Because We’re Living in a Materials World
SF&WB: What factors are driving today’s food packaging trends?
SF&WB: You follow numerous product sectors. What have you observed in snack and bakery food packaging?
SF&WB: What’s happening in food packaging graphics?
SF&WB: How are manufacturers and suppliers making packages more convenient?
SF&WB: How is sustainability impacting package material development?
SF&WB: How are these trends playing out in snacks and bakery foods?
These trends should continue into and through 2012 because there is much more room to grow in performance improvements. You’ll see suppliers and manufacturers applying this knowledge to the next generation of sustainable packages.
About Timothy Bohrer
What do consumers want? It doesn’t take special glasses to see these trend lines. With 3D theater movies, 3D televisions, 3G and 4G smartphones, it’s clear consumers want added dimensions and extra features. They want to more closely connect with a momentary diversion, to create more of a custom experience. They also want to feel better about how their purchase impacts the environment.
Experts agree that new products and packaging carry those themes right into the snack and bakery food categories.
“Increased competition, an uncertain global economy and growing sustainability demands are driving packaging developments across all categories, including snack foods and bakery,” says Timothy Bohrer, CPP, a packaging materials expert and owner of Pac Advantage Consulting LLC, Chicago. “These trends have companies working harder to differentiate themselves when it comes to how consumers perceive their product quality, convenience and value. The familiar equation of ‘cheaper, better, faster—choose any two,’ no longer creates success. Today, consumers and retailers demand all three product attributes.”
A 25-year industry observer, Rick Lingle is Editor-in-Chief of BNP Media’s Food & Beverage Packaging magazine.
“Convenience, paired with product differentiation, is a potent combination,” says Lingle. “We see continued snack and bakery interest in convenience. This includes zipper resealability or easy-open techniques such as full, top-of-pack peel and reseal features for cookies. Meanwhile, every company is chasing sustainability, often as one component within a larger Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.”
Form and function
Architects used to say, that “forms follows function.” Although that phrase may be lost to the past, packaging engineers are keeping it alive in new products as different as soup to nuts—or, perhaps, biscotti to nuts.
What are consumers’ “functional” food needs? On some levels, it’s clear they’re looking for snacks that do it all: Either satisfy individual needs or create a “sharing” experience for two or more.
Among those tapping the latter trend are American Pop Corn Co., Sioux City, Iowa, and ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb. Last year saw American Pop Corn roll out a Jolly Time microwave bag that, with the pull of a string, turns into an “Insta-Bowl” for sharing. Similarly, ConAgra launched its own Pop Up Bowl, which includes a transparent lid so that consumers can watch their popcorn pop.
Not everyone shares the same tastes? That’s okay, too. ConAgra came back last September with Orville Redenbacher’s Flavors, individual 3.24-oz. popcorn bags, each with a separate seasoning packet. Flavors seasonings include White Cheddar, Extra Cheese or Sea Salt and Vinegar.
Jesse Spungin is ConAgra’s vice president and general manager for the Orville Redenbacher’s brand.
“We’ve found consumers more than ever want to control the flavor of their food, and the flavor packet in Orville Redenbacher’s Flavors allows popcorn lovers to sprinkle on the preferred amount of seasoning to control the flavor intensity.”
Of course ConAgra isn’t the only one thinking small (packaging) to creatively deliver big flavor. Still more interesting new offerings include PB2, a powdered snack in 0.85-oz. glossy, multi-colored packets. Bell Plantation Inc., Tifton, Ga., tells consumers they simply need to add water and stir to make a quick snack using PB2 peanut butter or PB2 peanut butter with chocolate.
Others use packaging to facilitate eating experiences. One of those is Nonni’s Foods LLC, Tulsa, Okla. In conjunction with its summertime launch of Biscotti Bites, Nonni’s says it wanted complementary packaging to make its bite-size snack less messy and easy for travel. Officials say they developed a flexible, durable new bag that bends and folds effortlessly.
“In order for us to better service our consumers, we wanted to find out what we could do better to enhance their experience with our product,” says marketing director Matt Duffy. “Biscotti Bites are an easy solution for consumers who want to snack on gourmet cookies on-the-go; it communicates a less ‘fancy’ and more ‘every-day’ biscotti. The easy- to-use bag makes biscotti snacking effortless and convenient; just open and wrap back up for another biscotti break.”
Also targeting new usage occasions is John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., the Elgin, Ill., marketer of Fisher nuts.
“Consumer research led us to reinvent the baking nut category and create the Fisher Freshness Seal Bag,” says Howard Brandeisky, vice president of John B. Sanfilippo’s global marketing, innovation and customer solutions. “After opening, this new bag offers a press-to-seal closure that locks in the flavor and crunch of the nuts. The upright design also makes it easier to scoop right out of the bag, into the mixing bowl and store after use.”
Many food processors hope their packaging literally clicks with consumers in other ways. One of those companies is Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, Minong, Wis. When the company recast its MATADOR beef jerky communications and packaging design last fall, it used the opportunity to take packaging just a little bit further to reach MATADOR’s millennial target consumer.
“As part of MATADOR’s new, unique and vibrant package design, the brand has incorporated a QR (Quick Response) code to bring the latest news and happenings from MATADOR directly to its fans,” says Mark Catlin, director of marketing for the brand. “When scanned with a smart phone, the two-dimensional barcode will connect fans directly to MATADOR’s Facebook page, and provide elements like event sponsorship videos and product special offers. The QR code will also be used across many of MATADOR’s marketing and sales elements, such as in-store point-of-purchase, on MATADOR mobile marketing trucks, integrated into trade show activations and for field training.”
Because Green is Good
With the introduction of Freschetta Simply…Inspired Pizza, The Schwan Food Co., Marshall, Minn., took a fresh look at the product packaging. Officials say that each of the eight new varieties of Freschetta Simply…Inspired pizzas is wrapped in new Fresch-Taste Seal packaging to lock in the flavor while using 30% less packaging by weight than a traditional pizza carton.
By removing the outer paperboard carton, Schwan estimates that Freschetta Simply…Inspired pizza saves 1,378 tons of paperboard, which adds up to 23,433 trees saved each year. This new package design also sets Freschetta Simply…Inspired pizzas apart within the retailer’s frozen pizza section.
And the Award Goes To …
Snack foods and bakery products earned top honors in 2011 competitions hosted by the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC).
Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards: Weaver Popcorn Co., Inc., Van Buren, Ind., earned a silver award for environmental and sustainability achievement for a new Trail’s End caramel corn bag developed by Danafilms Inc. and Plastic Packaging Technologies Inc. FPA credited Weaver and its suppliers for a “dramatic” packaging conversion from historical rigid tins and pails. Officials said the in-line Quad Seal Bag provides improved shelf presence, a three-ply barrier film combination and Inno-Lok zipper. Say FPA contest judges: “This package provides a compelling case study for marketers to convert to flexible packaging for an improved package at a lower cost, while reducing disposable waste by 80 to 85 percent.”
National Paperboard Packaging Competition: ConAgra Foods’ Slim Jim 16-Count Snack Sticks package (provided by Graphic Packaging) earned an “Eco” Excellence Award. PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats unit earned a Gold award (general category) for new Quaker Life Soft Baked Bars (Graphic Packaging).
Where there’s smoke …