Category-busting Simply...Inspired serves up form and function using a MAP thermoform and colorfully printed, peelable lidding.

by Rick Lingle, Editor in Chief

Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Inc., Bloomington, MN, the retail grocery subsidiary of The Schwan Food Co. and makers of Freschetta pizza, has taken a whole new approach to frozen pizza with the introduction of two new frozen pizza products: Freschetta Simply...Inspired Pizzas and Freschetta By The Slice (see sidebar at bottom).

For the introduction of whole pizza Simply…Inspired, Schwan’s packaging staff started from scratch. The staff was directed by Marketing’s request to “reinvent frozen pizza packaging,” says senior packaging engineer Rick Green. “Frozen pizza is a category that hadn’t seen a whole lot of new packaging in a long time.”

Along with Jane Chase, senior director packaging innovation and R&D, Green worked with vendors and design companies to develop and adjust the packaging following input from focus group testing.

What they ended up with was a category-busting thermoform package. It’s sealed with flexible, printed lidstock that offers an easy-peel tab and clear view window. The back of the opaque white thermoform features a large, colorful pressure-sensitive label. Inside, the 12-inch diameter pizza is cushioned with a corrugated pad.

The package back features graphics on a full-coverage pressure-sensitive label applied over ridges that
add strength.

Growing the category through packaging

Schwan’s refers to the sealed thermoform as the new “Fresch-Taste Seal” packaging that includes a modified atmosphere to prolong shelf life and keep the ingredients fresh and bright.

As far as the packaging details, Schwan’s packaging team will only disclose that the thermoform is made from a barrier laminate. However, they creditBemis Co. for its involvement in developing the thermoform.

Why the radical move to a thermoform package?

“Marketing really wanted to grow the category, not just get consumers who buy pizza to buy more of ours,” responds Chase.

Adds Green, “They wanted us to go after consumers who are not a current purchaser of frozen pizza-either those that have left the category or are new to the category.”

The packaging is as fully loaded as the thin-crust pizza, with benefits of freshness, appearance, convenience, sustainability, and easy opening, according to Green and Chase.

“It’s all about growing the category,” summarizes Chase.

This new package sets Freschetta Simply…Inspired Pizzas apart in the frozen pizza section and fits perfectly in home freezers. In fact, the combination of the thin-crust pizza and low-profile thermoform require a clearance of just 1 ¼ in. The thermoform measures about 13 inches to a side; it is arched along one side and flat along the other three sides. The bottom of the thermoform has ridges for rigidity.

From a sustainability standpoint, the thermoform is an environmental win in terms of the amount of packaging. According to Schwan, it uses 30% less packaging by weight than a traditional pizza carton. By eliminating the outer box, Simply...Inspired saves 1,378 tons of paperboard yearly, the equivalent of more than 23,000 trees.

The pizzas are packaged on a new production line located at the company’s facility in Florence, KY. In March 2011, the innovative packaging received Institute of Packaging Professionals AmeriStar recognition in the food category.

The pizzas are available in eight varieties that retail for $6.79. F&BP

For More Information

Bemis Co.

Two layers of susceptor-laminated flaps on the tray inside intensify the heating and keep the toppings contained.

SIDEBAR: Freschetta serves up a slice of package innovation

Smaller in size, but no less complex in scope, is the packaging for Freschetta By The Slice. All four varieties of Freschetta By The Slice provide oven-baked taste, right out of the microwave, thanks to microwave susceptor technology from Inline Packaging. The wedge-shaped paperboard tray that holds each slice has two susceptor-laminated flaps that are folded over before the packager adds the pizza.

The purpose of the double susceptor flaps is two fold, according to Schwan packaging engineer Rick Kobylinski: “The double susceptor system intensifies the heat that is focused on the crust to provide the superior crispness and browning to the pizza. The purpose in using the two flap design is to insure that if there is any bubbling of the cheese and sauce off of the pizza that the tray is leak proof.”

Small die-cut tabs beneath the tray keep the tray/pizza off the microwave carousel. The susceptor tray and pizza are overwrapped in clear shrink film and inserted inside a paperboard carton. This combination package affords time-saving convenience and eliminates the use of a consumer-supplied microwave plate.

“When our consumer is time-strapped, Freschetta By The Slice provides the perfect solution when seeking one perfect slice of pizza in minutes,” says Mary Brown, Freschetta senior director of marketing.

Freschetta By The Slice retails for $1.99.

For more information

Inline Packaging