman Group, what consumers want more of is fairly basic:

  • Interesting, less processed food
  • In smaller-sized packages
  • That can be eaten on the go

Those attributes help address their needs in three major eating categories:

  • Snacks, which represent half of eating occasions, almost belying the word “snack”
  • Food eaten alone, which happens for 47% of eating occasions
  • Food eaten within an hour of purchase, which is no longer relegated to restaurant meals

Taking advantage these dining trends is Baloian Farms as it expands its product line to include a new offering –sweet mini peppers with fat-free ranch, packaged all together in a single-serve cup.

“We know that today’s consumer is looking for convenient, easy and on-the-go options for snacking. We saw this as an opportunity to not only expand our product line and continue to build the pepper category, but introduce a product that would appeal to all consumers with its convenient ready-to-eat, portion controlled size, and flavors that all ages enjoy,” says Jeremy Lane, sales manager of Baloian Farms.

Since the packaging contains fresh, whole mini sweet peppers, the issues of freshness and shelf life commonly linked with fresh-cut products, have been reduced.

“We are excited to be able to offer consumers another healthy option that they can enjoy year round, as well as to be able to offer retailers a product that will help increase sales in the pepper category. We are constantly striving to find innovative and new opportunities to continually bring our customers premium fresh products,” adds Lane.

The product is available year-round and has a 21-day shelf life.  Peppers are packed in an 11 count case and are available for sale.

Barrier films enable broader food distribution

Barrier films enable broader food distribution

Active barrier films protect packaged baked goods from oxygen exposure while preserving flavor, aroma and appearance. Designed for modified atmosphere or vacuum packaged products, Freshness Plus active barrier films extend product shelf life and prevent mold growth by reducing the level of oxygen within the package. As a result, processors can expand their product distribution range to a wider retail market without losing critical peak freshness time in transit. Additionally, Freshness Plus active barrier films are ideal for oxygen-sensitive and preservative-free products, enabling processors to expand product lines to include specialty, organically-sourced or gluten-free goods. See this product at Pack Expo International 2014.

Sealed Air, 800-391-5645

Pack Expo Booth #S-2939

Printed electronic circuits energize paperboard packaging

Printed electronic circuits energize paperboard packaging
Battery may be onboard or consumer supplied.

Want to really gain consumer interest at the point of purchase? This invention is directed at increasing the enticement at point-of-sale through packaging for products such as a breakfast cereal in a new, cost-effective way that can be described as “electrifying."

The patent filing from paperboard carton supplier C.W. Zumbiel Co., Hebron, KY, is for products such as packaging made from paperboard blanks printed with electric circuits using conductive inks. The electrical circuit may be powered by a battery inserted into a battery compartment of the product package or may allow for a consumer-supplied battery. The blank may include a removable section with a printed electrical circuit or a portion that may be separated from the blank and used separately from the product package.

Components can include light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and the use of conductive copper tape for the electronic connections.

The patent also considers the sustainable aspects of the packaging: The ink may typically comprise carbon in a water­based carrier so that the packaging satisfies Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) model legislation regarding allowable levels of heavy metals in municipal waste.

You can see the full patent filing here.

Predestined for a career in packaging

Predestined for a career in packaging
Rebecca Kisch is a senior in the packaging program at Cal Poly.

Certain people seemed destined for packaging from birth, like Rebecca Kisch, a senior in the packaging program at the California Polytechnic State University. This rising star at Cal Poly shares with us her packaging story past, present and future.

Tell us about yourself and your studies.

Kisch: I am a senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, working towards a major in Industrial Technology, with a concentration and minor in Packaging. I spent the first half of my life in Johannesburg, South Africa, where my parents owned a corrugated packaging plant. While exposed to the packaging industry at a very young age, I was intrigued by the packaging design and manufacturing processes.

The packaging related coursework at Cal Poly involves all major elements involved between conceptualization of a package to marketing it and includes design and prototyping, validating designs, converting processes for plastics and metal-based fabrication amongst others. The important tools that I use are design and prototyping software and dynamic testing machinery.

What led you to Cal Poly?

