Getting Fresh: Misperceptions about Packaging
My brother is an architect. So I quickly discovered that “Less is more,” as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the famed father of minimalist design, so succinctly pointed out.
Lately, the less is more catchphrase has become a mantra for those in the “green” movement, heralding efforts at minimizing carbon footprints, decreasing energy use, reducing waste, streamlining supply chains, improving resource use, well, you get it. Today, nearly every major corporation’s strategic plan espouses this philosophy under the broader umbrella of sustainability.
Personally, I’ve had mixed views about this method of being “green.” Sure, we all can do more to reduce waste, conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint. Nevertheless, the scope of the problem is much more complex than simply sorting paper from metal and/or food scraps or taking public transportation.
There are economic considerations, logistical consequences and social implications that go well beyond just composting those leaves in the back yard. As Oller Mannertorp, president and chief executive officer of Multifilm Packaging Corp. pointed out when I recently visited his facility in Elgin, Ill., there are neighboring communities that - in the name of going green - have either banned paper or plastic for carrying one’s groceries.
Moreover, as Mannertorp notes, it’s a shame more average consumers don’t understand that many of those plastic bags make an excellent fuel. It’s a question of having the laws and proper infrastructure in place to make real progress toward true recyclability.
During this most recent Pack Expo show here in Chicago, which had an impressive turnout, I had a opportunity to sit down with Hans Werner Reinhard, executive vice president of Mess Dusseldorf GmbH, Bernd Jablonowski, director of interpack, and Friedbert Klefenz, president of Bosch Packaging Technology and vice-president of the interpack processes and packaging 2011 advisory council.
For those of you who are not familiar with interpack (www.interpack.com), this triennial exhibition is the largest packaging show in the world. It also happens to be the largest venue for confectionery processing and packaging equipment.
I’ll just throw some numbers at you to give you an example of how large is large when interpack is concerned. In 2008, there were 2,746 exhibitors from 60 countries. Nearly 179,000 attendees strolled through 19 halls, three of which were dedicated solely to confectionery processing.
It’s pretty much more of the same in 2011, says Jablonowski. There are, however, a couple of changes. First, there will be four halls (1 through 4), which will be dedicated to confectionery. Let’s just say that everyone still loves candy and that there are many companies out there trying to make producing and packaging it easier.
A second major change, Jablonowski pointed out, is that in addition to sponsoring conferences on bioplastics, metallic packaging and innovation, there will be a separate conference dedidated to the topic, “Save Food.”
As Reinhard explains, this will be the first time that the show will focus on dissecting the advantages associated with packaging. Recognizing that most consumers tend to have a negative perception of packaging, that the headlines often speak of excess packaging as opposed to necessary packaging, interpack’s show leaders have organized a congress that will detail how critical the right kind of packaging is in preserving and saving food as it moves from the farm to the shelf.
In addition to hosting two days of seminars, interpack has teamed up with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to conduct three studies on how much food is lost in developing countries as well as developed nations as it moves through the supply chain.
As Klefenz points out, in some countries only 10% of food harvested actually makes it to a point of sale. Clearly, improvements can be made to better transport and distribute food stuffs with improved packaging and logistics.
A third study will focus on the investments necessary to make such improvements.
Most of us don’t even consider the role packaging has in food preservation and safety. It’s refreshing and encouraging to see the organizers of the largest packaging and confectionery processing equipment show take a proactive stance. Too often we get caught up in slogans and movements without examining the real facts and opportunities involved.
I’m not saying that less packaging is bad. Rather, that good packaging does more than we give it credit for. About time more folks realized that. Look for addition details about the Save Food Congress as they can firmed up here.
Till then, it’s a wrap.
Mintel projects current trends continuing in 2011
According to Chicago-based Mintel, a global research firm specializing in market and consumer intelligence, consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers can expect more of the same in 2011.
"These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing," notes Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. "Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products."
Some of the core trends that Mintel predicts will impact product development revolve around health and wellness, the environment, convenience and indulgence, all familiar themes on today’s shelves.
Some of the trends manufacturers are already working on include:
Quiet Reduction: Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of "quiet reduction," sugar and HFCS are also being downsized on ingredient statements. The media attack on HFCS is prompting covert reduction of sugar. This, however, could become a key labeling issue, in the same way transfat-free has become the norm in some parts of the world. The European region still awaits approval of stevia, but Mintel expects to see sugar and stevia used in conjunction to achieve an overall lower sugar content in new products. However, stevia will not always be part of the overt communication. Instead, messaging like "naturally sweetened" or "reduced sugar" will be the norm.
Redefining Natural: While all types of natural claims have grown in importance in all regions, and across all product categories, the term "natural" is still ill-defined. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and observers sense that regulatory bodies will intervene at some point. Moreover, today’s focus revolves around accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it.
Sustainability stays focused on the basics: Sustainability is not slipping down the priority list, rather embracing new developments. One can expect to see a continuation of green programs, but with a few twists. There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, such as boxless cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Also, water usage will become a hot, consumer button for consumers in 2011. Companies will be looking for ways to conserve water and change their consumption habits so that there is enough world supply.
Blurring Categories: How much more innovation can manufacturers come up with to invigorate a category? Hybrids containing benefits from another category provide one answer. Consumers don’t necessarily view products as being in one category or another, rather they look for solutions that meet their needs, and that may be something that straddles multiple categories.
