Packaging World September 2020

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Flexible. Scalable. Adaptable. automation



Numi’s Compostable Overwrap–10 Years of Effort 30

Schnucks’ Total Own-Brand Package Reinvention 40

Multipacker Primes Brewer for Fast Format Expansion 64

Scale System Slashes Labor, Doubles Throughput




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FEATURES 30 Schnucks Reboots Own-Brand Portfolio In ‘the case study of all case studies,’ Schnucks begins the redesign of its entire portfolio of own-brand products, with a unique approach for each category that results in an increase in sales from 12% to 18% in just three years.

Numi’s Compostable Overwrap— 10 Years of Concerted Effort 30

40 Multipacker Helps Historic Shiner Bock Brewery Juggle Multiplying SKUs There’s a lot more than bock beer in Shiner, Texas. A new automated secondary packaging system allowed Shiner Bock producer Spoetzl Brewery to expand its range of formats, automate variety packs, and ultimately, reach all new cohorts of beer drinkers.

50 COVER STORY Compostable Overwrap for Tea Bags Listening to the stakeholders behind this determined effort is a vivid reminder of how many factors must be weighed before a compostable film can be commercialized.


64 Combination Scale System Slashes Labor, Doubles Throughput Beyond the expected speed boost and labor reduction caused by a new combination scale and depositor system, benefits that came along for the ride included accuracy that significantly reduced giveaway.

70 End-of-line Automation for Aussie Winery Facing new competition in a fast-growing wine category, Domaine Chandon Australia upped its game with a wraparound case packer that is unusual in this beverage segment.

74 Vertical Integration Rules at Incobrasa From blow molding PET bottles to welding 4-L steel cans to injection molding of plugs that seal those cans, this edible oil producer is a big believer in self-manufacture.

56 Multipacking Optimized Top quality natural mineral water and an exclusive bottle design are the trademarks of Danone’s Badoit brand, and now their multipacks are also consistently first class.

60 AUTOMATION Conducting a Virtual FAT With COVID-19 making it difficult to schedule in-person business meetings of any kind, this Italian packaging machinery OEM is leaning on remote work solutions.

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Packaging Fast and Slow at Spoetzl Brewery

7 Lead Off 26 The Legal Side 28 Sustainable Packaging 80 Shelf Impact! 88 Professional Perspective


8 News 20 Quotables/By the Numbers 82 Industry Watch



Bottling and Canning Operations at Incobrasa

22 First Person PRODUCTS

62 Automation Technology 84 Technology Mason Arnold, Cece’s Veggies Co.


Packaging Robotics Playbook


87 Advertiser Index

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Aladin Alkhawam Director, Packaging Operations, Par Pharmaceutical Jan Brücklmeier Technical Application Group Packaging Technology Expert, Nestlé David France Packaging Research Fellow, Conagra Foods Patrick Keenan R&D Packaging Engineer, General Mills/Annie’s Organic Snacks Mike Marcinkowski Global R&D Officer, GPA Global & Hub Folding Box Co. Paul Schaum Chief Operations Officer, Pretzels Inc. David Smith, PhD Principal, David S. Smith & Associates Brian Stepowany Packaging R&D, Senior Manager, B&G Foods, Inc. Jasmine Sutherland President, Texas Food Solutions; Vice President, Perfect Fit Meals Robert Weick President, Packaging Business Solutions, LLC

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Packaging World® (ISSN # 1073-7367) is a registered trademark of PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Packaging World® is published monthly by PMMI with its publishing office, PMMI Media Group, located at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60611; 312.222.1010; Fax: 312.222.1310. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. Copyright 2020 by PMMI. All rights reserved. Materials in this publication must not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher. Applications for a free subscription may be made online at Paid subscription rates per year are $200 in the U.S., $285 Canada and Mexico by surface mail; $475 Europe, $715 Far East and Australia by air mail. Single copy price in U.S. is $20. To subscribe or manage your subscription to Packaging World, visit Free digital edition available to qualified individuals outside the United States. POSTMASTER; Send address changes to Packaging World®, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60611. PRINTED IN USA by Quad. The opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of PMMI. Comments, questions and letters to the editor are welcome and can be sent to: Mailing List: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we don’t include your name, please write us at the Chicago, IL address.

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EDITORIAL Matt Reynolds Editor Patrick Reynolds Vice President, Editor Emeritus @Packcentric Iris Zavala Managing Editor Anne Marie Mohan Senior Editor @PackagingTrends Aaron Hand Editor-at-Large Jim Chrzan Vice President, Content and Brand Strategy Kim Overstreet Content Strategist, Alignment Eric F. Greenberg, Ben Miyares, Sterling Anthony Contributing Editors

ART David Bacho Creative Director

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Intimations of Sustainability I’ve always told anyone who would listen that the main reason I’ve so enjoyed being a packaging journalist for 37 years is because my job consists of talking with some of the smartest problem solvers on the planet. And my, what a clever bunch of problem solvers I got to talk with in researching the page 50 story about Numi Organic Tea’s compostable tea bag wrapper. What may be most amazing about the development behind this packaging innovation— which could prove to be a real game changer—is the persistence and determination that drove it. I mean think of spending 10 years nursing an idea to fruition, which is pretty much what the Numi folk did. I’m also impressed, from a supply chain perspective, by how many pieces to the puzzle there were, especially where the wrapper’s three-layer lamination is concerned. Cellophane was a crucial component because it brings gas-barrier properties without impeding compostability. But the cellophane needed a coating of metallized aluminum to bring moisture barrier, and that coating had to be so light that it wouldn’t hinder the degradation process in the commercial composting facility. Then for heat-seal properties, PLA was an obvious choice because it’s compostable. But it couldn’t be just any PLA, it had to be sourced from GMO-free corn to be acceptable to a tea company that prides itself on being organic only. So the blown film supplier sources its PLA from what might be the only maker of PLA resin that is Bonsucro-certified to be GMO-free. Even the paper used in the lamination is anything but a garden-variety component. It’s FSC-certified and is given a proprietary coating to protect the surface printing and to provide a coefficient of friction that will keep the high-speed roll-fed wrapping machine humming. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about working on this story is that it introduced me to a number of organizations I’d never heard of before that all seem laser focused on building a circular economy in one way or another. One mentioned above is Bonsucro, a global multistakeholder non-profit organization that exists to promote sustainable sugarcane production, processing, and trade. In looking up Bonsucro, I learned they are a member of ISEAL, a global membership organization for credible sustainability standards. In talking with the supplier of the cellophane component in the Numi wrapper, I learned of the existence of the US Composting Council, the only national organization in the U.S. dedicated to the development, expansion, and promotion of the composting industry. The same material supplier also introduced me to the Biodegradable Products Institute, a science-driven organization that supports a shift to the circular economy by promoting the production, use, and appropriate end of life for materials and products that are designed to fully biodegrade in specific biologically active environments. Finally, Numi’s Jane Franch introduced me to OSC2, which might be the most intriguing of all the new organizations I learned about in developing this story. A community of missiondriven sustainability leaders representing a variety of mostly food and beverage companies, OSC2 was co-founded by Ahmed Rahim, Founder and CEO of Numi. How did they come up with their name? I like to think of it as an acronym squared: One Step Closer to an Organic and Sustainable Community. Franch says this coalition of nearly 40 brands is essential in moving the needle on the development of sustainable flexible packaging materials because they are in the best position to persuade the supplier community that brands actually want such materials and are willing to invest in and trial them. One last observation before we end this discussion on compostable packaging. Be sure to go to to see what the Sustainable Packaging Coalition has to say on the subject in a highly informative article that was posted May 19. PW



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Wild Bamboo-Based Deodorant Refill Pack Reusable/refillable packaging is now all the rage, especially with the costs associated with more products being shipped via e-commerce. The format also help brands with environmentally friendly-focused products extend that philosophy through to their packaging. Wild, a U.K.-based company offering natural and organic deodorant on a one-off or subscription basis, has hit the sustainability trifecta with its new reusable deodorant pack: less cost and weight during shipping, fewer packaging materials, and, as an added bonus, a refill pack made from recyclable bamboo pulp. Says Wild, “Our mission is to shake up the throwaway culture of everyday bathroom products. Through our wildly sustainable products, we hope to redefine the future of personal care.” Upon launch in mid-2019 of its vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, dermatologically tested deodorant, which is also free from artificial fragrance, parabens, aluminum, and sulfates, Wild used standard, off-the-shelf plastic deodorant packaging with custom adhesive labels. Its goal from the start, though, was to develop a plastic-free, refillable alternative. Calling on the expertise of industrial design and innovation studio Morrama, Wild turned over a design brief that Morrama’s Creative Director, Jo Barnard, says “was primarily focused on the refills: plastic-free and small enough to ship in a large, letterbox-sized package.” She shares that the initial intention was to work with wrapped paperboard tubes—“similar to how a toilet roll tube is made.” To this end, Morrama was in discussions with a U.S. company that could make oval and rectangular shapes, but early trials showed that the required tolerances weren’t achievable with the material. Instead, bamboo pulp was chosen. Says Barnard, “Working with the tolerances of the bamboo molding process has also been a challenge— force the draft too small, and the surface will get damaged.” A challenge perhaps, but one that Morrama’s supplier—a proprietary company in the East—was able to overcome. Introduced in March 2020, the 43-g refill pack is made from two layers of bamboo pulp, with a “waxy inner layer,” explains Barnard, who adds that “experiments with single layer are looking hopeful, which will reduce material and cost.” The squat refill pack has the same flat profile as a traditional deodorant pack with rounded edges. The lid for the refill pack

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is also made from bamboo pulp. In the FAQ section of its website, Wild notes that the refill pack may sometimes be stained with oil from the deodorant that has soaked through. “This is hard to avoid and is a challenge of working with biodegradable and natural materials,” it says, adding that the staining does not affect the product’s performance. The deodorant’s outer, reusable case—also flat with rounded edges— measures 62 x 32 x 112 mm and is made from anodized aluminum. It sports a stylish, minimalist design and is available in four unisex colors: aqua, coral, silver, and purple. Says Barnard, aluminum was chosen for its aesthetics. “We know people will more likely keep and reuse a product that feels premium,” she explains. The case is fitted with internal plastic components, including recycled polypropylene for aesthetic details, as well as a more durable plastic for the twist mechanism that pushes up the deodorant as it’s used. The case comes apart for insertion of the refill pack, which is 100% recyclable after use. Consumers can choose from among five deodorant scents, with three refill packs delivered every two, three, or four months, depending on consumer preference. The refills are shipped in a slim, corrugated ear-lock mailer that fits handily through a U.K. letterbox. “We designed the Wild deodorant [pack] with every minor detail taken into consideration, from the size, shape, color, and ease of user experience through to its recyclability and sustainability credentials,” says Barnard. “It has been designed as a truly premium product experience, but at an affordable price.” Freddy Ward, co-founder of Wild, adds, “Morrama’s team is very dynamic and really helped us push the boundaries of what we thought was possible on this project, with very tight deadlines and limited budgets. To create the first refill solution globally without plastic is an achievement we are incredibly proud of, and working with Morrama was the key to our success.” Wild is currently the number one-rated natural deodorant in the U.K., with 4.8 stars on consumer review site Trustpilot. While the product is currently only available online, Wild is in discussions to enter retail by year-end 2020. —Anne Marie Mohan

