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Sleeve labels sprouting faster than May flowers

When a team of Packaging Digest editors was sent into the field to scout out new sleeve-labeled products in the supermarket, they expected to uncover one or two brand new examples of a labeling trend that started a few years ago. What they came back with, however, required a shopping cart. Following is their combined account of what has sprouted this spring, along with the tulips.

Lauren Hartman, Senior Editor
Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor
Grant Gerke, Associate Editor

Juicy shrink sleeves from Mayfield Dairy
As Mayfield Dairy's shrink-label supplier for its Chug bottle line, Seal-It is now supplying Mayfield with heat-shrinkable polyvinyl chloride (PVC) labels for orange juice in a new 1-quart high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle as well as for a relaunched pint bottle. The new labels, made of 2-mil PVC and reverse-printed in eight colors via a modified flexographic process, had to have a premium look. Designed to boost brand recognition, the labels do just that with vibrant printing and dynamic graphics featuring oranges growing on the vine on a clean white background. Label copy, accented by green, orange and white elements, indicates that calcium is added to the juice, which is a new ingredient in the product.

Mayfield, which likes the look of heat-shrinkable labels on several of its dairy bottles, chose the PVC labels here for their ability to cleanly, evenly shrink to the contours of the curvy bottles and provide glossy 360-deg, distortion-free graphics, as well as a bar code, nutrition facts and ingredient listings. Circle No. 230.

Fat-fighting oil 'cooks' in stretch sleeve
Enova, a new cooking and salad oil from Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Decatur, IL, is being touted for its fat-fighting properties. Available in Atlanta and Chicago test markets since fall, '02, in a distinctive-looking package, the oil contains 80 percent diacylglycerol, an ingredient made from natural soy and canola oils. The company claims these ingredients can reduce fats in the bloodstream after meals. Designed for those who want to maintain a healthy weight without changing the taste of foods, the oil is the result of a joint venture between ADM and the Kao Corp. of Japan. Kao has marketed Enova in Japan since '99; ADM decided to bring the product to the U.S. after it quickly moved to the top spot in Japan.

Showcasing Enova in its best light is a 20-oz HDPE bottle adorned with a snug-fitting PE stretch-sleeve label converted by SleeveCo. The label is flexo-printed in eight colors at a 133-line screen, which SleeveCo tells PD is significant because it provides a premium image and "is as high end as you can get with PE film." The full-body sleeve is a 1.25-mil laminated PE material that displays a bright green, yellow and gold color scheme with the Enova brand encircled in a sunburst graphic. WBK of Cincinnati created the attractive graphic design, which addresses the oil's attributes and distinctive qualities, adding the touch of gold as an eye-grabber. Owens-Illinois provides the natural-colored HDPE squeezable bottle, which has a ribbed, recessed label panel. SleeveCo also provides a 2-mil PVC taper-evident band in metallic gold that covers the bottle's white, hinged flip-cap.

The product is produced in Decatur by ADM Kao LLC, which says it's currently building a full-scale production facility for Enova, with plans for it to be operational soon.

"Enova has a wide range of potential applications, including salad dressings, sauces, baked goods and frozen dinners," says Tony DeLio, vp of marketing and external affairs at ADM. "With its light color and mild flavor profile, combined with clinically shown health benefits, Enova oil could make a tremendous impact on the food industry." Circle No. 231.

Dressed-up bottle delivers new salad-topping concept
Unilever Bestfoods N.A. may have created a new catchphrase with the launch last January of its "Ranchiest Ranch" ever. The dressing product, with a fresh, contemporary presentation using a full-body shrink sleeve, is called Wish-Bone® Ranch-Up!™ –a name chosen to capture the fun ways in which the topping can be used.

Explains Ali Tadlaoui, senior brand manager for Wish-Bone and Western dressings, "We realized that there's a spectrum of how people feel about using Ranch dressing and why they use it. There's one end of the spectrum that feels using Ranch is a fun and social activity, and they have a kind of 'up' feeling overall about the product."

To enhance this fresh approach of marketing Ranch as not only a dressing, but also as a dip, topping and spread, Unilever Bestfoods chose trendy, functional packaging, as well. The product, in Cheesy, Zesty and Classic flavors, uses an 18-oz multilayer polypropylene (PP) bottle with an ethylene-vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier layer that departs from the typical salad-dressing container format by using an upside-down orientation. The almost-oval shaped bottle was selected, relates Tina Carlson, senior packaging engineer for Unilever Bestfoods, because "it provides a modern look and it makes it easy to dispense product when the dressing is at the bottom of the package, near the cap."

Adds Tadlaoui, "It's something different for us too. Obviously, most of the salad dressings are in rightside-up bottles, so we were hoping to draw some attention to the brand and show that we can do more than just Italian dressing, which is what we're really known for."

The inverted bottle, produced by Owens-Illinois and Graham Packaging, is generously sized, allowing for a large billboard area. Unilever Bestfoods takes complete advantage of this opportunity with a full-body shrink-sleeve label from Fort Dearborn. Graphics, designed by Unilever Bestfoods' Visual Branding Center and an outside design firm, are bold, with wide swashes of green and the brand name prominently displayed. Varieties are distinguished by colored banners: Classic is blue, Zesty is purple, and Cheesy is orange. Much of the label remains unprinted, though, so that consumers can easily see the thick dressing inside. Printing of the PVC label film is done on a gravure press in six colors.

