Sometimes it takes some really basic products to show what packaging can do. And what could be more basic than ketchup and spices? More...


You can always start a debate among packaging professionals by asking what they consider the single most important function of packaging. Product protection? Convenience? Point-of-sale appeal?

My belief is that not only are all of these important, but they can be summed up as a single concept: Get consumers to use the stuff.

Sometimes it takes packaging for some really basic products to stress that concept. And what could be more basic than ketchup and spices?

They’re in just about every pantry and refrigerator. They’re used on all kinds of food. Spices have been around since the dawn of civilization, and ketchup, seemingly, since the dawn of American civilization.

But sometimes it takes the simplest, most basic products to show you just what packaging can do. The leading American purveyors of ketchup and spices-H.J. Heinz Co. and McCormick & Co., respectively-have introduced packaging concepts that open up whole new dimensions.

McCormick has rolled out Recipe Inspirations, a great concept that seems like simplicity itself. It’s a blister card with just the right amount of spices needed to make the recipe printed on a card on the back. And Heinz has developed a revolutionary improvement on fast-food single-serve ketchup packets, a package that traditionally has spread annoyance faster than it spreads ketchup. Its new Dip & Squeeze packet offers french-fry fans what amounts to a neat little tub.

If there’s a more pure demonstration of the power of packaging than these two companies’ offerings, I don’t know what it is.

The more basic the food, the harder it is to emerge from the ubiquity of “commodity.” With all due respect to the great formulations people at Heinz and McCormick, ketchup and spices just don’t offer as much potential for distinguishing yourself from your competitors as, say, frozen dinners. That highlights the importance of packaging.

McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations will make sure the spices inside don’t sit in the pantry collecting dust. Heinz’s Dip & Squeeze won’t sit forgotten at the bottom of the fast-food bag.

It’s all about use. A simple concept-as basic as ketchup and spices.