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PACK EXPO Connects emerges as 2020’s newest Event packaging and processing industry wants out of a web-based event. Now more than ever, packaging and processing professionals need soluOverwhelmingly, the number one request across the board was a detions for a rapidly changing world. To ensure the industry remains consire not only to see live technology but also to have the ability to interact nected during a time when the socially distanced world has leaned heavwith exhibitors during the video demos of actual machines. ily on the items it packages, PMMI Media Group brought together all of its PACK EXPO Connects delivers the technology for exhibitors to conduct digital marketing expertise, and decades of extensive industry knowledge, these interactive connections, complete with to launch a new live, web-based event, PACK live chat features, resembling virtual Factory AcEXPO Connects 2020, Nov. 9-13. ceptance Tests (FATs). These live video demos, PMMI Media Group began researching the coupled with the ability to interact with technical best technologies and platforms in May, to ensure personnel and product experts, best mimic and a one-of-a-kind virtual packaging event. PACK fulfill the expectations and experience of what EXPO Connects combines the power of PMMI attendees expect from an in-person event. This Media Group and the PACK EXPO brand to drive also reinforced the need for a collective group of participation by the entire industry and bring exhibitors demonstrating technology in action, together decision-makers from both sides of the with PACK EXPO Connects offering a one-stop table—suppliers and end-users from 40-plus shop for CPGs. vertical industries. PACK EXPO Connects provides Beyond experiencing technology in action, attendees an event full of virtual showrooms for attendees want to spend their valuable time exlive demos, live chats with product experts, an ploring new products, rather than existing prodeasily searchable product database conveniently ucts presented as new. PMMI Media Group solicorganized by 12 major categories, and more. ited its in-house team of editors to vet what is • Live Product Demonstrations will connect isn’t new, serving as neutral industry experts. attendees with exhibitors. These and Together, they will help make sure that attendees cient, 15-minute, live demonstrations will are able to track down the latest and greatest ofallow attendees to check out what’s new, ferings and the exhibitor virtual showrooms that are presenting them. ask questions and engage with exhibitors in real-time. Finally, attendees wanted robust, engaging virtual exhibits. The re• Live 1-on-1 Chat will allow attendees to chat directly with exhibitors search revealed that attendees are not impressed with fancy 3D renderduring dedicated event hours. If an attendee can’t catch an exhibitor ings of booths on a computer screen. They want to quickly understand during the event hours, Virtual Business Cards will help foster those what products are available, see live demos and connect with experts in connections even after the event’s conclusion. real time. As a group, participants revealed that they would prefer fully • Comprehensive Educational Content will feature thought-provokfleshed-out web-based showrooms, complete with live feedback and ining sessions from leading suppliers and industry experts on today’s teractions vs. simple listings offering a static encounter. PACK EXPO Conpackaging trends. Attendees can take the information gleaned from nects has developed the package to ensure exhibitors can deliver the sothese sessions to enhance their knowledge before heading back into lutions to attendees current packaging and processing challenges. the virtual showrooms for specific solutions. All content noted will Attendee registration launches Sept. 15, giving CPGs plenty of time be available both as scheduled and on-demand after the event. and opportunity to prepare for preview week, Oct. 26. This soft opening In the months leading up to the announcement of PACK EXPO Conwill allow registered attendees to browse live demo descriptions, build nects, PMMI Media Group conducted hours, adding up to days, worth of their planner and save items to Outlook calendars. Organization and preend-user interviews with some of the leading consumer packaged goods planning are the keys to success as there will be so much to see and expecompanies (CPGs) in the world. These extensive in-depth interviews had rience at PACK EXPO Connects. —Sean Riley one goal: To ensure PACK EXPO Connects represents exactly what the


Education Abounds at PACK EXPO Connects • Innovation Stages: Tune in for these 30-minute sessions to hear from exhibitors and industry experts on the latest breakthroughs and trends in sustainability, food & beverage, and more. Presenters will be available during their scheduled session for a live chat Q&A. If attendees miss a live scheduled session, video links will be available for future viewing. • Jumpstart Sessions: Kick off each day with a variety of industry thought leaders. Speakers and topics are forthcoming. • Trend Chats: These forward-looking sessions will feature interactive discussions on buzzworthy industry topics.

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• Daily Download: Hear from PMMI Media Group editors as they discuss show highlights and new discoveries from each day they spend covering innovations at exhibitor demos. • The Solution Room: This will consist of 45-minute interactive sessions led by industry thought leaders and partner organizations, discussing packaging challenges today. • Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network: Featured in a morning Jumpstart session, PPWLN will feature a presentation from Jan Tharp, President and CEO at Bumble Bee Foods.

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PACK EXPO Connects – A First Look Information updated as of Aug. 21, 2020

Monday, November 9 *All sessions Monday-Thursday will be rebroadcasted Tuesday-Friday in Greenwich Mean Time and China Standard Time.

9:00am – 10:00am

Jumpstart - Sustainable Packaging and Processing Landscape

10:00am – 3:00pm

Exhibit Hours/Live Exhibitor Demonstrations

12:00pm – 2:30pm

Innovation Stage Sessions - Content supplied by exhibitors via abstract submission online and by association partners (i.e. RPA, ISBT, etc.) (A maximum of four sessions running concurrently, every hour on the hour)

2:30pm – 3:00pm

Trend Chats - Cannabis Packaging, a 15-minute conversation between a PMG editor and a featured speaker

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Daily Download - Hear the day’s event highlights from PMG editors

4:00pm – 5:00pm

Pub Trivia

Tuesday, November 10 9:00am – 10:00am

Jumpstart - Workforce Development

10:00am – 3:00pm

Exhibit Hours/Live Exhibitor Demonstrations

12:00pm – 2:30pm

Innovation Stage Sessions - Content supplied by exhibitors via abstract submission online and by association partners (i.e. RPA, ISBT, etc.) (A maximum of four sessions running concurrently, every hour on the hour)

2:30pm – 3:00pm

Trend Chats - Food Processing & Manufacturing Innovation, a 15-minute conversation between a PMG editor and a featured speaker

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Daily Download - Hear the day’s event highlights from PMG editors

Wednesday, November 11 9:00am – 10:00am

Jumpstart - The Robot Revolution

10:00am – 3:00pm

Exhibit Hours/Live Exhibitor Demonstrations

12:00pm – 2:30pm

Innovation Stage Sessions - Content supplied by exhibitors via abstract submission online and by association partners (i.e. RPA, ISBT, etc.) (A maximum of four sessions running concurrently, every hour on the hour)

2:30pm – 3:00pm

Trend Chats - Digital Printing, a 15-minute conversation between a PMG editor and a featured speaker

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Daily Download - Hear the day’s event highlights from PMG editors

Thursday, November 12 9:00am – 10:00am

Jumpstart - All Things Remote

10:00am – 3:00pm

Exhibit Hours/Live Exhibitor Demonstrations

12:00pm – 2:30pm

Innovation Stage Sessions - Content supplied by exhibitors via abstract submission online and by association partners (i.e. RPA, ISBT, etc.) (A maximum of 4 sessions running concurrently, every hour on the hour)

2:30pm – 3:00pm

Trend Chats - Track and Trace for Pharma and Food, a 15-minute conversation between a PMG editor and a featured speaker

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Daily Download - Hear the day’s event highlights from PMG editors

Friday, November 13 *All Friday sessions will be available on-demand beginning Saturday for those outside of the Western Hemisphere.

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9:00am – 10:00am

Jumpstart - E-commerce, Emerging Brands, Pharma/Medical Device Packaging Updates, and Contract Packaging

10:00am – 1:00pm

Exhibit Hours/Live Exhibitor Demonstrations

10:00am – 3:00pm

The Solution Room - presentations by IoPP, OPX, CPA, and OMAC

2:00pm – 2:45pm

Daily Download - Hear the day’s event highlights from PMG editors

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Packaging Will Help Drive Men’s Skincare Market The global men’s skincare products market is anticipated to reach $18.92 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2020 to 2027. That’s according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., which notes that rising awareness among males regarding personal grooming is driving the demand for these

products globally. At a macro level, it adds, increasing disposable income has been favoring market growth over the years. According to the report, premiumization has recently emerged as the latest trend within the market, leading manufacturers in this space to increasingly focus on green formulations under the premium category. Demand for men’s skincare solutions is likely to be principally driven by the growing popularity of organic and natural products with natural extracts. Furthermore, packaging is expected to play a key role in creating their demand. In this respect, the report notes, men’s skincare products packaged using sustainably sourced materials are more likely to gain popularity in the foreseeable future.

Among other key takeaways from the report: • The shave care segment grabbed 32.7% share of the overall revenue in 2019. • In terms of distribution, offline channels such as supermarkets, hypermarkets, and c-stores held the largest share in 2019 and are expected to maintain their lead throughout the forecast period (2020-2027). • Product innovation is a key strategy deployed by the majority of market players to stay abreast of the competition. • Baby Boomers are increasingly venturing into the luxury space, making them prime targets for premium brands. This demographic is also looking for healthoriented solutions, such as anti-residue rinse and cleansing conditioners. • The demand for cleanser, face wash, and sunscreen products is outpacing that of shave care essentials. This suggests the trend of male grooming is moving beyond the basics of fragrance and shaving, thereby encouraging manufacturers of men’s skincare essentials to venture into relatively novel categories, such as facial masks and serums. —Anne Marie Mohan

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8/24/20 4:22 PM

Visit our virtual showroom at PACK EXPO Connects November 9-13, 2020

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BoxSizer® Right-Sizing Technology

Package variability. Solved. ©2020 WestRock Company. All rights reserved.

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Coca-Cola Delivers European First with Recycled Paperboard Can Handle Coca-Cola European Partners introduced CanCollar®, an innovative paperboard packaging solution, for multipack cans in Spain. The move supports its work, in partnership with Coca-Cola, to remove all unnecessary

or hard-to-recycle plastic from its portfolio, avoiding the use of more than 11,000 metric tonnes (12,125 U.S. tons) of virgin plastic a year across Western Europe.

Initially, Coca-Cola European Partners will launch the new, PEFC-certified [PEFC is the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, a sustainable forest certification] recyclable and sustainably sourced paperboard CanCollar in the Balearic Islands in November 2020, a first in Europe. Innovative packaging design is a core principle of Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste strategy. Through collaboration with WestRock, Coca-Cola European Partners will replace the existing can handle solution to save more than 18 tonnes (20 tons) of plastic annually. Coca-Cola European Partners has invested 2.6 million euros in its Barcelona plant to support this initiative. The installation of WestRock’s CanCollar Fortuna™ manufacturing equipment will enable multipack cans to be grouped in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, with a process that does not require the use of glue or adhesives. “The agreement with WestRock exemplifies our clear commitment to reduce plastic in our secondary packaging,” says Joe Franses, Vice President of Sustainability, Coca-Cola European Partners. “By the end of 2020, we will have removed more than 4,000 tonnes of hard-torecycle plastic from our secondary packaging in Western Europe. It’s through collaborating on innovative packaging solutions like CanCollar® that we are able to do this.” “We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Coca-Cola. For 70 years we have supported Coca-Cola in bringing innovation to global beverage markets. CanCollar is the latest initiative supporting Coca-Cola’s vision to create a World Without Waste,” adds Dwayne Irvin, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at WestRock. —Matt Reynolds

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Visit our virtual showroom at PACK EXPO Connects November 9-13, 2020

REDUCE LABOR WITH RIGHT-SIZED AUTOMATION. WestRock’s Pak On Demand™ Pouch System 3D scans products on a conveyor, creates a custom, right-sized, curbside recyclable pouch on demand and seals the package for shipment—all with a single operator. The streamlined process not only reduces labor costs, it also eliminates unnecessary void fill and shipping charges and increases packing rates up to five times over manual operations.

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Pak On Demand™ Pouch System ©2020 WestRock Company. All rights reserved.

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Near-Term Technology Expansion, Contraction, in the Food and Beverage Industries According to the May 2020 U.S. Packaging Machinery Purchasing Index report by PMMI Business Intelligence, CPGs in the Beverage (44.4 points) and Foods and Food Preparation (44.3 points) are estimated, by brand and CPG end users, to contract in terms of equipment CAPEX going in to 2021.

planned projects, nor are they optimistic about the impact of current business conditions on future investments going in to 2021. Although end users are reporting significant contraction in the beverage industry, they are also reporting some expansion in the use of certain technologies, such as cobots/ robots. Respondents in the beverage industry are also reporting plans for increased usage of remote access and remote monitoring as a result of the pandemic.

