FBP1214 CoverStory Chart inbodyWhat I like most about writing about packaging is seeing the endless innovations and the new and improved products that help us out in our daily lives. New packages with convenience features, new designs that stand out and new packaging formats for familiar items are unveiled every day. For this year in review story, we compiled the best new packages that we showcased over the year. Each one hits on emerging consumer trends and offers features that have us talking about them, long after their debut.

Two thousand fourteen brought us various options in packaging. Most new launches satisfied at least one of the consumer trends that are hot right now including resealability, single-serve packaging, eco-friendly materials and uniqueness. What they all have in common is they make our lives a little easier and enjoyable.

On-the-go snacking is on the rise

You’ve read over and over that snacking is on the rise—we snack in our cars, at our desks, walking down the street and in front of the TV. In April this year, we told you how Oscar Mayer is capitalizing on this trend with their P3 Portable Protein Pack, packs of meat, cheese and nuts, designed for active consumers looking for a snack to help keep them going throughout the day. Supported by a major national marketing effort, P3 Portable Protein Pack is poised to become a major force in the growing $19 billion protein-snacking category, which has been driven by consumer desires for protein-rich snacks such as Greek yogurt or protein bars. The packs are available nationwide and can be found in the refrigerated meat case at grocery and convenience stores.

Consumers lead busy and active lives. Busy schedules demand foods that fit into those lifestyles. While fast food serves up drive-thru fare, today’s consumers are seeking healthier choices that fit their dietary needs. To meet consumer demand for fresh-snacks, Ready Pac Foods, Inc. has optimized its Ready Snax line. In our March issue we wrote how the company added flavors and reworked the packaging to provide better convenience, portability and freshness for consumers. The new snacking trays are vertical to improve shelf shapes and feature new labels with expanded nutrition information.

In the March snack food feature, we wrote about the GIANTS Snacks sunflower seeds in the resealable bag. And at PACK EXPO International last month I got to see and touch the bag at the Zip-Pak booth. Working with TechniPac, a leading flexible packaging converter, in conjunction with Zip-Pak, a global leader in materials and machinery for resealable packaging, GIANTS Snacks introduced consumers to a new level of convenience for the many flavors of its GIANTS Sunflower Seeds. The company switched to Zip-Pak’s Vector™ closure for its most popular 5-ounce and 5.7-ounce sizes of sunflower seeds in all varieties. The package features a zipper at the top of the bag that only runs across a portion of the top, for easier pouring. Vector features a proprietary self-sealing matrix that closes securely without exact alignment of opposing segments. The solution provides tactile and audible feedback for reassurance of complete fastening with each use.

It’s all about convenience

Resealability has a place not only with snacks but with cereal options too. And instead of a zipper, Gypsy Crunch offers their granola in bags fitted with a Velcro closure. Over the summer we wrote about Gypsy Crunch, the boutique, handcrafted granola company established in 2010 in Laguna Beach, CA. The company started on a whim when founder, Randi Nash, was playing around in the kitchen trying to create a healthy, yummy, breakfast/snack treat that would satisfy both adults and little ones. Now the cereal is available in multiple flavors and is packaged in the innovative Velcro brand resealable 14-ounce package. The bright colors and vibrant packaging easily sets it apart from other granolas. Gypsy Crunch can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest, in Specialty Chain Supermarkets including, Whole Foods Markets and New Season’s. 

You know what is easier to use than a traditional hold and pour bottle? A squeeze bottle, especially when using it for sticky, gooey maple syrup. Just this fall we showcased Butternut Mountain Farm’s new product that has changed the way we use maple syrup. The new squeeze bottle eliminates the mess, waste and poor portion control of traditional maple syrup packaging.

Butternut Mountain Farm is a family-owned business in Vermont that produces and distributes locally grown, organic products. The granddaughters of the company’s founder came up with the idea for the squeeze bottle. Sensing that the idea could lead to a great innovation, their mother, Emma Marvin, the company’s marketing director, set off on a yearlong quest to create the perfect container. The new design eliminates the sticky mess that typically accompanies maple syrup. The squeeze bottle also makes cooking with maple syrup more convenient and encourages its use as a condiment.

For deli meats and cheeses, we often think of the flexible package adorning store shelves, but one salami manufacturer has found a new way to offer the meat to its consumers and they seem to like it.