Kisch: Twelve years ago, my family moved to Paso Robles, CA, which is about 25 miles from Cal Poly. From a young age, I was musically inclined, so I naturally joined bands at school. Throughout middle school and high school, I participated in County and State Honor Bands, which were held at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. I remember stepping onto the campus and feeling an overwhelming sense of excitement; I knew then that Cal Poly would be the university I attended.

When I was in the 7th grade, I was invited to the Cal Poly Packaging Department to perform an Edge Crush test (ECT) comparative study for a school science project. At the time I didn’t know that I’d be pursuing a career in packaging, but looking back at my prior opportunities at the University, I feel like it was meant to be. In a way, I don’t feel like I chose Cal Poly, but that Cal Poly chose me.

How do your family and friends feel about your pursuit?

Kisch: It was no surprise to my family when they learned I was pursuing a career in packaging. I was having a difficult time deciding on what major I should pursue, and my mother asked me what I loved doing and what I wanted to achieve. I responded with science, design and chemistry and that my ultimate goal was to translate my ideas and creativity into something tangible in the physical world.

My Mom encouraged me to look into packaging because it offered opportunities to fulfill both my scientific interests and my creative bent. It didn’t take long for me to develop a passion for packaging!

When my friends found out I was pursuing a career in packaging, I received responses like “you’re making boxes?” or “oh, so you’re going to work for UPS?” When I hear such responses, I see it as an opportunity to enlighten people on the diversity and grand scale of the packaging industry.

My friends now laugh because it’s guaranteed that, when we hang out, I’ll be talking about the latest packaging class or project that I am doing at school. They all agree that packaging isn’t just a course of study for me, but an ever-growing passion.

What do you hope to gain from the packaging program?

Kisch: Since packaging encompasses design, prototyping, engineering, physics, chemistry and business, I hope to have a solid grounding in all aspects of packaging. Based on the classes that I have completed to date, I would like to pursue a career in distribution and logistics involving packaging design and dynamics testing. I have been lucky enough to be exposed to so much through the classes and research opportunities, that I know packaging is a continually evolving field. Ultimately, I know that the packaging program at Cal Poly will equip me with all the knowledge and tools to facilitate my creation of numerous innovative packages that will bring further advancement to the packaging industry.

What field trips have you taken?

Kisch: As an active member and vice president of Cal Poly’s Student Packaging club, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2013 Pack Expo event in Las Vegas. This was, by far, the most memorable field trip because it confirmed my inkling of the enormous size and diversity of the packaging industry.

It was also a great opportunity to network with major players in the industry and to help solidify the direction I wanted to pursue. As part of the Cal Poly group that will attend this year’s Pack Expo in Chicago, I am looking forward to another amazing experience.

The most valuable packaging field trip so far was a recent one to St. Louis, MO, with one of our packaging professors as a research assistant. On this trip, I was exposed to the exciting field of real-world packaging research. 

What have been the toughest and the most useful classes?  

Kisch: It’s the same class:  Packaging Dynamics. It was the toughest class because physics play a key role in dynamics testing. There were many varying equations and factors for each test that we had to do, so remembering all of them got to be a little challenging!

This class was also the most useful because we were faced with a design challenge to create a six-bottle display-ready wine box that could undergo the small-parcel distribution challenges from Paso Robles, CA, to Shanghai, China.

I further challenged myself for this task by creating a display-ready box that weighed less than 1.5 lbs. To achieve this and even though our original design fulfilled all the project requirements, I redesigned our package 11 times and went through the pre-shipment distribution testing cycle six times. Although my package got close, it failed to pass the distribution test—or should I say, it has not yet passed the distribution test!

The biggest takeaway I got from this class was that, in the real world, you’ll most likely be designing and redesigning a package until success is achieved. My group members didn’t understand why I kept testing and redesigning, but I told them that it wasn’t just for the grade; it was about setting a challenging goal and working creatively to achieving it.

What’s your favorite lab activity?

Kisch: I don’t have a favorite project or piece of equipment, but I do have a favorite lab: The Packaging Dynamics lab, which is considered one of the most comprehensive labs among all the U.S. packaging schools. It is one of my favorites because we are able to validate designs by simulating real-world distribution conditions.

In the Dynamics lab, my favorite piece of equipment would be the servo-hydraulic vibration table mountable vacuum chamber that was developed in-house by a former graduate student. It is fascinating to watch the effect of altitude on various types of produce packaging.