Brand and CPG Expectations for 2021 Equipment Investment

Foods and Food Preparation

Beverage End users in the beverage industry are reporting significant slowing, with all indexes falling short of the midpoint. Respondents in the beverage industry are not enthusiastic about

Although the foods and food preparation industry had a period of rapid growth, the current pandemic has resulted in some contraction in terms of equipment expenditure. Regardless of the slowdown, respondents in this industry report slightly more expansion versus the previous month. End users in the foods and food preparation industry are reporting expanded use of cobots/robots, at a slightly more rapid pace than the total market. The foods and food preparation industry’s plans for future-use technologies are generally keeping pace with the total market. Download your free copy of this report by typing into your browser. PW

PMMI Scholarships Help Pave the Way for Next Generation The PMMI Foundation has awarded three $5,000 scholarships to university students at four-year PMMI partner schools, studying for a career in the packaging and processing industry. PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, supports packaging and processing education at North American colleges, universities, and technical schools through the PMMI Foundation. The recipients of these scholarships are: • Electrical Engineering Scholarship— Jordan Wolf, Penn State-York, ElectroMechanical Engineering • Mechanical Engineering Scholarship— Eric Almberg, University of Iowa, Mechanical Engineering • Processing Scholarship—April Johnson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Food and Science Technology

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“Our goal is to recognize the leading students in our industry, providing them with necessary resources so they can transfer academic success into professional excellence,” says Kate Fiorianti, senior manager, workforce development, PMMI. “The motivation and achievements of these students represent a positive outlook for the next generation in transforming the packaging and processing industry.” With a commitment to developing future leaders in the industry, the PMMI Foundation has awarded academic scholarships each year to students enrolled in PMMI Education Partner programs since 1998. For more information about the PMMI Foundation, go to PW

8/24/20 4:26 PM

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8/24/20 4:27 PM

18 PW SEP2020


Hydrogen Water Potency Preserved with Aluminum Pouch Susosu Water of McLean, Va., is dedicated to inspiring individuals to live a healthier lifestyle through preventative care. For this purpose, it introduced an all-natural mineral water from the springs of South Korea infused with extra molecular hydrogen, which is said to offer a number of health benefits. But packaging considerations came first, in fact, two years before, the product was ready for launch. “Finding functional packaging was the most important step toward creating Susosu Water,” says company co-founder Jheen Oh. “It was important for us to use an aluminum container for our product. Hydrogen can only be contained in aluminum—if we were to use glass or plastic, hydrogen would escape.” While using an aluminum can would have been an easy selection, Susosu opted for a gusseted stand-up pouch with spout, a format it found its consumers preferred and that offered several functional and aesthetic advantages. Says Oh, the pouch is easy to take on-the-go for consumption and is also a more cost-efficient choice for consumers. From a sustainability standpoint, Oh shares that the pouches offer a low carbon footprint, taking up less truckload space than plastic and glass beverage bottle delivery systems and is recyclable. As for it on-shelf appearance, being new to the water category, the pouch is easy to spot, especially with its aqua blue-gradient background. “For aesthetic requirements, we wanted to make sure our packaging was vibrant enough to catch a consumer’s attention and have them remember us,” explains Oh. Copy throughout is presented in English and

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8/24/20 4:29 PM


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STICK HAPPENS Korean, with the main element, the Susosu logo, in Korean. While layer-by-layer specifics on the pouch material aren’t available, Oh shares that it’s made of “thick layers of aluminum that keep hydrogen sealed inside…and keep your water cold longer.” The pouch, from a South Korean supplier, is topped with a recyclable plastic closure. Copy on the pouch advises that “Heath Starts With Proper H2 Mineral Water.” As Oh explains, hydrogen water is a potent antioxidant, fights inflammation, and provides a natural energy boost. Susosu creates the water using patented equipment that pressurized and dissolves hydrogen into the natural mineral water. The pouch size of 300 mL was selected to carry the ideal amount of water for consumption at one time. “Once the consumer opens the pouch, it is recommended that they finish the product in under 30 minutes to reap the full benefits of hydrogen water,” Oh says. Susosu Water is available on the company’s website, as well as on Amazon,, and other online retailers, and can be found in brick-and-mortar retail stores in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The average cost per pouch is between $2.25 to $2.50. —Anne Marie Mohan

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The increase in canned meat sales during the 15-week period ending June 13, 2020. Says Spam, the last time the brand saw a similar pattern in interest was during the Great Depression.

$58.9 billion The expected value of mono-material flexible film packaging in 2020, with a CAGR of 3.8% propelling the market to $70.9 billion by 2025, according to analysis from Smithers


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“As COVID cases continue to rise, most shoppers believe we’re headed for another shutdown and plan to respond accordingly, so retailers should be prepared for a new surge in stocking up. The pandemic will also significantly impact back-to-school shopping this year, and retailers will need to adapt to parents’ new priorities and shopping preferences. Hand sanitizer, masks and gloves will be the most indemand items, in addition to basic school supplies, and many will opt for online shopping and delivery options.” –Darian Pickett, CEO of North American Sales, at sales and marketing agency Acosta, in an article from Progressive Grocer, “Get Ready for Retail Stockpiling, Round 2”

“Whoever wins in e-commerce now and is able to capture those families that are trying this e-grocery service for the first time, I think, is going to win those families in the future…e-commerce is a key area where we think we can gain market share.”​ –Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, in a conference call with investors, as reported in an article from, “PepsiCo seeks to exploit shift to home cooking and immunity focus among comfort-craving consumers”

“Businesses, consumers and supply chains will be forever changed by this global pandemic. The organizations that accelerate the implementation of digital, next generation technologies and solutions and take a hard look at material and product sourcing are the ones that will be best positioned for future success because they will be the ones that can quickly respond and adjust to supply chain disruptions.” –John Paxton, MHI COO/CEO Designate, in a press release from international material handling, logistics, and supply chain trade association MHI, “New Report Predicts Coming Transformation Age for Supply Chains as COVID-19 Accelerates Adoption of Digital and Automated Solutions”

“We see a world where plastics need no longer become waste, and we have three pillars that help us with that, including reduce, recycle and reinvent. By moving to this type of [paper] bottle, it allows us to meet multiple of these goals. It allows us to reinvent by choosing renewable materials. … It also helps us to recycle because by moving into a paper bottle it has got the highest recycling rate, and, finally, in terms of reduce, it helps us diversify our portfolio so that it fits very, very, well into that area.” –Ron Khan, VP of Beverage Packaging at PepsiCo, in an article, “PepsiCo pursues world ‘where plastics need no longer become waste’ with new paper-based bottle,” from FoodNavigator-USA

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8/24/20 10:24 AM

22 PW SEP2020


Cece’s Veggie Co-Founders Helps Roll Out Regional Brand Accelerators A very patient Mason Arnold, founder of the fast-growing Cece’s Veggie Co. lines of vegetable-based noodle replacements, braved his host Matt Reynolds’ ultra-slow internet speed to tell PW all about the growing Naturally umbrella of emerging brand incubators. Mason Arnold has been an organics pioneer and serial entrepreneur since graduating the University of Texas in 2001. He has founded several companies with sustainability at the core, most recently Cece’s Veggie Co., which a year ago was ranked as Inc. magazine’s 3rd Fastest growing private company in 2019.

Packaging World:

Tell us a little about your background, and how you ended up founding Cece’s Veggie Co.?

Mason Arnold: My prior start-up company was called Greenling, where we did grocery home delivery. We had created a value-added kitchen, so we were processing and selling value-added vegetables that we got from local farms. Often, this local produce isn’t as pretty as some in retail, and so processing them leveled the playing field, and we would sell them chopped or diced. Over that time, I saw a lot of brands come and go, and got pretty good at guessing which ones were going to do well, and which ones weren’t. And then—in what turned out to be a really influential event in leading me to found Cece’s—my family and I had to go gluten-free due to allergies. So, I was looking for the best gluten-free pasta out there, as well as trying to get more vegetables into my kids’ diets, and I felt like that vegetable noodles might be a plausible business model. I researched all the way down to the microbiology of what happens when slicers and blades cut vegetables. With that research, I actually invented the machine that we still use to this day to make pasta out of fresh vegetables. With that machine, I knew I could make a good noodle, and so then the very next question to me was, “what does the packaging need to look like?” I identified where in the store I wanted it to go, and then from there, I decided on what I felt like the best packaging would be. And got some help from a local agency, Shelf Studio, Austin, Texas, to design the perfect package and brand, in order to sell these vegetable noodles.

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Are there any specific packaging challenges with vegetable noodles? When you cut a vegetable into a very small cross section, there’s a whole lot of surface area for degradation of that product. And because we sell it fresh, and there’s no kill step [pasteurization or HPP, for example] involved, shelf-life and pathogens are the two biggest considerations. All of that did have to go into it our business model, and how we do that is kind of our black box, our trade secret. What was the genesis of Naturally Austin? I’ve been a mentor for SKU, a consumer products accelerator program in town, and seeing the community come together around that was inspiring. But even though there was this great accelerator program where entrepreneurs got to meet all of these mentors and suppliers, SKU is mostly focused on the companies who enter their program. I wanted to help create something that extended beyond that, to anyone who wants to be involved in the CPG community. I think it’s really important to have community within industry. Actually, I’m also a mentor at Capital Factory, which is a technology accelerator for all things tech. It’s kind of the central hub for technology start-ups and entrepreneurship in town. And I had watched that grow—the founder of that, Josh Baer was on the board of my last company—and I wanted to create something like that for the CPG community. Rather than the SKU accelerator, which is very focused on growing businesses—and most of them are already revenue and such—I felt like we should create a place where people can just get together, and talk about their ideas, and meet other people doing it. So, I combined the best parts I saw of the two. I saw how much more robust the Capital Factory community was around tech, because

8/20/20 5:46 AM

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8/20/20 5:48 AM

24 PW SEP2020

they had a lot more resources. In SKU, you kind of had to be in the program to get access to the resources. And as I started to talk to other people in the CPG community, there were multiple people that really wanted the same thing, so we all got together, and we started to ask, ‘how do we build community around CPGs in Austin?’ As we were evaluating the idea, one of the people that we were meeting with knew of Naturally Boulder and said that they were really interested in helping. So, we ended up partnering with them, because they already had resources like documents, structure, and all kinds of things that we could lean on. And so that’s when we decided to form Naturally Austin.

How does it operate, and what does the structure look like? There are multiple phases to it that we sought out from the outset. The first phase was just building community. So, there are membership options for it, and the least expensive one is $65 a year. But really, lots of events are open to the general community. We just wanted to be a resource, and for people to know that they could come to Naturally Austin to talk about ideas, and learn about the CPG industry, and do education. For instance, we get some of the really high-profile CPG brands and personalities in town to talk about different areas that new entrepreneurs will come across. We have educational sessions, networking, and community gatherings in general. And then, as the organization grows, we want to add services, and we want to find a location that we can call the Naturally Austin’s own location to host all these events and such, so we’ve got a lot of big plans. But the first step will be as a non-profit that just wants to help educate people and gather people around CPG entrepreneurship. Mature brands and brand owners know packaging matters from the beginning. But often, new business owners or entrepreneurs don’t recognize this off the bat. How does Naturally deal with that common dynamic? I personally view packaging as absolutely critical to a CPG brand, and I think it’s one of the things that needs to be focused on and worked out extremely early. From the Naturally Austin perspective, we communicate that same perspective—that packaging is something that needs to be well-thought-out from the very beginning, and Naturally Austin can provide resources to do that. Because there are

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a lot of resources out there these days for that kind of effort, and just helping people know that they need to think about it up front, and not wait until they’re at scale.

