An interview with PepsiCo's head of beverage packaging globally sparks one with the co-founder of start-up venture in.gredients, 'America's first no-packaging grocery store.’




For those of us in this business, including on the editorial side, packaging is a way of life all of the time. Or at least 24/7 six days a week as a former colleague once infamously wrote.

Even packaging professional’s need a day of rest, though remaining ever-vigilant to packaging becomes an unshakeable habit.

Certainly that’s done while shopping, of course…who doesn’t like to window shop for new packages while shopping for whatever?

Or while reading newspapers. For me, it’s a weekly ritual on Sundays to peruse the FSIs-Free Standing Inserts-looking for new products of interest and those with innovative packaging.

Or while watching television. I recall the commercial for Miller’s Vortex bottle around Super Bowl.

I recently interviewed PepsiCo’s Denise Lefebvre, VP, Global Beverage Packaging, about market drivers, one of which she identified as sustainability. But she qualified that by adding, “I would tie that into localization. Consumers are really about getting to authentic products that are local to them and that they know where everything came from.”

'America's first no-packaging grocery store'

Her comment connected the dots for me to a unique kind of store, www.in.gredients.com, billed as “America’s first no-packaging grocery store," that I heard about just the past week. It is expected to open soon in Austin, TX.  It takes localization to the extreme--it's just one step removed from growing your own produce.

It asks shoppers to bring their own containers to shop for items from dry bulk items and dairy to beer and household cleaners. It will feature predominantly local and organic foods; the founders claim that out-of-season produce and processed foods contribute to unhealthy eating and energy waste.

“Truth be told, what’s normal in the grocery business isn’t healthy for consumers or the environment,” says in.gredients co-founder Christian Lane.

It sounds very much like a formalized farmers’ market or a supermarket produce section expanded with beer, dairy, and other products.

If you want to buy beer at in.gredients, it’s strictly BYOC-bring your own container to get it fresh from the keg.

I had surmised as I’m sure you would, too, that truth be told, it’s impossible not to have packaging. Besides providing a catchy tagline, I think what was meant was that there’s no primary packaging used per se.

More accurate, but far less marketable.

Lane confirmed for me that packaging does indeed play a role: Although primary packaging is eliminated on the store side, bulk bag-in-boxes and bins will remain in vogue, though corrugated will be diverted from landfills. “We will repurpose and recycle any of the packaging coming into our store,” Lane says.

He feels the converging trends of sustainability, health and wellness make the timing ripe for this kind of back-to-the-basics business proposition.

“At this point, we have to make substantial changes to how we consume things,” Lane offers, adding this advice to packagers: “Let’s keep pushing the boundaries on packaging so that we use less packaging and there’s a more effective life cycle.”

This also serves as a reminder that packaging is everywhere, even at a “packaging-free” grocery store.