What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about packaging?

Kisch: The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how large and important the industry is. When you think about it, every physical product needs to be packaged in some way or another, so it impacts virtually every industry segment. Although I was brought up in a “packaging family,” it wasn’t until I was exposed to Cal Poly’s Packaging Department course work that I realized how important packaging is to practically all industries in the world.

How much of your interest in packaging spills over into your real life?

Kisch: It’s almost embarrassing to admit how much; whether at home, serving tables or in a social setting, there isn’t a day that goes by where I am not talking about packaging. I’m the girl who shares her passion for packaging at every opportunity and tries to educate others to see how fascinating and interesting the industry is.

When I shop, I take pictures of different boxes and packages, so it is no surprise that I have more pictures of different packaging designs than anything else on my smartphone. I love packaging that is considered completely different form the “norm” and a wine bottle that was made out of pulp board with a plastic bladder inside instead of glass that I recently saw fits that description perfectly.

Anything else you’d care to mention about packaging?

Kisch: Packaging is an industry that will forever be evolving as new products come to market. I am very fortunate to be pursuing a career in packaging and I can only hope that one day I will design and launch a packaging product that will revolutionize the industry.

For more about the packaging program at Cal Poly, contact:

Jay Singh, Ph.D, professor and packaging program director

Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly State University

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

805-756-2129; Fax 805-756-6111

Packaging design remains undervalued by brand owners

Packaging design remains undervalued by brand owners
Energy brands that performed best all offer an enticing and often alarming icon on the can.

Real-world examples highlight a graphics-heavy, takeaway-rich report on beverage packaging winners and losers from Affinnova, which shares surprises and advice in this Packaging Digest exclusive. 

A report released mid-summer by global marketing technology company Affinnova revealed that package design dictates winners in the beverage aisle, helping new brands compete against current leaders in soda-alternative categories. In fact, studies show that investments in package design redesigns can yield 50 times more return than investments in advertising.

Using its Design Audit technology, Affinnova analyzed the packaging of brands in the water enhancer, energy drink, flavored sparkling water, flavored enhanced water and sparkling fruit juice categories. Designs were measured on their ability to grab and hold consumer attention, strengthen consumer brand perceptions and help convert consumers to purchase.

We asked Mike Black, manager of marketing and communications to interpret the surprises and feedback the company found from the report and to share advice for Packaging Digest readers.

What has been the biggest surprise to the findings?

Black: The surprising finding is not that package design is important, but just how underleveraged it is relevant to its cost. In 2012, Coca-Cola spent $5 million on advertising for its NOS brand, which was considerably more than other brands, including Monster, and saw its market share decrease. What that tells us is the Coke’s advertising and distribution superiority can’t overcome NOS’s largest challenge, which is a lack of differentiation and inability to stand out at shelf. Investing in a package redesign would cost Coca-Cola a fraction of its advertising spend and help ensure that the demand being driven by advertising would translate to actual sales.  

What advice do you have for brand owners?

Black: One, setup a program for evaluating package design on a regular basis:  The store shelf landscape is constantly changing. Consumer perception of your package design will change relative to every change your competitors make to their package design. It’s critical to remain proactive about any threats or opportunities for your brand.

Two, allocate more resources to design: Studies show that investments in package design redesigns can yield 50 times more return than investments in advertising. Still, package design is traditionally an afterthought. Brands that can systemically create and deploy better package designs can achieve significant competitive advantage in market.

Three, evaluate designs in a competitive context: When undertaking a package redesign, be sure to evaluate potential designs against competitors to understand the true market impact and to see if your design will increase or decrease share.

What kind of feedback have you received to date?

Black: It’s not easy for brand managers to understand how their design is performing against competitors, so many marketers have been contacting us see how their specific brands did—where they are weakest and strongest. One of the more notable (and probably unrelated) updates since we published the report has been Coca-Cola’s investment in Monster. It was apparent from the audit that Coca-Cola’s two brands—Full Throttle and NOS—were having a difficult time differentiating in the market. Now Coca-Cola can benefit more fully from Monster’s success.

What else is worth pointing out?