Do you partner with packaging machinery builders or other packaging suppliers to help members figure out where to start? Yes, we can. And we do have members who are packaging companies, and we have lot of sponsorship opportunities as well for packaging companies wanting to be able to get themselves in front of the Naturally Austin community. Some entrepreneurs invent a product and build a brand with the intent to sell it and move onto the next idea. Others are in for the long haul. We strive for our education sessions to provide information for both of those perspectives, and for Naturally Austin, we don’t necessarily want to lead anyone down either one of those in particular. Both are great paths, and we provide the resources for either path. Has growing Naturally Austin benefitted your business, Cece’s Veggies, as well? I would definitely say that we’ve benefited in just having the community aspect that I’ve run across, and resources that I may need at the moment—whether it’s additional packaging resources, or transportation resources, or technology and other resources of people that are in the Naturally Austin community. And then, as I need something, I know that I’ve got this community that I can pose a question to and get lots of responses back. No matter what I need in the business, having that community to lean on has been a really great aspect of it. What’s next for the Naturally network? Naturally started in Boulder, but it’s now joined by a network in San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, and Austin. Now, the Naturally network is coming together and creating a more national Naturally network. No matter where a brand is, there may be a Naturally member of the network nearby, so they should look and see that. —Matt Reynolds Visit to learn more about Naturally Austin and the Naturally network.

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By Eric F. Greenberg, Attorney-at-law

What Do PFAS Actions Tell Us About Food Contact Substances Industry? The PFAS story keeps developing, and isn’t over yet. It’s a mish-mash of science, regulatory action, public pressure, and industry responsiveness. As it has done occasionally in the past, FDA has announced, in essence, not its own decision to withdraw regulatory clearances of some food contact substances, but instead the decision of companies to abandon the use of the food contact substances, which in turn made their regulatory clearances irrelevant. For many years, FDA’s examination of this category of chemicals has been ongoing, or bumping along slowly, depending on your perspective. There are about 5,000 substances in the group of chemicals referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; lots of them are good at resisting grease and oil, and they have many industrial uses. A few of them have been FDA-cleared for use in food packaging and food processing equipment. There have been some concerns about some PFAS’ tendency to accumulate over time in humans, and with their environmental effects. FDA says “While the science surrounding potential health effects of this bioaccumulation of certain PFAS is developing, evidence suggests it may cause serious health conditions.” The PFAS used as paper food packaging coatings have the potential to migrate, says FDA (which is why their uses require proof of safety and FDA clearance before they can be lawfully used). By contrast, FDA noted that the PFAS used in “non-stick coatings on cookware and sealing gaskets for food processing equipment do not migrate to food.” In its most recent action, FDA has reviewed safety data about a the short-chain PFAS, 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH). There are four manufacturers who hold 15 effective Food Contact Notifications clearing 11 compounds that contain that substance for use in food contact. Three of the four manufacturers agreed to phase out their use of it over 3 years, starting next January. The fourth told FDA it had already stopped sales of food contact substances containing it. If this sounds familiar, it could be because FDA has in the past made similar announcements about PFAS. Back in 2016, FDA withdrew the regulations permitting the use in contact with food of some perfluoroalkyl ethyls, which also had been used to repel oil and water on paper and paperboard such as pizza boxes. I discussed this in my February 2016 column. ( In that prior situation, FDA was reacting to citizen petitions asking it to take that action based on safety information that did not exist when the substances were first cleared for use, and while there was some question about whether the safety concerns applied to the specific chemicals involved, it appears that industry had already

stopped using those specific substances, which no doubt made FDA’s decision to withdraw the clearances a lot easier. Even earlier, in 2011, FDA got makers of some long-chain PFAS to agree voluntarily to stop offering them for food contact applications, which had been authorized by several effective Food Contact Notifications. Then the 2016 revocation removed the remaining clearances for long-chain PFAS that were contained in regulations. Chemist (and my colleague) Dr. George D. Sadler is concerned that regulatory changes about some PFAS will paint the whole class of substances with too broad a brush. “My personal fear,” he warns, “is that through this announcement, the lay public will lump all fluorinated hydrocarbons into a common hate-group similar to past industry experience with phthalates.” What results when substances fall into public disfavor, even in the absence of scientific safety concerns, is that companies often avoid using them. With some PFAS, part of the motivation could have been that, as Dr. Sadler also noted, there were alternative substances available. When specific substances that are cleared for uses in contact with food become the subject of new safety concerns, you can either conclude that the whole food contact regulatory regime is inadequate, and that these are but a representative example of a widespread problem, or you can conclude the system is working, because there are regulatory provisions that provide for just this type of action by FDA when new and different information emerges. And you could grant extra points to industry for reacting voluntarily, which they frequently do even before safety information is conclusive, reacting as much to public distaste for a chemical rather than scientific proof. How much was really voluntary and how much like an offer they couldn’t refuse, communicated under duress? We might never know. But even under duress, some companies still might not go along with FDA’s urgings. So, clearly the companies here deserve some credit for working cooperatively with the regulators. Credit is due. The numerous members of the regulated food and food contact industries whom I know from personal experience take very seriously their responsibilities to assure regulatory compliance and safety, and they devote time and resources toward getting them right. This is guaranteed to not be the last chapter in the PFAS story, because a coalition of state governments (that previously acted against heavy metals in packaging), has said it wants limits on or prohibitions against about 130 PFAS, and has drafted a model law that would do so. I will visit that topic in greater detail soon. PW

Eric Greenberg can be reached at Or visit his firm’s Web site at INFORMATIONAL ONLY, NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

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28 PW SEP2020


By Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor

First Pet Food Brand Joins Loop Since it was introduced in early 2019, the amazingly ambitious and potentially game-changing Loop circular shopping platform (see has expanded rapidly. First launched online in mid-2019 in New York City and Paris, Loop was rolled out nationwide just one year later. Not only has its footprint grown, but so too has the number of brands offering their products through the platform—a pretty impressive accomplishment, given the total redesign that’s typically required for a CPG to make their packaging reusable. One recently added brand is Open Farm Pet Food, the first pet food company to partner with Loop. Evan Shuster, VP of Marketing for Open Farm, says Loop was a good fit for Open Farm, given the

two organization’s shared values around sustainability. Toronto-based Open Farm has built its business on delivering clean, nutritious pet food products made from ethically sourced and whole ingredients. “Joining the Loop platform presented an amazing opportunity to further our mission and continue leading the way in sustainable packaging,” Shuster says. Open Farm and Loop’s sister company, TerraCycle, already have a long and successful history in advancing sustainable packaging. In 2014, they established a recycling program for pet food bags, 95% of which are considered unrecyclable. To date, the program has recycled 275,000 of them. For the Loop program, Open Farm began work on the project in 2019, progressing through many iterations of packaging, logistics, and fulfillment testing in advance of the June 2020 launch of its products. Schuster shares Open Farm’s goals for its Loop packaging: “First

SustainablePkg_0920.indd 28

and foremost, it had to be durable and secure to deliver our food safely and securely throughout the entire supply chain. We also wanted to ensure that it delivered a great, premium experience in a consumer’s home and was something they could proudly display in order to serve their pets quickly and easily. Finally, we wanted to ensure that it represented a natural, premium evolution of our brand through this new package format and made it clear to consumers what the product was, knowing this was going to be a way for us to introduce Open Farm to new consumers.” The final package is a stainless-steel tin that holds 13.5 oz of either Freeze Dried Raw Harvest Chicken or Pasture-Raised Lamb product, with no inner bag needed. The stainless-steel lid is securely sealed with a tamper tab that runs down the side of the package, beginning at the lid. Says Shuster, the tin has been designed to last through multiple consumer uses, as are the labels that decorate the container body and lid. One unique feature of Open Farm’s traditional retail packaging is a lot code that consumers can enter on the company’s site to see a description of each ingredient in the bag, as well as the ingredient’s origins, for “full transparency from farm to bowl.” According to Shuster, this feature has been carried over to the Loop tin. “This was part of the fun, innovative process of working with Loop on the launch,” he says. “We wanted to ensure we were able to deliver the full Open Farm experience through Loop. We will be applying the lot code on every individual tin that we ship to Loop so consumers have the same full traceability on every tin of Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw.” Open Farm is working with its existing supply chain partners to help fill, pack, and ship its products. For the Loop e-commerce platform, brands supply their products to Loop, which fulfills consumer orders directly. Once Loop’s retail partners launch the platform in-store later this year, brands such as Open Farm will ship product directly to the retailer as well. Concludes Shuster, “We will continue to gather learnings from the pilot phase of the Loop launch and explore how we can deliver more Open Farm products in more sustainable ways that leave a positive impact on our environment. We are really excited to see where the Loop platform can grow from here and are excited to be part of the program.” PW

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8/24/20 12:02 PM

30 PW SEP2020

Schnucks Reboots Own-Brand Portfolio In ‘the case study of all case studies,’ Schnucks begins the redesign of its entire portfolio of own-brand products with a unique approach for each category that results in an increase in sales from 12% to 18% in just three years. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

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By Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor When Jason Ulichnie joined St Louis-based grocery retailer Schnucks in July 2017 as Vice President, Own Brand, he and his team were tasked with lifting the sales of the company’s own-brand products. Schnucks knew that increasing their own-brand offerings was a smart approach, but the biggest opportunity for improvement was ensuring the packaging strategy could communicate Schnucks’ values around quality, local produce, and heritage “We had a very simple business challenge from our executive leader-

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ship of getting to 30% penetration in five years, and we were sitting just under 12%,” Ulichnie shares. “So how do you get there? Well, number one, we didn’t have enough own-brand products, so we realized that was an area where we could quickly impact change. Next, we knew we could look at ways to modernize our packaging design. And so the only way for us to get to 30% was to get customers to buy more of our own brands, and the only way to do that is to be much more competitive with the national brands, and design was one of the first things our team had to address.”

8/25/20 2:35 PM


Schnucks’ Culinaria ‘affordable indulgence’ line of 145 items (shown opposite) uses a consistent, cross-category design strategy to create an identity and build the brand throughout the store.

A bounty of brands, but not all successful Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. is a third-generation, family-owned grocery retailer led by Chairman & CEO Todd Schnuck. The company operates 113 stores throughout the Midwest—dominating the St. Louis market—and employs more than 14,000 workers. Schnucks offers an extensive portfolio of own-brand products that can be found in every department in the store. In categories where it can’t compete with national brands given the minimum volumes required—particularly baby and pet care, OTC, and health and beauty— it offers private-brand product lines from group purchasing operation Topco. These include Simply Done household products, TopCare for OTC and beauty care, Paws Happy Life products for pets, and Tippy Toes baby care and nutrition products, in addition to 10 other brands. But the linchpin of its own-brand portfolio is its namesake brand, Schnucks, which consists largely of food and beverage products and which “promises to deliver quality and taste that rivals (or beats) the leading national brand for a cost that is 20% to 30% cheaper,” says the company. It was for this brand, which makes up the bulk of Schnucks’ offerings, as well as its Culinaria brand of ultra-premium food products, that Ulichnie was tasked with bringing in a fresh, new strategy. When starting the project, Ulichnie was met with a variety of package designs, the newest effort being a very minimalistic, cross-category line look with a white package, for the Schnucks brand. “It was a mix of outdated designs with the new white design, and then a mix of old designs from the past 15 years that had been a little neglected,” he says. “While the white package had good breakthrough, it was kind of past its time. It didn’t have the design horsepower of many of the national brands. And, as you know, for an own brand to be truly successful, you’ve got to rival the national brands.”

A custom packaging strategy befitting Schnucks The concept of private-label products has come a long way in the last decade, evolving from a generic approach to an “own-brand” strategy, with those retailers adopting the latter having the most success. That’s according to Michael Duffy, Global Creative Director for Equator Design, the creative consultancy responsible for designing the new packaging for Schnucks and Culinaria. “Private [and] label to me are two dirty words, or at least label is,” says Duffy. “It’s what a lot retailers have. Then you have private brands, and then it goes even further to own brand, which has even more equity. The private brand is obviously behaving like a brand, not like a label. And own brand is when a retailer wants to take that private-brand mentality further and make it more ownable to them, more custom to them.” Duffy shares that when he came to the U.S. from his home country of the U.K. 11 years ago, “looking at what was on-shelf at supermarkets, you could throw a stone in any direction, and you would hit a pack that needed a good design.” He adds, “What was difficult was convincing retailers of the value of good design and the fact that they needed it. “When you see it now, the opposite has happened, where the bar has definitely been raised, and there are a lot more private brands onshelf than private labels, especially in the big retailers. Now, because

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32 PW SEP2020

that bar is raised, supermarkets need to concentrate on their ownbrand approach to make it something more custom, something that feels more personal to them and their shoppers.” And that’s exactly what Ulichnie aspired to in restaging the Schnucks brand. “He wanted his team to create a brand that connected emotionally with the customer, not just functionally,” explains Duffy. “Building brand equity was the key opportunity for growth.