New Retro: Over the last year, we have seen more big brands revitalize old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. Brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel are on the rise.
For more information on Mintel, visit www.mintel.com.
Darrell Lea Poised for Continued Growth in 2011
Darrell Lea of Sydney, Australia, looks to kick off 2011 with several major programs, including the introduction of new packaging, launch of a Facebook fan page, increased distribution and retail channels, and on-pack promotional activity with prizes. The company will also introduce a new variety to its existing line of four flavors: Traditional (black), Strawberry, Mango and Green Apple.
Introduced into the U.S. market quietly in 2000, Darrell Lea has quickly grown its sales then and, according to IRI data from April, has the brand leader in the natural soft eating licorice category.
"It’s been phenomenal seeing this brand arrive here in America and become so popular so quickly," David Wilson, director of Green Seed, the marketing company behind Darrell Lea in the United States. "In Australia the brand’s been known for over 80 years - over here it has no heritage and little brand awareness - yet the brand’s success is immediate.
"Most of our activity so far has been product led, but the product stands up very well against all competition," he adds. "So until now, we’ve let the licorice do its own talking."
Following consumer research conducted this year, the company decided it will introduce a new packaging look early next year addressing key consumer insights such as "escape" and a "licorice break from the action of the day."
"Our packaging was working, but with copycats out there, we decided to refresh it," Wilson says. "The Australian imagery and sense of escape is exactly what consumers were asking for and already associated with the brand." A new refreshed pack and retail displays will emerge in early 2011.
For more information, visit www.greenseedgroup.com.
ZDS Chocolate Technology Program Set for Dec. 7-9
In just under two months, Chocolate Technology 2010, the largest chocolate- themed European industry convention, will open its doors to those looking to better understand the science of chocolate .
Organized by The Central College of the German Confectionery Industry (ZDS), the school expects more than 400 attendees on Dec. 7-9 in Cologne’s Koelnmesse. Early registration already suggests this conference will top the previous record attendance set in 2008 by 15%.
For the first time ever, the event will have an extensive chocolate exhibition, featuring nearly 50 exhibitors as part of the convention program in the Koelnmesse’s Congress-Centrum North.
Chaired by Dr. Stephen Beckett (formerly Nestlé Product Technology, York, UK), the organizing Committee has put together a program covering a broad range of topics, including presentations on processing high viscosity chocolate, sustainability" and carbon foot prints.
All lectures will be simultaneously translated into German, English and French. Speakers from Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the United States reaffirm the global nature of the event.
The expert lectures will be supplemented by overviews about the latest developments in chocolate technology from machinery manufacturers, raw material suppliers and other industry participants. An evening buffet at "Henkelmännchen" in the Lanexx arena, will afford additional opportunities for informal talks and networking with industry colleagues .
In the "Poster Show," final study results touching on such topics as fat bloom in chocolates and the calculation of vegetable fat contents and cocoa contents in milk chocolate will also be presented.
For additional information, visit www.zds-solingen.de.com.
Cretors Recreates Antique Popper
C. Cretors and Co., the Chicago-based designer and manufacturer of food processing and concession equipment, has introduced the Cretors Anniversary Machine, a limited edition re-creation of an antique popcorn popper that celebrates the company’s recent 125th anniversary.
Only 125 of the units will be produced, each one signed and numbered. The machines are handcrafted in the United States at the Cretors facility in Chicago. Number 9 was sent to the White House for the First Family’s White House Theater.
With a single push of a button, the unit heating the kettle, thus initiating the popping of a batch of corn. The unit shuts off after one popping cycle. The eye-catching glossily-painted red and black machine stands atop elegant legs. Steam flows out of the vintage scrolled top to emit the ever attractive smell of freshly popped corn, bringing the movie theater experience home.
"This special memento honors the past with traditional design features found only on a Cretors machine, while incorporating modern design technology," says Andrew Cretors, president of Cretors. "We are proud to offer it as part of our 125th Anniversary celebration."
Adding to the charm of the unit, the retro design features Cretors’ own Tosty Rosty Clown, making his first appearance in more than 75 years. Originally designed to attract customers at the turn of the 20th century, this little clown continually bows as he diligently cranks the stirrer blade of the kettle.
Tosty Rosty is attired in his red costume, handmade by Linda Cretors, wife of CEO Charles Cretors, and Laura Cretors, wife of president Andrew Cretors. The women are continuing a tradition begun in the late 1890s when Andrew Cretors’ great-great grandmother made the diminutive clown’s first costume.
For more information, visit www.cretors.com.
sweet of the week: ZonePerfect Cookie Dough Nutrition Bars
ZonePerfect Cookie Dough Bars from Abbott Nutrition based in Abbott Park, Ill., are the first-ever soft, chewy cookie dough nutrition bars offering antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that provide an excellent source of protein. A creative blend of taste, texture and nutrition, ZonePerfect Cookie Dough bars contain 17 vitamins and minerals and are rich in antioxidants (vitamins C & E, and selenium). The bars have 170-190 calories per serving and deliver a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat to help satisfy snackers on the go. They are available in three flavors: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Raisin.
For more information, visit www.ZonePerfect.com.