Black: Clearly, America’s love affair with soda is ending: Overall soda volumes fell an estimated 3% in 2013, the ninth straight yearly decline and more than double the 1.2% decline in 2012, according to Beverage Digest. This means soda giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi will need to work twice as hard to catch up in other beverage categories where they are the “new kids on the block”—categories such as enhanced waters, energy drinks, sparkling water and liquid water enhancers. Because supporting all these brands with advertising while maintaining their core soda brands will be nearly impossible, there is a real opportunity for Coca-Cola and Pepsi to use package design as a more cost-effective way to gain advantage. We see that happening already with Coca-Cola’s new Minute Maid offering in water enhancers, which is performing extremely well with consumers based on response to package design.

The full report can be accessed at

Brewery's dry running conveyor delivers water savings—and bottom line results

Brewery's dry running conveyor delivers water savings—and bottom line results
Made of high-performance polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) thermoplastic with a low coefficient of friction, the flat conveyor chain significantly lowers power consumption and noise.

Sustainability-driven conversion to dry running conveyor yields Craft Brew Alliance savings in energy, maintenance, material and water. Even "dry lube" is not needed on its bottling line.

Craft Brew Alliance, a leading independent craft brewing company, is enjoying more than water savings with its new dry run bottling conveyor. By switching conveyors for its Redhook Brewery bottling line, the company has eliminated 111,000 gallons of water and 675 gallons of soap for lubricating stainless steel chain.

The lightweight, low-friction chain and dry operation yield savings on energy, maintenance, damage to bearings, sensors and concrete floors, too, according to Kurt Schmidt, maintenance manager for Redhook. Friction is so low that "dry lube" is unnecessary as well. 

"As a brewer, we have a special interest in water sustainability, which certainly drove this project, but the dry conveyor stands on its own merit by reducing slip hazards, energy, maintenance, water, soap and chemicals to treat discharge water," says Schmidt. "Even with a partial installation, we have cut water use 60% and eliminated cleaning the conveyor after every shift."

The switch to a dry bottling conveyor at Redhook is part of a larger set of five-year sustainability goals that Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) established in 2009. According to the company's latest sustainability report, CBA saved $600,000 in 2013 through water re-use/reclamation, advanced lighting and energy management, use of solar energy, use of lighter-weight glass bottles, recycling and diverting 99.4% of waste from its Portland, OR, brewery and recycling 100% of the plastic from Redhook's Portsmouth, NH, plant.

CBA today uses just 4.73 gallons of water per gallon of beer, and its Portland brewery is already an industry leader at just 4.07 gallons of water per gallon of beer. "In 2013 alone, we cut water use 3.7 percent company-wide for each gallon of beer produced," says Julia Person, CBA sustainability manager. "Sustainability goals are key performance indicators for our business and we keep a close eye on them."

The changeover to a dry runningconveyor at Redhook is part of a bottling line overhaul that started with resurfacing the floor in the area with an epoxy/aggregate material in December 2013. "Our floor had been badly damaged from years of water puddling and cleaning; it was eroded an inch into the concrete in some places," Schmidt explains. "Our Krones bottling line had stainless steel chain on it that was about 12 years old. It needed soap-and-water lubrication spray, which damaged bearings, reducers and sensors, not just the floor. The steel chain builds up slime, then spreads it around and requires daily washing with an antimicrobial, all of which add to cost."

Better options

The bottling line runs 20 hours per day, four days per week, typically at 425 bottles per minute. At its fastest single-lane throughput, it runs about 150 feet per minute. Bottles enter the line from an uncaser, while the empty cases follow the bottles on a parallel conveyor to the case packer at the end. The bottles are mass conveyed about 200 feet, through several 90-degree turns, across a static transfer plate and into a combiner where they are single-filed at higher speed through the filler. They are mass conveyed afterward about 100 feet, nesting four-to-five wide, until a combiner again single-files the bottles for the labeler. The bottles are then mass conveyed 100 feet further to the case packer.

For the Redhook Brewery bottling line, CBA installed a dry-running System Plast New Generation (NG) conveyor chain and Nolu-S wear track from Emerson Power Transmission Solutions.