“He wanted his team to create designs that didn’t just compare with national brands, but that were more attractive than them. He wanted to build an allegiance and a loyalty, ramp up that equity. And really, like any good private brand, you want your customer to buy it because they want to, not because they have to because it’s cheaper. You want them to buy it because the quality is either better than or equal to the national brand. “That’s what Schnucks really wanted. The company wanted a strategy born out of appropriateness to the heritage of the customer and the values of the retailer. But then also they wanted something that had a real wow factor and would stop you in the aisles and make you choose Schnucks first.” But as Duffy warns, design can only work for you once. “Because if the product isn’t good enough, you’re not going to buy it again, even if the design is great,” he says. With this in mind, Ulichnie and his team began evaluating each category by pulling product off the shelf and reformulating where needed. After reformulation came redesign, with separate strategies for Schnucks and for Culinaria, and within the Schnucks brand, a unique approach for every category.

Category-dependent designs Culinaria is Schnucks’ “affordable indulgence” line. It includes roughly 145 items throughout the store that are made from “the highest-quality ingredients” and contain no artificial flavors or colors. A legacy brand, Culinaria had been around for 10 years or so when Schnucks’ own-brand team got their hands on it. Says Ulichnie, “We had some work to do to determine our identity in this space.” For Culinaria, Ulichnie’s team employed a consistent, cross-category design strategy. “We used a line look there because it’s a premium brand, and we need to use that premium look across categories to create an identity and build the brand,” Ulichnie explains. Packaging graphics are designed to be approachable for the everyday consumer and highlight the foods’ authentic taste and provenance, and their innovative flavors, with seductive, artistic photography of premium ingredients. In contrast, every category in the Schnucks brand portfolio gets its own exclusive look. “That has been a

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design strategy that was new to Schnucks,” Ulichnie relates. “It was not something I had used before at any of the other retailers I’ve been at. Thank goodness for Equator, because they’re good. They can’t fall back on a line look and design standards, they’re essentially redesigning every category, one category at a time.” Says Duffy, “He told me he didn’t want a line look, and he didn’t want something where everything looked the same—that’s not the way the own-brand team created designs anyway. The team didn’t want pizza to look like snacks, or cookies, or ice cream. It had to look amazing.” One design element both Ulichnie and Equator agreed should be consistent across all categories though was the Schnucks’ logo, a bright red dot with the Schnucks’ logotype and the copy, “Since 1939,” inside. Says Ulichnie, “The previous design team had done some research that showed that our little red stop sign was a very good signal to the customer. No matter what product it’s on, that stop sign jumps out on the shelf. And so, we knew we had equity in the brand name, and we knew we had a vehicle that we could depend on with that stop sign, so it allowed us to have flexible design across all categories, regardless.” When it comes to the design strategy for each category, the direction taken depends on the products’ positioning in relation to the national brand equivalent (NBE). Where a Schnucks category is strong, it doesn’t need to take design cues from the NBE. Where it’s weak and growing, or where it will never be able to compete—for example, a Schnucks cola product competing with Coca-Cola—the design needs to align more closely with the NBE. “And then there’s everything in-between,” says Ulichnie.

The ‘green wall’ The best example of a category where the packaging design diverges from that of the national brand because the product is so strong is Schnucks’ cheese. This was also the first category to be redesigned because it was among those Ulichnie calls “needle movers”—big categories that sway consumers to start to trust the brand more and that drive more sales and profits for the company. Because of its high quality, Schnucks’ cheese didn’t have to be reformulated, but was expanded from 70 to 130 SKUs, resulting in a “selection that rivals any cheese shop,” says Schnucks. The redesign was one Equator had presented to Schnucks’ during their creative pitch, and it was so on point, it was rolled right out on shelves without any changes. Explains Duffy, the existing packaging was very “private label-esque” in white. “When red and white are done in the wrong way, it just looks like extreme value,” he says. So, color was the first consideration. Given that cheese takes up such a large amount of real estate in the refrigerated section, it results in a massive block, so “own brand goes up pretty hard against the national brand,” Duffy explains. Equator advised Ulichnie not to match the color of the national brands—e.g., Kraft blue or Sargento red. “If you were to go after blue, you’re basically just increasing the brand block of the national brand. You’re going to get lost in a sea of Kraft,” Duffy explains. Instead, Schnucks chose green. “Not because I had any research that said green sells cheese,” says Ulichnie. “It was just because it was not



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For its best-selling cheese products, Schnucks chose a unique green color to differentiate the line from the competition, while a cheese-board concept provides appetite appeal and ‘brings a smile in the mind.’

blue like Kraft or red like Sargento. So we have this big green wall of cheese. And in some of our stores, it’s the only thing you see, because our own brand is very strong.” To further help the brand stand out, Equator came up with a cheese-

board concept that provides maximum appetite appeal. The packaging features photography of a cheese board dressed with hunks or slices of cheese, in a very delicatessen manner. When the packages are hung on pegs—with the peg poking through the hole in the top of the board— “it looks like hundreds of cheese boards, and when you touch them, they wobble,” Duffy says. “It brings ‘a smile in the mind.’ If you can have a smile in the mind on top of brilliant design, that makes it all the more memorable, and you end up doing a better job than the national brand.” Another category where Duffy says they did a better job than the NBE was ice cream. Whereas, he says, national brands depend on photography of mashed potatoes (which won’t melt under studio lights) on bizarre backgrounds that are Photoshopped together, Equator shoots

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real ice cream on a real background, surrounded by real ingredients, in its in-house studio (see “If it looks like a real bowl of ice cream you are far more likely to buy into it than if it looks like some weird over-Photoshopped mint leaves just stuck on top, with strawberries floating around,” Duffy says. For the Schnucks brand, Equator used a vintage scooper piled with two scoops of ice cream, photographed just at the point where it began to melt. Says Duffy, “It looks like a macro-closeup caught in the moment where someone is being served ice cream.” Impactful background colors change with the flavor—there are more than 44 in all— and a red rim on the carton lid ties the line together.

Equator photographed real ice cream on a vintage scooper to bring realism to the graphics. Background colors differentiate flavors, while a red rim on the lid ties the line together.

If you can’t beat ’em… As mentioned, in areas where national brands are particularly strong because they evoke trust in the quality, straying from category color cues will backfire—even if the quality of the own-brand product is better. “So, if you were to do cream cheese, and you don’t use silver, consumers aren’t going to believe it’s as good as Philadelphia,” Duffy explains. “Or if you do Oreos, and you use an orange bag for your regular, everyday Oreo, instead of blue, then those sales are going to tank as well.” As mentioned earlier, it’s the same challenge when trying to compete with Coca-Cola. “If you don’t use red, you might as well not even put it on the shelf,” Duffy advises. You also want to protect national brands such as Coca-Cola that bring in big profits. For the carbonated soft drink category, Schnucks took two approaches: 1.) it used the color logic of established brands and tied the line together with a unique illustration style, and 2.) it operated in areas where the national brands don’t play, i.e., flavors like peach, grape, and orange. “So in soda, it’s about protecting the big stuff, which is Coke and diet, and the way you win against the brand is with all your flavored sodas,” says Ulichnie.


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Schnucks’ carbonated soft drinks take their color cues from the national brands, with ‘poppy,’ ‘iconic’ illustrations bringing the line together.

One way Schnucks has found to compete with national carbonated soft drink brands is by offering options that they don’t—namely assorted fruit flavors.

Equator’s graphic design for the soda line is described by Duffy as “really poppy and really iconic,” with the St. Louis arch—a nod to Schnucks’ heritage—incorporated as part of each variety name. “They sit together as a beautiful set,” he says, “and sales have been phenomenal.”

pletely new. In sparkling water, a category where Schnucks previously had no product, it launched a line of six SKUs in a “brilliant, simple design from Equator,” Ulichnie says. Within three weeks, Schnucks was the number one sales unit and profit provider in the sparkling water category. “We basically went from zero to hero in a category the company didn’t even think we belonged in,” says Ulichnie. “And we’ve maintained that position and launched another four SKUs, so we’re up to 10, and we’re doing very well against the national brands.” Other wins include 50 SKUs of snacks and an Oreo product that taste-tests higher than Oreo itself.

Design investment returned tenfold Since Ulichnie and his team started the process of growing Schnucks’ own-brand business in 2017, the company has launched 3,000 products in new packaging designs, which is on track with its goal of 1,000 new products per year. Many of these have been reformulated or are com-


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In addition, since the project began, Schnucks’ own-brand sales have increased from 12% to 18%, or 600 basis points. “We drive a lot more profit than a national brand, and so anything we’ve invested in design has shown gains,” says Ulichnie. “This is the case study of all case studies—it’s one of our team’s proudest achievements,” Ulichnie says. For the success of the project, he credits the Schnucks team, including Director of Design Amber

Jacobs, whom he says has been integral to developing the vision of the rebrand and leading the collaboration from the start, Director of Merchandising Joe Duggan, and Packaging Design Manager Deirdre McKee. He also acknowledges the contributions of the team at Equator Design, in particular Global Creative Director Michael Duffy, Senior Creative & Strategy Director - North America Jen Gaeto, and Account Director Charlie Kuoni, as well as Kevin Conran from branding consultancy Daymon. Ulichnie also emphasizes how important the buyin from his colleagues across Schnucks has been. “There is no way for an own-brand program to be successful without buy-in from every department head in Merchandising,” he says. “We’re lucky enough to work with what I feel is the greatest merchandising leadership team in the business. None of this is possible without their support.”


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Currently Schnucks and Equator are focusing on “filling out the shelf,” Ulichnie says, working on more obscure product categories such as barbecue sauce and similar items. “Remember though, the goal that was laid upon us was 30% penetration, and we’re only halfway there,” he adds. Looking to the future, Ulichnie says the call to action is to take Schnucks’ own brand to the next level. “In the next two years, we are focused on the proven strategies that will move the needle further and take our company to where we need to be. Then maybe at that point, we can put the mission accomplished banner up and see what’s next.” PW

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Multipacker Helps Historic Brewery Juggle Multiplying SKUs There’s a lot more than bock beer in Shiner, Texas. A new automated secondary packaging system allowed Shiner Bock producer Spoetzl Brewery to expand its range of formats, automate variety packs, and ultimately, reach all new cohorts of beer drinkers. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

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By Matt Reynolds, Editor glass bottles, 12-, 16-, 19.2-, and 24-oz cans, and added sleek 12-oz cans If you were to ask craft brew aficionados across the U.S. which beer they in August, 2020. All are or will be available in multiple pack sizes. associate with Texas, Shiner Bock would certainly be a top vote-getter “We’re at a little over 60 SKUs, and with all the different brands, alongside a few select peers. But while it might be the most nationally all the different variety pack combinations, and all the different forrecognizable beer brewed by 111-year old Spoetzl Brewery of Shiner, mats and sizes, we’re talking 350 to 400 pieces to the puzzle for ingreTexas, the company now produces a balanced portfolio of beers with dients, packaging, and so on,” says Tom Fiorenzi, Director of Brewery one to fit any season. All are sold and marketed by The Gambrinus Company of nearby San Antonio. The first and oldest among Shiner varieties is the original recipe, the venerable Shiner Premium, which still sports its original cold-glued label instead of toopolished p-s labels. In fact, all the beers produced at Spoetzl use vintage cold glue labels as a tip of the cap to the classic bottled beer format. The Shiner Bock variety itself spans seasons, with a medium amber hue and malty flavor that makes it as palatable in a Wisconsin winter as it is in the Texas heat. But brewers at Spoetzl couldn’t ignore their local clientele of gulf-coast sun-lovers seeking lighter, refreshing alternatives to darker bock-style beer. Over the years, the brewery added a cross-section of IPAs, lagers, and wheat beers, many featuring Texas ingredients like Fredricksburg peaches or Texas pecans, designed to pair with a beach instead of a fireplace. Spoetzl Brewery, the Texas producer of venerable Shiner Bock beer, currently runs formats The range of primary containers these including 12-oz glass bottles, 12-, 16-, 19.2-, and 24-oz cans, and is adding sleek 12-oz cans in new beer varieties are packaged in is no August, 2020. All are or will be available in multiple pack sizes. less varied. The company now runs 12-oz

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Operations. “This is a town of 2,000 people in South Texas that enjoys a packaging and brewing operation that is absolutely incredible, on par with anyone in the world. We’re running bottles at 1,200 per minute, and we have a smaller can filler, just to match up with the bottle rate, that does 950 per minute.”

