Bending to Demand
by Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
Flexible packaging means convenience, portability and
When it comes to flexible
packaging, consumers want it all.
By its very definition, it must be easy to hold,
convenient to store, convenient to use. It should include easy-opening
technology, like tear notches or directional tear systems. For
multi-serving products, consumers also want packaging that reseals and
stores easily — that applies to both the closing technology and the
A zippered stand-up pouch, and a tray with an
easy-open, resealing lid are both examples of packages that are easy to
reseal and store. If there’s preparation involved, the package needs
to make it easier, possibly by keeping the ingredients separate until they
need to be mixed.
And finally, consumers want packaging that’s
environmentally sound. Flexible packaging fits that bill well — as
the Flexible Packaging Association says, it delivers “less waste in
the first place.”
Go Go Go
Consumers lead busy lives, and when they want their
cheese or yogurt or milk on the go, they want it now.
“Consumers demand fast, economical, portable
snacks and meals,” says Dennis Burian, director of marketing cheese
and dairy, Curwood Inc., a division of Minneapolis-based Bemis Co.
“Because of this increasing trend, packaging that is easy to open,
providing quick access to the product, is in high demand.”
For on-the-go concepts, Curwood developed films and
technologies including EZ Peel®, EZ Peel/Re-Seal®, FancyCut®, IntegraTear® and IntegraScore®. All function to make Curwood’s packaging more
consumer friendly, Burian says.
Beyond takeaway foods and packaging, consumers expect
packaging that will help make their lives easier, says Shanna Moore, global
market manager, DuPont Packaging, Wilmington, Del. “We are all
looking for shortcuts to prepare our meals and that is evident in the
variety of new products hitting the shelves to give us a decent meal in a
short amount of time,” she says.
Dairy processors and packagers will see opportunities
with the 79 million Baby Boomers in the United States, Moore says.
“The first of them turn 60 this year. We will start to see arthritic
hands that can’t open complicated packages. We need to design with
these folks in mind by keeping the package easy to open and easy to
reclose,” she says.
DuPont has developed a variety of products to give
strong, consistent seals, but still peel open easily — whether
the material is sealing to itself or to a different product such as a
yogurt or other dairy cup, Moore says. Appeel®, the product for peelable lidding, is designed to be
extrusion coated onto the desired substrate.
Baby Boomers, like other demographics, are looking for
ways to help with portion control. Flexible packaging can help, providing
outlets for dairy processors to develop healthy, single-serve products.
“By developing the packaging in a single-serve
format, it provides the consumer with a convenient package to control their
portions to a healthy, one-serving size,” Moore says.
Making an Impact
The dairy industry continues to realize the importance
of shelf impact, particularly for single-serve containers and flavored milk
products. This has fueled additional growth of shrink-sleeve labels on
these plastic containers to respond to this demand for high visibility on
the store shelf or refrigerated dairy case, says Terry Copenhaver,
marketing manager, Alcoa Packaging, Richmond, Va.
Alcoa supplies shrink sleeve labels to the dairy
industry, and its product offerings include PVC, PETG and OPS shrink-sleeve
labels. Alcoa’s patented process for seaming provides high-quality
labels with exceptional seam integrity, Copenhaver says.
Dairy processors are constantly adding new flavors and
product variations to their flavored milks and yogurts. New product
offerings are hitting the shelves and dairy manufacturers need a way to
differentiate their products from the multitude of competitors, Copenhaver
says. “The high gloss of a shrink sleeve label can make a huge impact
on shelf presence. Plus, bright, colorful inks will catch the
consumer’s eye as they use just a few seconds to make their decision
on product choice.”
Copenhaver points to Alcoa’s shrink-sleeve
printing on the Neilson Dairy Ultimate Chocolate Milk. “The rich
chocolate colors are accurately reproduced with the gravure printing
process and the PET shrink film conforms tightly to the curves of the
container. The entire packaging presentation entices the shopper to
purchase the container for instant chocoholic satisfaction.”
Improved ink technologies with fluorescent and
metallic pigments allow graphic designers a wider array of possibilities
for label design, Copenhaver says.
“In addition, if clear bottles or containers are
used, the designer can allow a clear area in the label to allow the
consumer to see the product. The ability of shrink labels to conform to
unusual shapes, with shrink up to 75 percent, allows the dairy processors
to choose very unusual and attractive container shapes for increased shelf
impact,” Copenhaver says. “In addition, the shrink label will
cover the entire container, giving a 360-degree billboard for brand
graphics and, if the label is designed to cover the cap or closure,
tamper-evidence. Other labels are unable to provide this large amount of
coverage on the container.”
Flexible packaging is being used more than ever to
differentiate the product on the shelf, Burian says. “Dairy
processors want flexible packaging to convey a message to the consumer that
their product is more convenient.”
When Sorrento Lactalis sought a different look for its
Precious fresh mozzarella packages, it turned to CL&D Digital for
digitally printed tray and cheese ball labels and tray and paperboard
Digital printing helped Sorrento get to market fast
and first, which can provide a competitive edge, says Bob Scherer, vice
president of CL&D Digital, Delavan, Wis.
“It’s all about building products to meet
the needs of your customers – not building products and hoping your
customers will buy them,” Scherer says.
Typically, Buffalo, N.Y.-based Sorrento Lactalis Inc.
uses digital printing for small packaging runs and initial new product
Before the product launch, household penetration of
the category was at 4 percent, Sorrento reports, and the new product
packaging launch was supported by advertising and promotional efforts that
directed consumers to the dairy section to find the product.
Packaging challenges included incorporating the Easy
Peel opening system, achieving a good seal with a wet product, printing
graphics on relatively small packaging and using adhesive tape to secure
the wrapped cheese ball product within the sleeve.
“Our objective for packaging our new fresh
mozzarella was to have different packaging than currently available for
this type of product,” says Alan Stock, Sorrento Lactalis trade
marketing manager. “We wanted to gain better in-store awareness and
to be seen from a distance at the store, and to communicate the fresh
cheese as an upscale, premium product.”
Peace of Mind
Dairy processors want to deliver on consumer needs at
the most cost-effective way possible, Moore says. “They want
packaging that is going to protect the product, but is also convenient,
safe and easy to use. Safety is very important today and having a product
that is sealed tightly is important to prevent tampering.”
Convenience technologies such as adhesive seals and
peels often found in flexible packaging not only provide easy access to the
food product, but assure the package’s barrier is not compromised.
“Food safety is a concern for consumers today,
and tamper-evident packaging can provide them peace of mind that their food
product is protected,” Burian says.
Moore says consumers are paying more attention to the
environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil. “One very
important fast-emerging trend is in the area of renewable materials,”
DuPont’s Appeel provides tailored peel force and
replaces solvent coatings. DuPont has developed environmentally friendly
products such as Biomax®, a compostable PET; Sorona®, a partially renewable material; and Biomax® Strong, a
toughness modifier for the corn-based plastic PLA.
“If we can make a change that doesn’t
significantly affect our wallet, then we’ll switch to a product that
is better for the environment,” Moore says. “The rise in
materials that are either from renewable materials or are compostable will
enable this to happen.”
Shonda Talerico Dudlicek is a freelance journalist and
a former managing editor of Dairy Field.
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