While flexible packaging is spreading to most industries and doing well with consumers, Salami manufacturer, Norwegian Grilstad, found its customers did not like the tear-open flexible package for sliced salami. They preferred a twist-off, screw-on lid on a rigid container. In response, Grilstad switch to the SuperLock package from RPC Suerfos. This new package, shown in our June/July issue, allowed the company to offer the convenient storage, serving and resealing consumers wanted. Grilstad worked with RPC to suit the package to their product. They turned the pot upside down so the lid would also act as a serving dish, which makes the product even easier for the consumer to use. The package twists open and closed so it can be easily and reliably resealed to minimize food waste.

“We chose the SuperLock pot because it is the only solution on the market offering three desirable qualities all in one: an oxygen barrier, decoration with In-Mold Labeling and a twist-off screw-on lid,” said Terje Sørnes, development manager at Grilstad. “When we came up with the idea of using the pot upside down, we found it so obvious that we had to ask ourselves why no one had thought of it before.”

Another rigid container continues to catch our eye, this one from our February issue. The Ainsley Harriott brand expanded its current range of products with what they said is the market’s first-ever soup product to be stored at ambient temperature and packaged in a tub design. A unique packaging solution from Clondalkin Group company Chadwicks means this package will have the premium look and feel of fresh soup with a shelf life of up to 12 months.

Chadwicks’ technical team created a UV flexo foil recessed lid which enables the soup pots to be filled at very high temperatures. The double recessed lid allows for contraction during the cooling process.

Craig Roach, head of Bought in Goods at Symington’s explained, “During the development phase paneling on the pots was a key challenge. We have to fill at extremely high temperatures and as the product cooled and contracted it created a vacuum and caused the pots to distort…. They immediately identified the issue and were able to provide a solution in a very short time frame.”

“Chadwicks’ ‘Top Hat’ lid creates an air space allowing for ‘pull down’ during the cooling process so it’s the lid that contracts and not the container,” continued Roach.

Green with envy

Packaging is looking to nature to evoke a natural, organic or traditional home-cooked feel. In our May issue, we covered how The Honest Kitchen is playing off this trend with their redesigned pet food packages. The natural colors and messaging strike a chord with caring pet owners looking to give their pets wholesome nutrition in an environmentally conscious package. The Honest Kitchen has also redesigned their packaging to better suit its brand. The new packaging was created with designer partner Bulldog Drummond. Illustrator, Natalya Zahn created hand-painted illustrations of the company’s ingredients, along with Honest Kitchen’s employees’ own pets to adorn the new packages.

“We wanted the packaging to evoke a very natural, culinary look and feel to play up the beautiful ingredients we use in our human grade foods,” said Lucy Postins, The Honest Kitchen founder and CEO. “We’re placing a heavy emphasis on the meat or fish source in each recipe, more clearly defining the life stage and differentiating the grain-free from whole-grain diets to help shoppers more easily select the recipe that’s right for their pet.”

More than just natural-looking, one package is made from nature. Tetra Pak, the world leader in food processing and packaging solutions, launched what the company says is the industry’s first carton made entirely from plant based, renewable packaging materials. The new Tetra Rex® carton will be the first in the market to have bio-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE) films and bio-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) caps, both derived from sugar cane, in addition to Forest Stewardship Council certified paperboard.

Developed in partnership with Braskem, one of the world’s leading biopolymers producers, the new Tetra Rex package (which we showcased on our website) will be commercially available in early 2015. Tetra Pak customers using the standard 1 liter Tetra Rex with TwistCap OSO 34 can easily transfer to the new version without the need for any additional investment or modification to their existing filling machines.

Bottles or cans, that is the question. One beer package from Grolsch begs to ask that question again, but this time the answer just might be a jar. In August we covered Grolsch, a Romanian beer brand, which launched “The Jar.” This new package looks like a classic mason jar. The reusable package prominently features the name of the brand.  According to a press release from Canadean, Catherine O’ Connor, senior analyst at Canadean, predicts the packaging will entice consumers to try the product and repeat the purchase.

O’Connor said, “Grolsch’s ‘The Jar’ will boost brand loyalty long-term. Consumers feel more connected to brands that have a presence in their home, with novel branded glassware acting as a memory aid and thirst generator.”

There you have it, some of the brightest and best packages of 2014. These packages stand out with more features and aesthetics to satisfy consumer cravings. Consumers want easy to use, easy to store and easy to eat, and they want convenience and aesthetics while being environmentally friendly. Today it seems we want it all and these packages prove that you might just get what you ask for.