Changeover for complex case-packing formats With the variety of formats at Spoetzl, changeovers could easily be a headache. And with the brewery’s long-existing lines of sturdy, dependable, highly mechanical, but less flexible secondary packaging equipment, they still can be. But recently, Spoetzl added a new secondary packaging line with a high degree of both flexibility and simplicity to handle a wide swath of SKUs with fewer tools and less operator time. This was especially important for the cartoning and case-packing functions, A magazine of die-cut labels await bottles. All the beers produced at Spoetzl use vintage given the corresponding variety of paper- cold-glue labels instead of p-s as a tip of the cap to the classic bottled beer format. board cartons and wraps. what we really wanted to do was some more advertising. And with the “On our new line, changeovers mean we have to refit some equipGraphic Packaging QuikFlex 600, we were able to do all the paperboard ment, but it’s not complicated,” says Fiorenzi. “We really spent a lot of cartons for all the different can formats, including 6-, 12-, 18-, and time and a lot of design effort when we put the line in to be able to 24-packs. For foodservice and institutional vendors, like for ballparks handle all of that. Our sideload multipacker, the QuikFlex™600 from or sporting venues, we even have a SKU for what I call our ‘billboard Graphic Packaging International (GPI) —that’s the key to the newer pack’ of 24 16-oz. cans. That one really has some weight to it, but it’s packaging line. That QuikFlex 600 had to be able to do all the different not designed for retail. It features a micro-perforation on the side so combinations of paperboard bottle cartons from 12-, 15-, 18-, to 24that beer vendors at a stadium can easily open the paperboard carton pack configuration. wrap and fill their coolers.” “It also allowed us to do cans in fully enclosed cartons,” he adds. “A The multipacker may be the star of the show in Fiorenzi’s eyes, but lot of people in the craft brewing business are turning to HDPE or other FeedersConveyorsAd.qxp_Layout 3/13/20But 2:15 Page let’s review what’s upstream to set the stage. plastic can handle1carriers. wePM know we1 didn’t want to do that;

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‘Old school’ fillers shine Spoetzl’s packaging line is a bulk glass line, meaning the brewery is committed to bulk inputs coming in ahead of the filler. There, a depalletizer from KHS is able to unload both cans and bottles. Glass formats include a proprietary 24-oz. bottle and a more typical amber-colored 12-oz. bottle. Cans—all printed, no brightstock—are commonly run in 24-, 19.2-, 16-, and 12-oz. sizes formats. After depalletizing, the line splits to convey containers to one of two in-line KHS fillers, one for cans, the other for bottles, but both container styles are sourced from Ball. Prior to entering their respective fillers, bottles pass through a rotary rinser and cans pass through a twist rinser. The company hasn’t moved to ionic air blades for rinsing thanks to a sustainability-minded water recovery system that eases the water input costs. The 144-head KHS volumetric bottle filler is followed immediately by a KHS crown applicator within a monoblock filling enclosure, keeping oxygen pickup to a minimum. Cans are filled on a 74-head volumetric filler from KHS. The canning system is paired with a seamer from Pneumatic Scale-Angelus, a BW Packaging Systems company that Fiorenzi was familiar with from his days as a brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis (he left in 2012). He selected the Angelus seamer due to strong confidence in the equipment itself, a deep institutional knowledge of the equipment among the brewery’s employees, and positive relationships with local Angelus reps that Fiorenzi trusts for service and aftermarket support. “When we look into equipment purchases, we always do it backwards. What I mean by that is we look at who’s going to be maintaining the machinery longterm, and what those individuals are like,” he says. “Because even though you can show me a nice machine feature, whether or not the thing’s going to run every day is the big question. I want to make absolutely sure that I can get someone local on the maintenance side of things. Also, relationship-wise, you want to maintain a lot of these partnership as much as you possibly can because it makes a difference when you’re talking running OEEs [overall equipment effectiveness] of 85 to 95%. If you want to run above an 85% OEE all the time, you need to have quality people to maintain it.” Both fillers, Fiorenzi says, are fairly old-school in that they are highly mechanical and don’t rely on servo or electromechanical controls. But the beer quality he is able to get out of these more traditional fillers makes up for the lack of IIIoT whizz-bangery. Efficiencies that could be gained with a “state-of-the-art” filler take a back seat to the quality he can achieve with traditional mechanical fillers. “Both fillers actually run at about a +10 or +15 part per billion [PPB] in total packaged oxygen [TPO].

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To me, that’s state-of-the-art from a quality standpoint,” he says. “If you can brew your beer to 10 PPB TPO, and then get it into the can or bottle at a 25, that’s just absolutely fantastic. So, we do even better than that, and our freshness is through the roof as a result. “A lot of brewers forget that to make this great beer, you do all this work up front,” Fiorenzi adds. “But if you can’t put it in the can, bottle, or keg [without good oxygen pickup numbers], you’re wasting your time. The quality is never going to be better than when it is in the tank. So, you’re trying to get that quality beer into the container as quickly as you possibly can, and as efficiently as you possibly can. For quality, oxygen is your number-one enemy.”

Vintage labels favored over slick modern p-s Filled and seamed cans exit the monoblock, and after another quick water rinse and an air blade or two to dry them, they are conveyed to secondary packaging stations in-line. Bottles, though, still require labels. Upon exiting the KHS monoblock, bottles enter a Krones labeler where a stack of die-cut printed labels are glue-applied to each filled, crowned, and dried bottle. Laser coding from Videojet is used for bottle coding and marking. On the other line, cans are marked with inkjet printers, also from Videojet.

Watch a video of the packaging line in action at Note: the video doesn’t feature the multipacker, but other portions of the line are well illustrated. “Partially because of the age of the brewery, we haven’t moved into pressure sensitive labels on bottles,” Fiorenzi says. “When we put this new line in, we had a lot of conversations about doing so. But at the end of the day, we wanted to show the heritage of the bottle, and it started with a real paper label. We wanted a paper label to represent our history. And there’s been so much work with paper labels recently that the quality is fantastic. We just never could justify the pressure sensitive label application—p-s labels look fantastic, but they are expensive at twice the cost for the machinery, and twice the cost for converting. So with traditional paper labels, we’re able to focus on the heritage of the beer. It’s a retro look that fits, so we like it a lot.”

Old and new options for secondary packaging Leaving the labeler, bottles are diverted into one of two routes. They either are conveyed to the production facility’s box shop or to the new GPI multipacker. In the box shop, six-pack bottle inserters from Wayne Automation, corrugated mother-carton erectors from Pearson Packaging Systems, and a rotary drop packer for six-packs and loose 24-packs from Hartness keep the lines fed with the appropriate secondary packaging on specific SKU runs. These older, mechanical pieces of equipment are still running strong, and as mentioned above, Fiorenzi has a soft spot for mechanical equipment because it’s repairable, it’s easy to maintain, and it’s easy to teach maintenance techs how to take care of it. If not conveyed to the box shop, bottles (or cans from the can filler) are diverted to the newer line with the multipacker. Fiorenzi was no stranger to multipackers when he and Spoetzl commissioned the new line. At Anheuser-Busch, he used one and got familiar with its capabilities and flexibility. “Even though Shiner did not have that many SKUs at the time we were adding the new line—we hadn’t even thought about going to an

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Resources to Maximize Your OEE Spoetzl Brewery and Fiorenzi closely monitor OEE, just as any automated CPG should. The OpX Leadership Network, convened by PMMI, provides several solutions and work products designed to foster operational excellence, particularly overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Check out the free, downloadable OEE Guidelines, OEE Starter Tool, and OEE Benefits Calculator to define, benchmark, and ultimately, improve your equipment’s efficiency. Visit for the free downloads. PW

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The side-load multipacker from GPI erects cartons in parallel with an infeed of bottles (or cans) that are indexed to fit the carton format.

The system accomodates multiple bottle and cans sizes in carton formats of 6-, 12-, 15-, 18-, and 24-packs.

18- or 24-pack—we were looking at what would give us the most flexibility. We wanted flexibility not for the time being, but also for 10 years into the future. We asked ourselves ‘What was the thing that was going to make a difference for the company down the road?’ And as a result of what we’ve done, we were able to provide a number of SKUs to some of our big off-premise accounts to be able to offer a lot of selection in the retail cooler that we would never even thought about being able to do in years past.” The old and new secondary packaging machinery lines work well in concert. The full parallel-line system is set up so that, at any one time, it is either producing six-packs, 12-packs, or multipacks, but they’re all of

the same beer variety coming out of the bottle filler. “Say we’re on one brand of beer. We can kick over and run the six packs of that brand on conventional machinery while we’re doing a conversion over on the multipacker. And as we finish the conversion on the multipacker, we kick back over—and it’s just one real quick swing—to start running the multipacker and run that product without ever having to change the filler. And then, if we need to make another conversion to do something different on the multipacker, we kick back over to the more conventional machinery and start making six-packs again. We can jump back and forth with the same beer on the filler and do these conversions on the fly. That gives just fantastic OEE, even

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Filled cartons are closed, or “wrapped” in the parlance of the brewery, with limited need for tools or time during changeovers between format.

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Finished cartons exit the multipacker for end-of-line packaging, which consists of a twin-robotic palletizer from Fanuc and a Lantech stretch wrapper. though we’re doing all these packaging changes on the backside. This piece of equipment was what allowed us to go from the 20-odd SKUs when I started to the 60-plus we have today.” End-of-line packaging consists of an ultra-fast (1 case/sec) twinrobotic palletizer from Fanuc, as supplied by KHS. An inline KHS tray packer does reside inline immediately above the palletizer, but it is only employed in the case of 12-pack cartons that tend to slow the robotic palletizer. The line ends with inkjet lot coding and dating, and finally a Lantech stretch wrapper.

Variety pack capability Given its better than 200% growth in SKU count in recent years, Spoetzl saw a fresh opportunity to make the most of its increasingly varied portfolio, and maybe attract a fresh set of beer drinkers, through a variety-pack offering. Craft brewers know that variety pack lines are a tough proposition for a host of reasons—from keeping cold inventory of many different beer varieties, to ensuring the product mix remains consistent while being hand-collated, to finding smart enough technology to do what a human operator could do. But thanks to another multipacker, this time a QuikFlex™200 also from GPI purchased in 2017, plus three KHS-supplied robots capable of depalletizing beer and “reading” the beer varieties that they handle, Spoetzl and Fiorenzi were able to tackle the variety pack format with comparative ease.

