Focus on mass merchandisers packaging options as well as labels and shrink sleeves

Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese 15-pack multipack is an example of the billboard marketing a multipack must provide in the club store retail environment.

Billboard packs shine for mass merchandisers

As more consumers buy their goods at large mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Target and club stores like BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco, these high-volume retailers have tremendous influence when it comes to the types of merchandise they carry as well as the type of packaging used.

Consumer goods companies, in an effort to stake out shelf space within these high-volume retailers, are complying with retailer demands in any way possible - including packaging specifications. According to "Club Store Packaging and Beyond," a new report written by packaging consultant Jim Peters and published by Packaging Strategies, discount mass merchandisers are emphasizing shelf impact, the use of multipacks, and logistical efficiencies such as the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking methods.

Although these retailers have mass consumer appeal, their packaging requests are anything but standard. "Different retailers appeal to slightly different demographics, and they target their offering to their specific customers," says Peters. "This really requires a change in thinking for package design. Package design before was often ‘One size fits all.' A standard supermarket and a traditional drug store weren't all that different in their merchandising strategies. The mass retailers are different. The retailers believe they know what motivates their customers to buy and they want packaging that supports that."

Secondary packaging plays a much bigger merchandising role in these stores, notes Peters, who adds that club stores will often drop full pallets on their store floors and the pallet must do the selling. Multipacks are also a fast growing segment of secondary packaging. Club stores have trended away from selling multiples of large, multi-serve packages to selling traditional consumer-sized or single-serve units in multipacks.

As an example, Peters cites Kraft Foods' Macaroni and Cheese multipack, which contains 15 individual boxes of the product. "The graphics on the multipack create a billboard and clearly identify the brand and the quantity of the product inside. You have to do that with the multipack - it's a selling tool, not just a bundling technique," says Peters.

Kraft Foods recently won a "Golden Mummy" award from the films business of ExxonMobil Chemical for this package. The food company recently changed the packaging format for its 12 and 15-pack multipacks by replacing a shrink film with ExxonMobil's Bicor AB-X film to improve appearance and eliminate loading problems due to skewed bundles. Cello-Foil Products, Battle Creek, MI, converts this package for Kraft.

In terms of primary packaging, the trend is the same at mass merchandisers as it is among traditional retailers - replacing glass with plastic. "We continue to hear that the club stores and super centers are pressing for plastic alternatives to glass because of their mass display format. They are not staffed to handle clean-ups due to breakage," says Doug Robinson, vice president, marketing for PET container converter Constar International.

Whether it be plastic, glass, flexible, metal or paperboard, all packaging suppliers will now have to respond not only to consumer trends, but mass merchandisers' demands as well.

For more information:
Club Store Packaging and Beyond, Packaging Strategies

Brenda Donnelly, ExxonMobil Chemical Films Business,, 315-966-1084

AET Films’ holographic label films can be used with metal, glass or plastic container labels.

Holographic label films add sparkle to beverage packaging

The use of holography is a sure-fire way to catch consumers' eyes. New Castle, DE-based AET Films has taken heed of this marketing tool with its new Mirage™ holographic label films. AET has recently installed its own embossing equipment "with the objective of taking our knowledge of high speed, cost effective film production and applying that skill to the area of holographic embossing," says AET Films business director Martin Aleksis.

Mirage films can be used with metal, glass or plastic container labels in low shrink and non-shrink roll-fed label applications and are available in embossed and embossable base films for converting.

While holographic labels can effectively light up a package's graphics, the high price of these labels is often an issue. Aleksis admits that while holographic labels are more expensive than non-holographic labels, the cost/value ratio is worth it. "If a label doesn't work to inform and help sell your product, then it doesn't matter how much it costs," says Aleksis. "Holography is a way to bring dynamic appeal to a product on the store shelf and it is a very effective marketing tool in the right applications."

AET is currently commercial in a number of applications in the flexible packaging, pressure-sensitive and boxboard arena and is working on potential projects with end-users for their roll-fed holographic labeling as well.

For more information:
Martin Aleksis, AET Films, 302-326-5558

A full-body shrink sleeve hugs the curves of Hellmann’s Dippin’ Sauce container, which recently won the Association for Dressings and Sauces’ Package of the Year award.

Hellmann's Dippin' Sauce takes a dip in a full-body shrink sleeve

When bottles have a distinct shape, the use of full-body shrink sleeves work to accentuate that shape like few other labels can. This is the case with Hellmann's Dippin' Sauce - a dressing from Unilever Bestfoods NA that recently won the Association for Dressings and Sauces' Package of the Year award.

The patented bottle structure and label graphics were designed by in-house designers from Bestfoods in conjunction with New York-based design firm Interbrand. The asymmetrical container, which stands inverted, features a full-body, rotogravure printed polyvinyl chloride shrink sleeve label from Fort Dearborn Company, Niles, IL. The label was printed at Fort Dearborn's Brunswick, GA facility.

"Consumers love the unique upside-down design that clearly communicates the fun positioning of Dippin' Sauce and makes the product easy to dispense," notes Mark Olney, vice president and general manager, Dressings, for Unilever Bestfoods NA. "The shrink-wrap graphics accentuate the unique bottle structure while communicating the key uses of dipping and saucing foods."

