When Olé Mexican Foods Inc. first consulted with its former film supplier about printing on the thermoformed package, the supplier declined. But when the Norcoss, Ga.-based company reached out to Sealed Air, the company’s graphics and packaging experts sprang into action to make it happen.

Printing on plastic that will be thermoformed must occur prior to forming, so the graphic design must account for the distortion caused by the molding process. The path to getting it right can be tedious, time-consuming and expensive, but the tight collaboration between Sealed Air and the Moreno family — the owners of Olé Foods — allowed project trials to flow smoothly and resulted in proper sizing and placement of the artwork on the profile of the queso fresco packaging.


Packaging problems

Mexican food accounts for just over 60% of the ethnic food market and is highly competitive. Queso fresco, a fresh cheese that is one of the most popular Mexican food items, presents a unique challenge for brands that want to differentiate themselves.

Queso fresco is typically sold in round puck-shaped packages with brand information printed on the top and bottom only. Packages are stacked on top of each other in the retail dairy case, limiting shoppers to a side view and resulting in a “sea of white” unbranded packages. Olé Mexican Foods was determined to make its products stand out and concluded that printing on the profile of the thermoformed package was the answer.


A branding change

When Olé Foods reached out to Sealed Air, Sealed Air’s print technology and packaging experts sprang into action, developing a solution that would balance cost and performance, as well as provide clear, readable graphics on a thermoformed profile.

Olé Foods’ queso fresco was the first Hispanic cheese product in the dairy case to let consumers see the brand without having to pick it up. On top of a visually pleasing package with graphics that are easy to read at a distance, Olé’s product has immediate brand recognition.

Olé has applied the new packaging to two different brands and a total of eight SKUs, resulting in a 16% increase in sales over an eight-month period. Seeing the tremendous value of the queso fresco solution, Olé is consulting with Sealed Air to solve more challenges and deliver industry-changing innovations.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the visibility and recognition the new packaging has given us in the marketplace,” said Blake Johnson, vice president at Olé Foods. “Our product now has the differentiation that none of our competitors has. If you take a photo of the Hispanic cheese section, you’ll see a sea of white, with our product being the only one that stands out.”