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End-of-line palletizing consists of an ultrafast (1 case/sec) twin-robotic palletizer from Fanuc, supplied by KHS. The 12-pack cartons are first loaded into 12x2, 24-pack format trays ahead of the palletizer to keep the speeds optimized. “We went with the 200 for the same reason why we went with the 600—flexibility to handle both current and future formats. Even though we didn’t have a variety pack process down yet, we knew we’d grow into it and use a lot more of the machine’s flexibility. And what’s always been interesting about GPI is the fact that every time we come up with a new SKU, format, or variety pack, they’re capable of doing it.” Beers destined for variety pack operations with the QuikFlex 200 and robots are filled, “loosely” case-packed into mother cartons, and

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palletized on the conventional packaging lines described earlier. These loose pallets aren’t designed for shipping or logistics, so they don’t eat up too much material as they only travel from the end of the main packaging lines to the variety pack room right next door. There, a six-lane bottle infeed, “manned” and fed by the three robots, conveys robotically collated beers to the multipacker. With six lanes feeding into a six-pack basket carrier or 12-pack mother carton, virtually any combination of collated beers is possible within the multipacker, though six-packs of 3 x 2 (three sets of two beers) or 6 x 1 (six different beers) are probably most common. The three robots pick and place bottles into the six-lane infeed from six different unloading stations carrying the loose pallets on conveyors. Each of the six pallet conveyors can hold three pallets at once, so when full, the variety pack station churns through 18 pallets of beer, exporting curated variety packs to return to the main lines for true end-of-line palletizing. Compared to hand-labor, the robots are programed to pick at 10 to 15 cases/min in a fixed, repeatable collation pattern, and in a limited-space environment.

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Secret to Multipacking Success “The biggest issue with any of these multipackers is the organization prior to the pack; in making sure you have enough lanes and that they are properly fed,” Fiorenzi says. “You have to know what you’re doing completely, and the programming before and after a multipack is not easy. You need a great programmer involved with getting every bottle or can into its proper lane. That was by far the most difficult part of the whole operation. You’re going to be able to wrap it [in a paperboard carton], and you’re going to be able to side load it and everything else. But the issue is not with the equipment. It’s the management before and after.” PW

Of course, beers filled on the mains line that are eventually bound for variety packs need to be loosely packed into erected mother cartons to get them onto a pallet and over to the variety pack room. Interestingly, the mother cartons they are initially packed into are variety pack cartons, printed with all of the appropriate variety pack messaging and decoration. When they arrive at the variety pack room, these loosely packed mother cartons are depalletized by the robots, then conveyed empty around the six-lane collation infeed and QuikFlex 200, to a standard drop packer just behind the multipacker on the line. That way, no mother carton material is wasted in the process of loosely palletizing, depalletizing, then re-case packing in the drop packer. Later, the variety pack mother cartons are sealed, date coded, palletized, stretch wrapped via a Lantech machine, and headed to the shipping room. “We actually built this variety pack system ourselves,” Fiorenzi says. “We got a local robotics company involved with it, we’re still working on it, and always fine-tuning the system with these local folks. We decided to take that on ourselves because we really could not find anybody to do it for us, at the time. That’s probably been the biggest issue in the industry right now, being able to manage those variety packs, and we do it with a reasonable amount of labor. We could always make them by hand, but then your cost of goods just goes through the roof. That’s been a little trick of ours, our capability to be able to do that. And the key for a lot of it has to do with the speed and you just keep the speed reasonable. We do 10 cases per minute, and we can do a lot of things at that speed.”

Cans’ popularity precipitates line change At press time, strong consumer interest in cans is leading Spoetzl to a change in the variety pack line. The robotic pickers, designed for bottles, are being replaced by a more can-friendly system that includes leasing yet another QuikFlex 600, this time for the can variety pack operations. “It should arrive by January 2021,” Firoenzi says. “We need the QF 600 for ease of changeovers between bottles and cans and possible additional SKUs of each. We will evaluate the production needs in January and might keep the QF 200 if we have the demand for another variety pack line.” PW

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Compostable Overwrap for Tea Bags Listening to the stakeholders behind this determined effort is a vivid reminder of how many factors must be weighed before a compostable film can be commercialized. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN


Plant-based packaging progress

By Pat Reynolds, VP Editor especially where flexible films are concerned. It took about 10 years, and it wasn’t without a setback or two. But Oak“Ten years ago the market was just beginning to see some things land-based Numi Organic Tea now has an overwrap for individual tea in rigids, like compostable plates and cutlery for the to-go market that bags that is ASTM D6868-substantiated as compostable in commercial were starch- or potato-based materials,” says Franch. “But you weren’t composting facilities. Developed by sustainable packaging company Elk seeing brands on store shelves in plant-based flexible films. And even Packaging, the three-layer adhesive lamination consists of, from the PLA, which has been around for some time, was for a long time only outside in, paper/cellophane/polylactic acid. The cellophane layer is Futamura’s Natureflex, a clear cast film made from genetically modified corn made in Futamura’s plant in the UK of sources. As an organic tea company, renewable wood pulp from managed that was never going to be acceptplantations. According to Jake Hebert, able to us. The PLA in our material is Senior Manager of Sales and Marketsourced from non-GMO sugar cane that ing at Futamura, the gas barrier propis Bonsucro-certified, so it’s not only erties of this particular Natureflex are ethically sourced, it’s ethically grown.” between 0.03 and 0.06 cc of O2/100 sq Bonsucro Certification is a program in./24 hr. “The crystalline nature of celled by multiple stakeholders developed lophane makes it a very effective oxyfor the sugarcane industry to meet gen barrier,” he adds. “In this particular purchasing policies of large-scale buyapplication we include a very light meters seeking suppliers who support fair allization for moisture barrier. It’s such labor and environmental protection in a minute amount it’s barely detectable sugar producing communities. “We knew from the beginning,” when the material breaks down in the Franch continues, “that developing this compost facility. Whatever does remain doesn’t hinder the degradation process packaging material was going to be because the aluminum is effectively in- It took a lot of trial and error, but the folks at Numi Organic challenging. But we figured we’d throw our hat in the ring and be committed at ert, a naturally occurring element.” Tea now have a tea bag overwrapper that is ASTM D6868an early stage and to build a coalition The PLA from PSI, a blown extru- substantiated as compostable in commercial composting of brands that were also committed so sion that brings heat seal properties to facilities. that we were able to demonstrate to the material, is PSI’s EarthFirst PLA. PSI those on the material supply side that there were in fact brands ready sources PLA pellets from Total-Corbion, which in turn uses only GMOand willing to invest seriously in compostable flexible films. It required free sugar cane to polymerize its Luminy brand PLA. a commitment on our part to make the journey with the suppliers in As for the paper, it’s FSI-certified virgin paper surface printed flexo terms of trialing early-stage materials. Keep in mind, too, that some of and given a proprietary coating to protect the ink and deliver the right the compostable packaging materials that showed great promise over coefficient of friction (COF) required by the high-speed wrapping mathe years have now been phased out. But they did play a role, I supchinery. pose, in that they were precursors of the successful materials we have When asked why it took 10 years to develop the desired structure, today.” In a nutshell, says Franch, that’s why it took 10 years to develop Numi Director Strategic Sourcing and Sustainability Jane Franch says a compostable tea bag overwrap. it was mostly a matter of the industry not having the right materials,

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8/24/20 11:46 AM

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up in distribution? Can it be efficiently printed and laminated?” The coalition of brands Franch menA key challenge, predictably enough, tions, which flies under the OSC2 banwas to keep cost in check. One way to ner, describes itself as a national comdo that is to minimize thickness. But the munity of CEOs and business leaders thickness of the lamination also had to representing sustainably focused natube something that the C24 ral products companies. Its mission: Tea Bag Packaging machine from “To address the toughest sustainability IMA would be happy with. This maproblems facing our industry and our chine puts tea into roll-fed filter paper, planet by building new regenerative attaches string and paper tag by way of business models and agricultural sysspecialized knotting technology as optems.” Among the group’s core memposed to using staples, wraps each tea bers are firms like organic nut butter bag in the roll-fed compostable overmaker Justin’s, baby food maker Plum wrap, and puts 12, 16, or 18 wrapped Organics (part of Campbell’s Soup), ortea bags into cartons that it erects from ganic baby food company Happy Family Folding cartons hold either 12, 16, or 18 individually flat blanks. And it’s capable of doing (part of Danone), grains producer Lund- wrapped tea bags. this at speeds to 400 bags/min, though berg Family Farms, and California waste the Numi package runs closer to 260/min. Says Cloutier, “It has a sweet hauler Recology. Also enthusiastic participants, not surprisingly, are Elk spot where material thickness is concerned.” In other words, develop a Packaging and PSI. material too thin and the C24’s efficiency is compromised. “We’re like the chef behind the recipe,” says Elk Packaging’s Jeanne “Then came the actual compostability testing,” Cloutier continues. Cloutier, Director of Sustainability Projects. “We did the R&D and project “We had a couple of things qualified where the price was acceptable management. It’s never a simple matter of is it compostable? It has to and machineability and speed were good, but the material failed the have the right coefficient of friction if it’s going to run efficiently on the compostability test. So we had to tweak the structure and requalify it specialized wrapping machine running at the copacker. Will it stand

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on the C24 and go through the compostability testing exercise again.” Persistence and perseverance paid off. In the first quarter of 2020, consumers nationwide began purchasing Numi tea bags with refreshed overwrapping and folding cartons whose graphics included the following messaging: “PLANT BASED TEA WRAPPER.” And how will these wrappers actually get composted and not simply become part of the solid waste stream? By becoming part of the residential food waste collection system, which consists of both local drop-off centers and curbside pickup programs. According to a June 2019 report spearheaded by U.S. Public Interest Research Group, there are more than 19,000 towns and cities in the U.S., but only 326 offer curbside food waste collection. But the report also notes that the number of communities offering composting programs has increased by 65% in the past five years.

offset by the installation of a new-generation IMA packaging machine at our contract packager’s facility that allowed us to increase efficiency of production, which helps bring down overall cost per unit. This new equipment let us move from 150 tea bags per minute to 260 tea bags per minute. We also reevaluated all of our packaging components and sent out an RFP for every single component to really get our costs down wherever we could. So that 35% increase is less painful when you put

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The Sustainable Packaging Coalition addressed the subject of compostable packaging just this past May in a thoughtful piece by GreenBlue Project Manager Olga Kachook. “Although compostable packaging is a small part of today’s recovery puzzle,” says Kachook, “compostable packaging plays a critical role in brands’ future packaging goals.” Be sure to go to to read the entire article.

‘Painful part’ When asked about the cost of the new tea bag wrapper compared to the paper/metallized BOPP lamination it replaces, Franch is realistic. “That’s the painful part,” she says. “It’s 30 to 35% more than where we were previously. Some of that is


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Supply Chain Disruption Giving Tea Producers a Boost? A trifecta of colder weather, pandemic-induced labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions has created a tea market shortage that may provide a needed short-term boost for cultivators. The global tea market has been depressed over the last few years due to an excess supply, but the coronavirus pandemic

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has created labor and supply chain disruptions during a time when there is a surge in demand. As more people globally are confined to home, demand for the healthy beverage—which is second in global consumption, in quantity, after only water— has increased.

