Leading companies serve up simple and sophisticated packages to delight customers.

Leading companies serve up simple and sophisticated packages to delight customers.

The ability to take a complex idea and turn it into something simple for the user is what creative package engineering is all about. But it’s not as easy to accomplish as it might sound. It only happens on a Tuesday in a month with an “r” in it when at least three planets align.

OK. It happens more often than that. And when it does, you’re probably looking at a market success.

Creative engineering...market success...Welcome to our annual Package of the Year Awards! Multiple chambers, simple directions and sophisticated technology stand out among the winners this year. Each, in its own way, makes the user’s life a little bit easier.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating these notable achievements. Congratulations to ConAgra, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronic Inc., Procter & Gamble and Wetbone Co.


Frozen dinner hits trifecta: healthy, quick and tasty
Originally published Sept. 07, p.38 -The frozen microwave meal has grown up. Adults rejoice!

ConAgra is building up a head of steam in the category with its new Healthy Choice Café Steamers. These casserole-type meals tap into the popularity of steaming foods in the microwave. The unique Steam Cooker package consists of a bottom bowl (which holds a sauce) and a top steamer basket (which contains meat, vegetables and pasta or rice). By separating the sauce from the other ingredients, the foods retain their individual flavor and texture, creating an appetizing and tasty meal.

The Steam Cooker gently heats the meal by allowing steam from the sauce to circulate throughout the upper basket. After heating, all the ingredients are mixed together in the large bottom bowl.

ConAgra launched 12 varieties of Café Steamers nationwide this July, with a suggested retail price of $3.49.

“Delivering healthful frozen entrées that taste great is a tremendous challenge that the entire frozen food category faces and is an important priority at Healthy Choice, and has been for almost 20 years,” says Bill Partyka, vice president of Healthy Choice marketing. “Building on the strength of the steaming trend, combined with our packaging innovation, Healthy Choice Café Steamers has the ability to reinvigorate the category.”


Portable water pouch pampers the pooch
Aug. 2007, p.42 -Today, a dog isn’t just man’s best friend: he’s considered a member of the family. And, as such, he’s on the go as much as we are-taking a walk, riding in the car. All this activity works up a thirst!

Sue Tyska and Tony Tropea, co-founders of Wetbone Co., saw an unmet need and invented a portable, potable source of pet refreshment. Wetbone Water to Go! is 16 ounces of vitamin-fortified water in a specially designed stand-up pouch shaped like a dog bone. The vision behind Wetbone was to give dogs the same drinking mobility that consumers now enjoy-portable, lightweight, resealable and easy to drink.

Here’s how the two-compartment, multi-serve pouch works: The owner tears off the top of the package and opens a press-to-close zipper to reveal a hammock-like drinking bowl. When the bottom of the package is squeezed, water runs up channels into this bowl for the dog to lap up. If the pet doesn’t consume all the water in the bowl, it runs down the channels back into the lower reservoir. The reclosable zipper is leak resistant.

The three-layer, polyester/foil/linear low-density polyethylene laminated pouch is made by the Ampac Flexibles business unit of Ampac Packaging LLC. During package development, the Wetbone Co. worked with Ampac to make sure that:

• the water flow rate from the reservoir to the drinking bowl was not too fast or too slow. Two 9-millimeter channels transfer water from the lower reservoir at a filling rate of five to seven seconds when the pack is squeezed.

• the sealing temperature and pressure was optimized to create a leak-proof seal. The right amount of heat minimizes the chance that radiant heat from the contact points could migrate through the pouch and close up the channels.

Wetbone Co. sells Wetbone Water to Go! for $1.99 through pet, retail, grocery and convenience stores in the U.S. In early 2008, the company will expand the line with two new products: Dental and Sport. Emlenton Water Bottling Co. is the contract filler/packer.

Ampac Flexibles


Educational packaging improves wound care
Sept. 07, p.44 -Medline Industries takes instructions pretty seriously. Especially after it discovered that patients, caregivers and nurses with little or no training would remove wound dressing from its liner, then throw away the dressing and try to apply the liner to the wound.

