According to a report from the American Pet Products Association regarding industry statistics and trends, Americans are pampering their pets by purchasing items for them that go well beyond the bare necessities. Pets now receive gourmet and organic food options with special consideration for allergies, dietary restrictions or a special healthy diet. Today’s animal companions are offered a variety of products featuring the same healthy trends and ingredients currently finding their way into human food, and pet food companies want their packaging to reflect this new awareness for health, pet pampering and the environment, as well as a focus on consumer convenience.
Pet food packages strive not only to emphasize the beneficial ingredients in the food but also the quality of those ingredients. Blackwood Pet Food’s full line of super-premium cat foods recently underwent a redesign by Minneapolis-based design consultancy, Ideas that Kick. The new design features key nutritional information on the front of each bag. This allows consumers to see valuable information at first glance.
“This design concept was first applied to Blackwood’s super-premium dog recipes,” adds Stefan Hartung, Kick creative director. “The combination of photography, key facts and a clear sense of content organization really help the brand stand out on shelves.”
“Soon after we introduced our new package redesign, we began hearing great things from customers old and new. We’ve received so many compliments, which all say the same thing. Blackwood really stands out on store shelves,” says Matt Golladay, Blackwood Pet Food vice president.
Packages make a difference
Pet owners care about the health of their pets and the health of the planet they inhabit with those pets. As the trend toward sustainable packaging continues, pet food companies are taking care to package foods in more efficient containers that feature less waste and more recycled and recyclable materials. Exopack (www.exopack.com) recently took a Silver Award in Printing Achievement from the Flexible Packaging Association for their Nestlé Purina ONE Cat entry. This package utilizes a single web, surface printed MET PET layer and electron beam coatings to deliver an impactful metalized appearance while providing print protection throughout Nestlé’s distribution channels. The use of a single web print design, combined with the elimination of a lamination layer from the overall structure, results in a reduction in material usage, energy usage and printing plate costs.
According to PMMI’s (www.PMMI.org) “Pet Food Market Assessment 2013” brands are looking to packaging to set their product apart. With pet food packagers trying to make packaging easier to handle and more outstanding on shelves, new challenges arise regarding filling and labeling.
“The shape of a package changes how it’s held in place, filled and labeled,” says Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development, PMMI. “Collaboration between suppliers and manufactures is key to getting the equipment configurations just right.”
Consumers seek convenience
According to PMMI, convenience features are also important to consumers. Manufacturers are faced with addressing needs of female and elderly consumers. Pet food that is difficult to carry, serve or handle is less likely to attract a costumer. According to research conducted by Weatherchem, women are responsible for the pet product buying decision in 8 out of 10 households. If products are not easy for them to mange, they will be less likely to choose that brand.
Among the solutions are handles on packages (and, as a result more rigid PET containers); modification of cap closures to make them easier to open; and dispensers incorporated into pet food packages. Resealable closures are an important to consumers.
“As with human food, the closure is critical to maintaining product quality, and considering that most pet food comes in multi-use packages, keeping food fresh and contaminant-free is an especially high priority,” Izquierdo says.
Seeking to offer better pet food closures, Velcro Industries has teamed up with Hill’s® Pet Nutrition to integrate PRESS-LOK® closure technology into pet food packaging to ensure an easy, consumer friendly experience.
“With our focus on creating smart products, services and technologies wherever items can be connected, we developed the PRESS-LOK closure solution to provide a superior experience for our customers,” says Jurjen Jacobs , Vice President of Global Marketing, Velcro Industries. “VELCRO® Brand products are about the art of connecting. We strive to create smart products, services and technologies that will benefit brands and consumers across a wide spectrum of industries and we ensure a secure closure with our innovative PRESS-LOK fastening solution.”
“There are many tangible consumer benefits that the PRESS-LOK closure system provides to our Hill’s Science Diet® packaging,” says Christopher Rector, director of marketing of Hill’s U.S. “The PRESS-LOK application provides a fast, effective and stress-free bag closure solution. PRESS-LOK closure opens and closes easily and quickly, keeping the kibble in and the paws out.”
The PRESS-LOK closure contains an easy alignment that allows the hooks to engage without precise line-up, securing closure with great burst strength to maintain the package integrity that Hill’s Science Diet customers expect. Additionally, the closure has an audible click, which allows consumers to hear their pet food packages open and close so they know there is a tight seal.
Pet food packaging has been closely following major trends for human food by featuring quality ingredients up front, using more sustainable materials and giving pets owners the convenient packages they desire.