"Our goal from the start was to increase our overall efficiency," Schmidt says. "We knew there were better options than going with new stainless chain.” He had used standard low-friction (LF) acetal chain for dry operation at another brewery, but the application involved large plastic trays, not bottles, so it was quite different. Schmidt continues, “We were leaning toward LF, but then learned about the System Plast chain and Nolu-S wear strips. These are different, slicker materials, developed specifically to allow dry running, high-speed operation."

Unique plastic chain ousts acetal

System Plast New Generation (NG) chain is made of a proprietary high-performance polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) thermoplastic with a low coefficient of friction. The flat conveyor chain lowers power consumption and noise, and increases chain life up to 50% in some applications. Nolu-S wear strips and guides enable reduced-lubrication, high-speed operation. They are made of a unique compound of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) with a solid lubricant. The combination of NG chain and Nolu-S wear strips has a dry coefficient of friction of just 0.13—a fraction of traditional chains in steel and LF acetal—thereby reducing the conveyor's energy requirements by up to 30%.

Production imperatives at Redhook prevent a prolonged shutdown, so the change to the new plastic chain has been done in phases. "We tear out everything down to the frame and modify it if we think necessary," explains Schmidt. Key drive components, such as bearings, sensors, sprockets and gear drives are all replaced.

Lightweight chain with heavyweight advantages

"We use System Plast magnetic tracking chain into and out of the labeler," says Schmidt. "The radii allow lifting the chain out of the track for easy cleaning underneath. Typically, there's a tab that locks the chain down so you can't clean under it. The radii are also designed with a one-piece supply and return, so there's no gap where debris can collect, as we had with the stainless steel chain. The lift-out design and lightweight plastic chain win fans from both installers and operators. Light weight and low friction also mean it takes less energy to pull this chain. The overall smoother conveying motion of this chain has reduced downed bottles and jams, too—another plus for operators."

The revamped line also uses System Plast mounted bearings with backside seals, end caps and stainless steel inserts designed to withstand brewery chemicals and cleaning solutions.


Making the shift

As of spring 2014, the Redhook bottling line is 100% dry from the uncaser to the rinser, with some sections of old chain still to be replaced. "This line was originally designed to run wet-lubricated stainless steel chain, so converting to dry plastic chain inevitably involves fine tuning each new section as we go dry, and we're in that phase now, using water without soap in specific areas until we can tweak the line in those spots," Schmidt explains.

"There are cultural changes for the operators to work through, too, because they need to be weaned off dependence on water/soap lube,” Schnidt continues. “Nevertheless, there are a lot of smiles about smoother line operation, vastly reduced washdown requirements, the end to weekly greasing of bearings, slip hazards and overall drier workplace. We eliminated 30% of our washdown on day one, and we're building on this. We no longer need chemicals to adjust the pH of our discharge water either."

The sound level, which was 95 decibels (dBA) on the bottling line, is now approximately 91 dBA. "When we're running bottles, there's the inevitable clinking, but the underlying noise from metal conveyor chain and water-damaged bearings is gone," Schmidt says.

Value adds up

The cost for the new conveyor components—inclusive of everything—is about the same as needed for an overhaul using stainless steel chain. "Few in the industry think about the hidden cost of a wet line with its soap, water, pumps, tubing; chasing down leaks in the plumbing; slip hazards; daily washdowns or the drip pans obstructing the underside of the conveyor for service work," says Schmidt. "Water sustainability is just the tip of the iceberg when you convert to dry conveyor. The real payoff comes when you stop soaking your equipment and plant with water all day long."  

The changeover won't be complete, Schmidt adds, until the pumps, plumbing and nozzles for the water spray system are removed, along with the drip pans. "This is what we'll appreciate most at our end of the business," he says.


Emerson Power Transmission Solutions, 859-727-5263

Krones, 414-409-4000

Should a dry running conveyor be in your plant?

The mobile app "System Plast Conveyor Solutions Calculator" is available to determine a conveyor's water and energy savings potential in specific line layouts. The app is available on the website under the "Resources" tab or through Apple iTunes.

This article was edited by Lisa McTigue Pierce from material supplied by Emerson.

Mordens’ goes nuts for tactile folding carton

Mordens’ goes nuts for tactile folding carton

Mordens’ of Winnipeg Candy Manufacturing Ltd., a Canadian chocolatier and nut purveyor, is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year—and a plastic folding carton from think4D is part of the celebration.