Carlson explains that label format was chosen because of the bottle's compound curves, which made spot labels "unsuitable." Supplied to Unilever Bestfoods on rolls, the labels are applied using automated equipment and a steam shrink tunnel from PDC International.

The final component of the package, the bottle closure, is a Neat Squeeze Cap from Seaquist Closures, specified by Unilever Bestfoods' Packaging Technology. Made of PP and a silicone valve, the cap is designed to restrict the flow of product and to prevent dripping.

As Ranch-Up! has just recently been released to retail grocery stores nationwide, Tadlaoui informs PD that it's a little bit too early to gauge consumers' reaction to the product. "But, from the research that we did," he says, "we knew that this would be something that would inspire consumers to do even more creative things with their dressings, so we expect that they will like it." If Unilever Bestfoods has its way, pretty soon everyone will be Ranching-Up! Circle No. 232.

On the one hand, creamer container is new
While new packaging for International Delight®-brand liquid coffee creamer follows a trend in the food and beverage market toward rigid plastic packaging and full-body shrink-sleeve labels, it also stirs things up with a new cap design that allows for one-handed opening and pouring. Distributed by Morningstar Foods, Inc., Dallas, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Dean Foods Co., the coffee creamer in 11 flavors was introduced in a sleek new bottle last March into grocers' refrigerated dairy sections nationwide, as well as to select clubstores.

The eye-catching full-body label decorating the 16-fl-oz polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container is made from PETG and is printed on a nine-color gravure press by American Fuji Seal. Label graphics include a steaming cup of coffee swirled with the creamer, along with a colored banner that indicates variety. The color of the banner and the background of the lower half of each label vary according to flavor. Above a brown trademarked coffee-cup logo and the brand identification in bold blue letters is another background color of vivid blue, interspersed with what looks like white curls of steam. These graphics are printed on two sides of the bottle label, allowing them to be visible no matter what the product's orientation on the shelf.

The container's most unique aspect, the dollop-shaped cap, is designed to "answer Americans' need for an extra hand during their busy mornings," Morningstar explains. Says Bing Graffunder, company president and COO, "From the moment you wake up, mornings can often be a hectic and chaotic time. International Delight is part of morning rituals–a familiar part of the day that makes mornings uniquely your own and sets the tone for the entire day."

The blue, PP closure, designed by Lipson Alport Glass & Associates and supplied by Owens-Illinois, is easily opened and closed by the touch of a finger, with the bottle's ergonomically shaped neck offering a perfect place to grip the container. Morningstar says the closure was designed in response to consumer research, and rated "extremely favorably" during test marketing. Circle No. 233.

Spreading the word about Dippin' Sauces
First, it was organic foods. Now, dipping sauces have become a mainstream resident in the food community, according to Vin Bansal, group manager packaging technology for Unilever Bestfoods. Debuting in January, '03, Dippin' Sauce™ furthers the inverted tube/bottle and shrink-sleeve label trend for condiments and related products. The three varieties, Honey Mustard Madness™, Rockin' Ranch™ and Totally BBQ™, display vibrant colors and dipping suggestions on the 2-mil PVC shrink-sleeve labels that adorn the contoured bottle. Graham Packaging and Owens-Illinois provide the clear, 14-oz PP bottle that is comprised of six layers, including an EVOH barrier layer.

The high-impact graphics underscore the new product offering, Bansal tells PD. "We believe dipping appeal is very common and has become mainstream for consumers," he says. The PVC label film is supplied and converted into shrink-sleeve labels by Fort Dearborn Co. The labels are gravure-printed in six colors. Unilever's Visual Branding Group, along with outside graphic design firms, created the graphics for the three bottles.

The Dippin' Sauce varieties are distributed nationally. The sauces fall under the Hellmann's brand (or Bestfoods' West of the Rockies), and the suggested retail price is $2.49. Circle No. 234.

Mayo squeezes out the best
Aimed to "Squeeze Out the Best" are Hellmann's (or Bestfoods' West of the Rockies) Big Squeeze™ Real and Light mayonnaise products, also from Unilever Bestfoods. Launched last year, the clear, "kid-friendly," squeezable, multilayer-plastic bottle holds 18 oz and presents a bold, full-body vinyl shrink-sleeve label from Fort Dearborn (formerly Coastal Sleeve Label, see PD, November, '02, p. 70). Unilever Bestfoods became one of Coastal Sleeve Label's main customers back in '02 when it switched from pressure-sensitive labels to film sleeves for many of its most prominent brands. In many cases, Unilever Bestfoods retained the same bottles, and just changed the labels. Here, however, the teardrop-shaped bottle was newly introduced.

Brand identity and lively 360-deg graphics are prominent on the labels, which are devoid of printing in some areas to let the mayonnaise show through the bottle. Circle No. 235.

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