Food Engineering

Fashion for squares

December 5, 2012
blue brown milk cartons half gallon
A carton is a carton, but a catchy look is forever.
 
That’s the takeaway Memphis-based Evergreen Packaging hoped to convey to food manufacturers with its Project Carton, a design competition the firm sponsored in cooperation with New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Students at the school were challenged to create impactful graphics for fiber-based cartons for milk, milk substitutes and juice. The winner was Philadelphia native Jennifer Ahern, who cited “the edgy drawings of Picasso” as the inspiration for her abstract rendition of a cow.
 
Paper cartons provide a superior printing surface and play to consumers’ earth-conscious sensibilities, but their shape can convey a stodgy image, allows Erin Reynolds, Evergreen’s marketing director. She hopes the design competition will raise food manufacturers’ awareness of the carton’s graphic possibilities and “inspire them to work with their own design teams” to develop creative looks and messages.
 
Evergreen customers, including Coca-Cola America and WhiteWave Foods Co., served as contest judges. “The form has been static, so how do you use it to meet market demands for eco-friendly packaging?” asks Andy Yates, Broomfield, CO-based WhiteWave’s director of design. Yates hopes the competition will expose up-and-coming designers to the complexities of food package design and the need to draw attention to a product on crowded retail shelves.
 
WhiteWave has built an in-house creative staff of 27, including 11 designers, to develop packages for new products and retool the look of existing SKUs. “It’s a speed-to-market thing,” Yates says of the large in-house team, and many food companies are building their own design competency instead of outsourcing the work. 
 
For more information:
Erin Reynolds, Evergreen Packaging, 901-821-2247, erin.reynolds@everpack.com