The Mordens’ of Winnipeg Deluxe Mixed Nuts carton, made from amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET), is flexographically printed with photo-realistic images of the nuts inside the box and then topped with a UV coating. The front, back and top panels are further enhanced with think4D’s tactile treatment.

Each nut in the image is thermoformed in register with its high-definition print representation, and to a realistic height; cashews stand out more than almonds, for example. The nuts appear to be “popping out of that box,” says Fred Morden, the company’s president.

The company soft launched its think4D package earlier this year and is planning a hard launch for the 2014 winter holiday/sports season. Each box contains 454 grams of hand-packed nuts in a heat-sealed film pouch.

With the new package, the goal was to “make a box that you can leave on a coffee table or an office table as opposed to pouring the nuts into a bowl,” Morden says.“Then [we] can actually showcase the nuts and the box itself, and the brand.”

The innovative aspect of think4D’s technology also caught his attention. “We always try to be one step ahead of our competitors,” Morden says, adding that his company is “one of the first in North America to jump on this new technology.”

Local sourcing is also a plus. The think4D plant is located just south of Mordens’ home town of Winnipeg.

The cost differential for the new package is minimal, and consumers will see no upcharge. The cost of the think4D package vs the previous package—a plastic tub with a lid and two labels—is “very, very competitive,” Morden says.

He adds, “When you’re talking…a few pennies more, and you’ve got this beautiful package, it was a no-brainer” to make the switch.

Canada proposes changes to nutrition information on food labels

Canada proposes changes to nutrition information on food labels

Health Canada has proposed several modifications to the substance and manner in which information on food ingredients is presented on product labels. The proposal includes changes to the format of the Nutrition Facts Table, the list of nutrients that must appear in the table, the Daily Values (DV) requirements and the List of Ingredients on food labels. Health Canada also proposed guidelines to increase the consistency of serving size information on the Nutrition Facts Table among similar products.

Some of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts Table include:

• Modifying the format to make it easier to read and to emphasize certain elements, such as calories;

• Changing the order of nutrients so that those listed first are ones that Canadians may want less of, and those listed in the lower part of the table are ones that Canadians may want more of

• Including information on "added sugars" and/or the percent DV for "total sugars"

• Requiring declaration of potassium and vitamin D (listing vitamins A and C would be voluntary)

• Requiring the following explanatory message at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts Table: "5% DV or less is a little, 15% DV or more is a lot"

The proposed changes to the List of Ingredients include formatting requirements to provide a consistent look between different food products. These include requiring the list to appear in a box with a title, a minimum font size, bullets to separate ingredients and listing the ingredients in black type on a white or neutral background. More significantly, the proposed changes include requirements on how the ingredients are listed, such as grouping sugars together.

Currently, all added sugar-based ingredients are listed separately in descending order based on their proportion by weight in the food. Under the proposal, all sugar-based ingredients would be grouped in parentheses after the common name "Sugars" (for example, “Sugars (molasses, brown sugar, sugar)”), and be placed on the list based on the amount of all sugar-based ingredients in the food. Health Canada has proposed a DV for total sugar consumption of 100 grams. Thus, the explanatory message as to a little or a lot that appears at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts Table would suggest to consumers that foods containing 15g or more are high in sugar.

The proposed guidelines for serving sizes would reflect what Canadians typically eat at one sitting. For most foods that come in pieces—such as crackers, cookies, muffins and bagels—the proposed serving size would be the number of pieces closest to the reference amount, shown together with the corresponding weight (in grams). For foods that are divided before eaten—such as a wheel of cheese or frozen pizza—the serving size would be the fraction of food closest to the reference amount, followed by the corresponding weight (in grams). The serving size of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, sliced bread, gum and multi-serving meat—such as a whole chicken—would reflect the amount that is typically consumed. For example, the serving size for bread, which is currently either one or two slices, would be two slices of bread.

Consumers can comment on the current proposed changes until Sept. 11, 2014. Graphics of the proposed Nutrition Facts Table and List of Ingredients format can be found on Health Canada’s website at

Author George Misko is a partner at Keller and Heckman. Founded in 1962, the respected law firm has a broad practice in the areas of regulatory law, litigation and business transactions, serving both domestic and international clients. Reach him at