Food Engineering

The sweet zip of success

October 1, 2004
New package design enhances manufacturer's sugar sales.

The zipper on the La Reina packaging uses Grip-Strips for easier opening and coextruded sealant layers for lower temperature bonding to the film structure. Source: Zip-Pak.
A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. But, if we put one rose in more consumer-friendly packaging than another, we might command a better price or even increased market share. And that, Juliet, is exactly how Grupo Embolsador answered the question, "what's the significance of good package design?"

After forming in 1989, Grupo Embolsador soon became one of the largest sugar manufacturing and processing companies in Mexico.



At the time, the quality of sugar produced in Mexico varied greatly. By establishing a consistently high quality product and implementing guidelines for plant cleanliness, Grupo Embolsador bought several small mills from the government and became a leader in the sugar market.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but, in recent years, Grupo Embolsador began seeing smaller, low-cost, low-volume sugar operations improving quality and competing solely on price. The company realized it was time to reconsider how it went to market. "Like most commodities, sugar is sugar," says Leopoldo Buchanan, the company's plant manager. "We couldn't differentiate by changing its look, feel or taste, so we decided that a new package design was the answer."

After some extensive market research, construction on a new $5 million plant, designed to be fully equipped with standup vertical form/fill/seal machinery for the zipper packaging, began in 2001 and was completed by May 2003. Working with Zip-Pak, Grupo Embolsador selected the E-273 zipper for its packaging needs. Bags of La Reina sugar are now packaged using eight vertical/form/fill/seal machines that apply zippers during the pouch forming process. When all eight machines are in operation, the plant can produce 500 metric tons of sugar per day.

The finished product stands upright in a resealable pouch that is formed with multi-layered laminate film. The display-ready pouches can be laid flat in cartons for compact distribution and can be moved straight from cartons to store shelves, saving time and providing convenience for retailers and consumers. "Our first promotional campaign took off extremely well," says Buchanan. "Retail store owners who had previously overlooked our product and made purchases based on price now want to start contracts for the newly packaged La Reina brand."

Grupo Embolsador is also quickly driving brand preference with end users. Buchanan says consumers recognized La Reina as the first sugar brand offered in a resealable stand-up pouch. "The concept of storing sugar with a single step in original packaging without dumping unused contents into a separate container has instantly caught on," says Buchanan. "Consumers are asking where our zippered pouch has been all this time."

A further sign of success, product sales have been higher than projected and the company is confident it will reach its goal to export its sugar in the new packaging. "Revamping our package design was a big decision we had to make, but it made sense," continues Buchanan. "It's already paying off because people recognize the zippered stand-up pouch exclusively as brand elements of La Reina."

For more information:

Melanie Gravelle, 815-468-6500 or melg@zippak.com