For more information:
Domenick Bottini, Fort Dearborn Company, 201-512-3878

Extended shelf life tray for case ready meat

Pactiv Corporation introduced an extended shelf life (ESL) tray for the red meat case ready market. According to Pactiv, the new ESL technology can improve sealing time, resulting in faster throughput speeds and efficiency for meat processors. Pactiv's also offers the ability for co-extrusion used to manufacture dual-color ESL trays.
For more information:

Pactiv Corporation

El’Agance labels duplicate the appearance of acid etching on glass containers. The PETG labels can be applied to glass or plastic bottles and create a frosted appearance.

Shrink labels provide alternative to acid etching

In the competitive wine and spirits market, where the way a bottle looks is sometimes as important as how the product inside of it tastes, labeling is of paramount importance. Keeping this in mind, Croydon, PA-based heat shrinkable film label producer Gilbreth recently introduced its El'Agance full body shrink sleeve labels, which appear as etched glass.

According to Gilbreth, the El'Agance labels duplicate the effects of acid etching, which is a traditional method of applying lettering, monograms or designs to glass. The El'Agance labels are constructed of polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) and can be applied to glass or plastic bottles to create a distinctive, full-body frosted appearance through surface printing and ink.

The labels are applied to clear containers, allowing wine and spirits manufacturers to reduce costs associated with warehousing pre-decorated bottles. In addition, because the El'Agance labels are applied in one single step, the decorating process is simplified by eliminating the need to etch the bottle itself and then add a pressure-sensitive label.

For more information:
Jennifer Hirsch, Gilbreth, 800-630-2413

The use of clean graphics on a shrink sleeve label helped Mayfield Dairy achieve the premium look it wanted to re-introduce its orange juice products to the market.

Sleeve labels help re-launch OJ

When Mayfield Dairy wanted to introduce a new, redesigned 1-quart size of its orange juice to the market, it turned to shrink sleeves to convey a clean, premium image. Mayfield Dairy's shrink label supplier for its Chug bottle line, Seal-It, Farmingdale, NY, is now also supplying the Athens, TN-based company with heat-shrinkable polyvinyl chloride (PVC) labels for its orange juice in a new 1-quart high-density polyethylene bottle as well as for a relaunched pint bottle.

According to Seal-It, Mayfield chose the PVC shrink label for its ability to evenly shrink to the contours of the bottle and provide 360-degree, distortion-free graphics as well as a bar code, nutrition facts and ingredients listings.

Mayfield Dairy also wanted the new labels, made of 2-mil PVC and reverse printed in eight colors by a modified flexographic process, to have a premium look. The labels feature vibrant printing with images of oranges growing on a vine on a clean white background. The labels also indicate the addition of calcium, which is a new ingredient to the product.

"The emphasis of the redesign was that we added calcium," says Alan Owen, marketing manager, Mayfield Dairy. "We wanted something that was very clean looking and conveyed the message of the addition of calcium. We believe this is a very premium looking package. We're very happy with the outcome."

For more information:
Barbara Drillings, Seal-It, Inc., 800-325-3965

On-the-go single-serve beverage cartons

International Paper's Micro-Pak beverage cartons are available in 4, 6, 8, and 10 oz. single-serve sizes and have a unique size and shape for portability as well as to fit into car drink holders. The Micro-Pak features Tru Taste Gold, International Paper's patented Barrier-Pak board which enables the cartons to retain the "true" taste of the beverage and a higher level of vitamin C. The cartons help lengthen the shelf life of the product and provide package integrity, according to the supplier. The Micro-Pak carton can be formed, filled and sealed on Evergreen Packaging's EMP-1 machine at speeds up to 8,400 cartons per hour (140 cartons per minute).

International Paper

High-barrier bone-in shrink bag

Pechiney Plastic Packaging introduced a ClearShield high-barrier bone-in shrink bag for fresh beef and pork. ClearShield film features a coextrusion technology which results in a bone-in bag that uses no patches or additional lamination layer and provides total perimeter puncture resistance, even in the sealing area. According to Pechiney, the ClearShield bag's toughness and durability reduces on-line leaker rates by as much as 15 percent and virtually eliminates post-shipping leakers. It also offers oxygen and moisture barrier protection, extending the shelf life of meat products.

Pechiney Plastic Packaging

Interactive closure technology for beverages

Portola Packaging Inc. has introduced its Fusion cap, designed to allow consumers to enhance drinks by adding flavor or vitamins by twisting the two-piece resealable closure which releases the additives into the drink. By using the Fusion cap, consumers are able to mix a powder, tablet or liquid additive into the drink at the point of use. The design aims to extend the life of beverages and the potency of the additives by keeping them separate until ready for consumption. The caps can be designed to standard neck finishes for PET and HDPE bottle systems.

Portola Packaging, Inc.

Tall spout dispenser

Rexam Closures & Containers tall spout dispenser (TSD) family features Rexam's snap-back hinge that the company claims opens farther than competitive dispensers. The new TSD is available for a 33/400 and 38/400 finish. The TSD family is available lined or with Rexam's linerless seal, which allows the top to stay out of the product flow for improved directional dispensing. The closure also allows for cleaner product dispensing of many squeezable food products including maple syrup, chocolate sauce, ketchup, honey, mayonnaise, and other squeezable condiments.

Rexam Closures & Containers;