Medline needed a better way to communicate usage instructions, as well as product benefits. It teamed up with Deborah Adler, a senior designer at the design firm Milton Glaser Inc., to create new packaging for its wound care products. Silvasorb Cavity was the first to be redesigned and was introduced in late June. New packaging for the remaining wound care products will be available this month.

Sue MacInnes, Medline’s president of marketing, explains, “Our new package design eliminates confusion with clear, step-by-step information, making it hard for the health care professional or caregiver to do the wrong thing. The design actually creates a format that allows each package to serve as a two-minute course on advanced wound care. It eliminates the clutter and highlights critical information.”

Medline redesigned both the outer box and the inner pouch.

On the carton, the graphic design provides a hierarchy of data so the practitioner can quickly identify and select the correct product. This includes the product name, a definition of the product, the size of the dressing, the number of products in the box and the appropriate use. Medline uses a color-coded horizontal bar across the box top to identify the type of dressing.

Full instructions were added to the inner pouch, too, because the product is often removed from the box and then taken to a patient’s bedside for application. The pouch includes a crack-and-peel sticker to help keep track of when the dressing was changed, as well as a booklet that illustrates how to change a dressing.

Milton Glaser Inc.

Personal Care

P&G Beauty delivers a ‘positive’ experience
Oct. 2007, p.26 -Sometimes when an innovative package is developed, the results can be electric. Such is the case with the SK-II Air Touch foundation.

This cosmetic applicator uses ionization technology to deliver flawless foundation coverage. When women push a button on the compact, the foundation is given a positive charge as it is dispensed. As the makeup is applied, the positively charged molecules are immediately attracted to the negatively charged moisture particles in the skin. Thus, women get smooth, even coverage with much less effort than other foundations (and without the product adhering to hair, eyebrows and clothes).

The hand-held ergonomic device is small enough to be portable (although makeup experts say that the coverage is so good that touch-ups throughout the day are unnecessary).

Battery-operated, the SK-II Air Touch device (with product) sells for about $150. Refills, available in four shades, sell for about $40 each (two for $80) and hold 0.16 ounce (5 milliliters) of foundation. The refill pack, a circular pouch with an applicator at the top, slips into the base of the compact. The top clicks back on and the device is ready for action. It’s so easy to switch out refills that women can cover with one shade and then use a slightly darker shade to contour and highlight their face for a more professional finish.

Sergio Arreola, associate marketing director, Western World, SK-II, says, “The technology behind Air Touch Foundation took eight years to perfect-and we’re thrilled at how well the product has been received.”

Originally launched in Japan, SK-II is distributed in the U.S. at select Saks Fifth Avenue locations by P&G Beauty.


Side trigger brings allergy sufferers relief
Oct. 2007, p.20 -People with allergies suffer enough. The itching, watery eyes. The stuffed-up nose. The sinus pressure. The hard-to-use nasal sprayer.
Well...they don’t have to be a contortion artist to find relief now. Veramyst, a new once-a-day nasal spray from GlaxoSmithKline, comes in an ergonomic bottle with an easy-to-use side trigger.

The package is actually a container-within-a-container. GSK fills 10 grams of liquid into an amber glass bottle and seals it with a unique plug. The bottle then slides into the device shell from the bottom and seats with the nozzle at the top. It’s secured within the device through an interference fit of the collar and nozzle stem, which also helps prevent disassembly if the package is dropped. A bottom plug completes the package assembly, which is done by GSK in the UK.

Sounds simple, right? Actually, the package is quite complex in how it is designed and how it functions.

Design-The delivery device and pump consists of 20 components: one Type 1 amber glass bottle; 14 multi-cavity injection-molded components; two stamped gaskets; one stamped ferrule; one extruded tube; and one spring. The outer device components are made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), with the cap and trigger in matching blue. The device is assembled on high-speed automated lines by an outside company.

Function-Pressing the side button raises the bottle up toward the fixed nozzle and actuates the pump. The package delivers a metered dose, 120 per bottle, in a fine, scent-free mist, with smooth actuation that does not require awkward squeezing of the bottle sides.

GSK considered ease-of-use down to the details:
• The device fits easily in the user’s hand.

• Ridges on the device opposite the trigger aid in gripping.

• An overcap protects the nozzle tip and has a tab that keeps the trigger from being pressed accidentally.

• A window in the device lets the user see how much product is left in the bottle.