Retail-ready packaging (RRP) is being used by more bakery and snack producers because it offers benefits to both manufacturers and retailers. RRP makes it easy for retailers to quickly restock shelves and reduce injury among its employees. It also builds an additional layer of branding to help producers deliver a strong message.

RRP makes products easy to find in both the warehouse and on the shelf. The packaging is easy to open in-store without the need for tools such as box cutters or knives. Yet, these packages need to be sturdy enough to withstand the transfer and supply chain process without damaging the product inside. Also, the front panel must provide clear text and graphic information describing the product.

“RRP is designed to be easy-to-stock onto shelves, minimizing time and physical effort by store employees. For example, handles integrated into the packaging can help employees place product into an allotted space,” says Maria Ferrante, senior director, marketing and communications for PMMI, Reston, VA.

“Predominantly made of corrugated materials, RRP comes in many different types of packaging options, including pallet displays, case stackers and counter displays,” Ferrante adds. “Tear-and-stack branded corrugated boxes reduce un-packaging costs at the retail level and offer built-in marketing for the brand. Two types of RRP are prevalent in the bakery and snack market today: folding cartons with windows and flexible packaging with windows. Because the consumer can see the product, these types of packages help showcase product freshness.”

Both E-flute and Micro-flute corrugated provide a premium look and feel to these retail display trays, according to Peter Fox, CEO of SOMIC Packaging Inc., Eagan, MN. “The printability of these materials, along with their thinner construction, makes them an ideal premium display vehicle. Paperboard, especially solid bleached sulfate (SBS), also offers a high-value display for baked items. The white interior of the tray provides the impression of cleanliness and freshness. For the cover materials, standard B-flute Kraft corrugated is the material of choice because it forms cleanly and consistently.”

Important distinctions among RRP displays are becoming more relevant in the retails sector, according to Eric Andersen, marketing manager, Delkor Systems Inc., St. Paul, MN. One such distinction is standardization and approval by large, vertically integrated retailers such as Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, and Costco. “Each of these stores has preferences and demands around what tray hood cases need to look like on-shelf. Over time, I believe we will see a nationwide trend that leans into these preferences. Pre-approved designs, such as Delkor’s Cabrio Case, make it easy for food manufacturers to make sure their secondary packages conform to retailer standards.”

Delkor Systems Inc. has been adapting its RRP machinery to match the latest trends in the bakery and snack market. One major trend has been the shift toward pouches into retail-ready cases. “We have perfected top-load case packing of pouch products into retail-ready club store trays, standard brown box shippers, as well as tray hood cases,” Andersen says.

Bakery and snack producers can integrate RRP equipment into automated packaging lines today. In fact, various footprint options exist for facilities that are tight on space. BluePrint Automation (BPA), South Chesterfield, VA, can provide a turnkey line to meet individual packaging needs, according to Scott Williams, northwest sales manager. “If space is tight, we may lean toward one type of case packer versus another style depending on the space allotted. We have many options to help customers in tight layouts and welcome the opportunity to explore creative options.”

Syntegon Technology, Waiblingen, Germany, has developed a compact version of its Elematic wraparound case packer that can alleviate problems caused by limited space. “Elematic machines generally fit into straight lines because they are narrow,” says Bernhard Vaihinger, product manager, “but blank magazines can be loaded from one side and all areas are reachable within arm’s length to make the machines user-friendly. Also, the machines can be configured with an inline or side in-feed and out-feed to help customers who have limited space.” 


BluePrint Automation - Gantry 300

BluePrint Automation offers several options for retail-ready packaging. The Gantry 300 pick-and-place machine can handle both horizontal and vertical shelf-ready patterns, has a quick changeover between product recipes, and comes with an easy-to-use interface. “We also offer the Spider 300v, which utilizes delta robots for pattern forming, integrated with a simple gantry pick-and-place for loading the pattern into the case,” Williams says.


Delkor Systems Inc. - LSP Series

Delkor Systems builds formers, packers, closers and palletizing systems that are designed to run multiple package formats with a quick and simple tooling changeover. “Our most popular solution for RRP is the LSP Series case packer, which top loads bags, pouches, and cartons into cases, trays, and RRPs,” Andersen says. “It has a modular design, which allows customers to run at a wide range of speeds.”

A recent addition to Delkor Systems’ retail-ready equipment is an adjustable tooling cavity, which enables maximum compression strength, immediate tooling changes and complete case control throughout the forming process, Andersen adds. “It is part of our family of Smart Technologies that ensure our end users have a smooth, efficient operating experience.”


SOMIC Packaging Inc. - Wraparound Packer

SOMIC Packaging Inc. offers equipment that produces a variety of RRP. “For bakery and snack producers who have gone full shelf-ready in their production, the SOMIC cover tray machine is the machine of choice,” Fox says. “Its design offers the most flexibility from a finished package design. Also, it maximizes ease of use for the retailer and minimizes material consumption.”

Bakery and snack producers who want to provide a mix of standard shipping cases and shelf-ready should choose the SOMIC wraparound tray cover combination machine, Fox adds. “The most recent upgrades focus on ease of changeover from one format to the next. The reduction of change parts and conversion to more adjustable components with digital position indicators has been the most significant change moving toward the ultimate pushbutton changeover.”


Syntegon Technology - Elematic

Syntegon Technology offers wraparound machines that are designed to run different pack styles on one machine, with a strong focus on tray and hood pack styles and display-ready cases. “Due to the modular design of all Elematic machines, bakery and snack producers can upgrade their wraparound machine with a second magazine to produce tray and hood pack styles later,” Vaihinger says. “This longer machine frame allows for later integration of the second magazine. We also offer an XL version as an option for bigger shelf-ready pack styles, mainly for bakery applications.”


Yeaman Machine - Cartoners and Case Packers

Yeaman Machine and Colborne Foodbotics have introduced a series of cartoners that integrate Colborne Foodbotics’ 25 years of experience integrating robotic solutions into food manufacturing and packaging facilities.

The Yeaman CVA and CVC vertical cartoners integrate multi-lane in-feed systems and can pick-and-place a variety of products into a single display package. Bakery and snack producers can utilize perforated and/or open-top designs for immediate shelf placement. “The Colborne Foodbotics pick-and-place system utilizes one, two or three robots,” says Chris Bradley, sales director, Yeaman Machine, Lake Forest, IL. “The standard Yeaman cartoner design elements allow for extended in-feed areas. They are engineered for fast turnaround and changeover of many carton and package styles.”

The Yeaman CPC-R and CPD-R full-range case packers can utilize up to four Colborne Foodbotics in-feed robots to pick-and-place a variety of cartons, pouches and bags for case packing. The CPD-R handles standard regular slotted container (RSC) cases, perforated display cases and open-top display cases. The high-speed CPD version can pack up to 26 cases per minute.