China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Vietnam account for 82% of global tea exports. But according to a semi-recent April, 2020 Reuters article, “Coronavirus brews trouble for tea, disrupts supply as demand spikes,” labor lockdowns caused by the pandemic and colder-than-usual weather in three out of the five countries have disrupted the leaf-picking season, delaying shipments and creating price hikes as demand for the beverage climbs in other countries. Even Turkey, which globally consumes the most tea but usually produces its own supply, has been struck by labor shortages due to a lack of migrant workers. More recent August reporting in outlets ranging from Britain’s Daily Mail to the Australian Independent confirm the earlier Reuters report. Air freight, ocean freight, and land transport have all been disrupted by the pandemic, and loss of labor due to sick workers or stay-at-home restrictions are impacting the food supply chain everywhere. Other recent developments such as the impact of meat processing plants that have begun to close, only to be mandated to remain open in the U.S., and excess milk and produce going to waste at the source, illustrate the tenuous nature of the global food supply chain. Although the surge in demand of the hot tea market is expected to be short-term, the good news is that while it lasts and prices are up, it is giving “much needed support” to the industry. –Kim Overstreet

Find your scale at

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as OSC2 builds momentum. “It’s really a broad coalition,” she observes. it all in perspective. Keep in mind, too, that when we first started inquiring about a compostable tea bag overwrap, we were told it would “We’ve got more than 40 brands involved now, and we’ve forged a key be twice as expensive, not 35% more expensive. So that’s an important link between the brands and the R&D people at the companies on the thing for brands to keep in mind. If you supply side of things. That permits us to start at the beginning and you look at the get some conversations going on things price and you say, ‘Wow, there’s no way,’ like seal temperatures, machineabilwithout really going down the innovation ity, oxygen and moisture barrier requireroad along with your supplier partners, ments, and so on. These discussions are you’ll never make any progress.” Franch essential if we’re to make further progadds that the cost to the consumer in the ress. The standup pouch with a zipper is store remains the same. a good example. Right now there isn’t a One thing that clearly is not the same plant-based zipper that’s available for a is the environmental impact of the wrapstandup pouch. But we’re working with per since it was revised. The previous the materials folks to overcome that, and wrapper consisted of 100% PCR paper it’s important for them to know that there adhesive laminated to a 70-ga metallized are brands willing to invest in it. Each BOPP that provided both barrier and heat generation of materials becomes better sealability. The new wrapper consists of Included on the bottom of the folding carton is the than the one before, so innovation kind 100% FSC-certified virgin paper/80-ga PLANT BASED TEA WRAPPER message. of snowballs to the point where we find metallized Natureflex/36-ga EarthFirst ourselves in a better position where bioPLA. For 5 million tea pouches, says PSI, replacing the 70-ga metallized alternatives are actually available. It’s a matter of encouraging people BOPP with 36-ga EarthFirst PLA and 80-ga Natureflex translates to an to dip their toes in the water, because you’ll never really know what approximate reduction of 154,000 lb of CO2. materials are going to work until you get some beta material on your machinery to see how it runs.” While Numi’s Franch is pleased by the outcome of this particular For more on this innovative package, see my column on page 7. PW compostable packaging initiative, you get the feeling she expects more

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Multipacking Optimized Top quality natural mineral water and an exclusive bottle design are the trademarks of Danone’s Badoit brand, and now their multipacks are also consistently first class. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Shelf impact

Film efficiency

Pat Reynolds, VP Editor Emeritus

Danone group’s Badoit brand of carbonated natural spring water, obtained from natural sources at Saint-Galmier just southwest of the French city of Lyon, has always been positioned as a product that is best in class. So it’s no surprise the brand’s managers view the appearance of both primary and secondary packaging as absolutely critical. Etienne Marie, Plant Manager at Badoit, sums it up this way. “Our customers make the highest demands of our products—and not just regarding our water. The perfect quality of the packaging also plays a decisive role.” A few years back Badoit management recognized that there was room for improvement in the appearance of its multipacks, which often had creases in the shrink film that resulted in distorted graphics. Also less than optimal was that sometimes the multipacks of PET bottles weren’t stable enough to withstand the rigors of distribution. In some ways it was simply a matter of outmoded packaging machines that were no longer state-of-the-art in terms of efficiency, sustainability, and technology in general. But regardless of the cause, management decided that it was time for a change. Says Marie, “We were no longer able or prepared to accept these compromises in packaging quality and machine efficiency.”

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Enclosed in shrink film, six packs of PET bottles (above left) make their way into the newly optimized shrink tunnel. Finished packs are wrinkle-free. The optimized shrink wrapper can now use thinner shrink film (below) than previous machines could.

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Parent company Danone was all in favor of initiating a search for improved multipacking technology. It launched a competition between its individual brands and their production plants, who then turned to their respective suppliers, among them KHS. “Danone Waters wanted a packaging machine that, thanks to significant further developments in the shrink tunnel segment in particular, considerably improves the standard of the shrink film processing available to date,” says Christopher

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Stuhlmann, Head of the Line Product Division at KHS. Following intensive talks on the new specifications to be adhered to and the first promising tests, KHS was ultimately awarded the contract for the project. Needless to say, a key driver behind the development was the wish to eliminate distortion of lettering and logo. The KHS team, working closely with the engineers at Badoit, replaced the old KHS Kisters shrink packer with a whole new machine: the KHS Innopack Kisters SP A-H shrink packer. First came initial commissioning in December 2017, followed by a process of optimizing the system and its processes under real production conditions. “At first we weren’t able to fully achieve the required packaging quality with the combination of shrink film and machine used,” says Stuhlmann. The team therefore spent the following months working on the various machine components, further developing, constructing, installing, and testing them—time and time again. One major development on the new generation of machines was a way of distributing the hot air supply more accurately on both lanes. The optimum alignment of the hot air flow on both sides of the multipacks while they’re still loosely wrapped in film also had top priority for the KHS machinery designers. “Both are crucial for crease-free pack quality,” says Stuhlmann. Part of the solution KHS came up with was a specially designed central tunnel nozzle, which will be made available to other projects in the future. Also helping to ensure crease-free packs are special air nozzles with optimized perforated nozzle plates. The reimagined shrink packer sets a new benchmark for efficiency and saved resources. For example, it now uses an optimum width of film per pack thanks to better film web control. Because of this improvement, the film is guided to the center of the pack with very minor deviations, thus ensuring a stable pack at all times after the shrinking process. Consequently, web width of shrink film has been reduced from 720 to 680 mm. “With this new technical feature we were able to achieve the goal set by the customer, namely of providing optimum packaging quality while using the lowest possible amount of material,” says Stuhlmann. The team of experts also managed to boost the packer’s performance: up to 37,000 bottles/hr can be formed into packs of six on two lanes at the existing line speed. The final acceptance test at the beginning of 2019 was performed to the full satisfaction of all involved. “KHS has met our requirements in every respect,” says Marie. Creasing and distorted print are now no longer a problem for the premium brand. “Thanks to the improved quality we’ve been able to double the size of the lettering on the packaging,” adds Marie. “This is a great advantage in product presentation. Our brand is now more visible to our customers than ever before.” PW

8/19/20 9:44 AM

New metal detection technology increases the probability of detection For maximum food safety and brand protection The Thermo Scientific™ Sentinel™ 1000 Selectscan Metal Detector with Autolearn reliably selects the optimal detection frequency to maximize operational efficiency. An intuitive touch screen controller and up to 25% greater sensitivity provide food manufacturers with the highest levels of food safety.

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Conducting a Virtual FAT With COVID-19 making it difficult to schedule in-person business meetings of any kind, this Italian packaging machinery OEM is leaning on remote work solutions. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

COVID-19 workaround

Remote diagnostics

A brand leader in the design and manufacturing of processing and packaging machines for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food industries, Italy’s MG2 has faced the same challenges that other OEMs have faced as the ongoing pandemic has severely limited the movement of both people and goods. But the firm has overcome some of these difficulties thanks to remote working solutions like Microsoft Teams, video conferencing, and Office 365. In fact, by relying on this technology, MG2 successfully carried out a Factory Acceptance Test with Dr. Gustav Klein GmbH & Co. KG, a specialist in contract manufacturing and distributing herbal medicinal and homeopathic products. The machine at the center of the re- Remote FAT procedures shown in this screen save include a mechanical engineer at MG2 mote FAT is a compact capsule filler with (upper left) operating an MG2 compact machine, Quality Engineer Sarah Jacobs of Dr. Gustav a maximum speed of 48,000 capsules/hr. Klein (upper right), and two MG2 experts shown near the bottom of the screen. It’s equipped with two dosing units for Acceptance protocol that we usually apply. It makes it possible, in fact, powders and pellets, two capsule transport size parts, and a statistical to verify full compliance with the order and that the machine operates weight control system Model SWC. Dr. Gustav Klein bought the capsule correctly. filler knowing the COVID-19 pandemic was underway. That’s why a re“In this specific case, the customer asked to weigh some of his capsules mote procedure had to be defined to both run the FAT and carry out once a production batch was finished. The capsules were then collected product validation. in three stages during one hour of production: at the beginning, at the “In this first remote FAT we used two video cameras,” says Eng. Fabend, and in the middle of the batch production. They were weighed one rizio Buffoni, MG2 Area Manager, “one fixed and one on the operator. by one, subsequently emptied, and weighed again. The goal was to give Wearable technology allowed us to show all the components purchased the customer evidence that the capsules had been filled as expected.” by the customer. The live procedure totally corresponds to the Factory

Conducting Virtual FATs in 2020: Best Practices The OpX Leadership Network recently released best practices and leadership guidelines for executing virtual factory acceptance tests (vFATs), to address the changing operational landscape brought on by COVID-19. This work product tackles how to most effectively use communication and connection technologies to allow consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to interact remotely with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Download for free at PW

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The live procedure totally corresponds to the Factory Acceptance protocol that we usually apply. It makes it possible, in fact, to verify full compliance with the order and that the machine operates correctly. The remote procedure, which covers all the steps necessary for the correct execution of a FAT, involves sharing all the documents of both validation and order confirmation, strictly following what is displayed by the two cameras. The batch reports processed by the machine were made available to the customer in real time, thus overcoming the limits imposed by the physical distance between machine builder and machine buyer. The test recording, lasting three working days of eight hours each, is another tool that let the customer objectively evaluate the test. “A key element of the FAT is the objective evaluation of the correct capsule filling,” says Buffoni. “In this particular case, the evaluation was highlighted by two specific tests: the SWC weight control system, which tests a capsule every 20 seconds, and a further statistics check requested by the customer. Specifically, we manually weighed the capsules on a scale in front of the camera, thus ensuring maximum reliability and objectivity of the filling process.” In addition, by relying on the same remote technology, it was possible to verify machine documentation items such as the user manual by connecting the customer with the MG2 specialist in charge. —Pat Reynolds

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62 PW SEP2020


Single- and ThreePhase Soft Starters AutomationDirect’s Stellar SR35 series solid-state soft starters are available in three frame sizes to control both 1-phase and 3-phase AC induction motors with 24VDC control voltage (optional 110-230 VAC).


Condition Monitoring Sensor Balluff’s condition monitoring sensor can measure vibration, temperature, relative humidity, and ambient pressure. It collects and processes these readings, then outputs digital statistical data to a host system via IO-Link.

Three-Phase Power Analyzer Carlo Gavazzi offers the WM15 three-phase power analyzer that can be used for single-, two-, and three-phase systems, as well as wild-leg systems.


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Thermal Flowmeter Sensor Sick announces the FTMg multifunctional thermal flowmeter sensor for the detection of gas flow, temperature, and process pressure.


Software for Advanced Manufacturing The Drives & Motion division of Yaskawa America, Inc. introduces Yaskawa Compass, a software user interface tool for advanced manufacturing.

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Digital Drive Paper Converting Machine Co., part of BarryWehmiller, launches Smart TOUCH HMI a new human-machine interface available on Forte tissue converting lines.

Aerotech offers the XC2 PWM compact, single-axis digital drive for motion control applications. The XC2 can control brushless DC, brush DC, voice coil, or stepper motors at up to 100 VDC operating voltage and 10 A peak current capability.

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Combination Scale System Slashes Labor, Doubles Throughput Beyond the expected speed boost and labor reduction caused by a new combination scale and depositor system, benefits that came along for the ride included accuracy that significantly reduced giveaway. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Limit giveaway

Protein packaging

By Matt Reynolds, Editor Protein is the center of the production bullseye for Sugar Creek Packing Co., a Cincinnati-based co-man/co-pack that serves both retail and foodservice industries, mostly for brands or in-store private label. Bacon was the core competency upon which the company was founded, but in the last five years, it has expanded to include a range of meats, mostly ready-to-eat, including a line of meatballs. Sugar Creek now operates six manufacturing and packaging facilities with four in Ohio, one Indiana, and another in Kansas. It stands to reason that in the thin-workforce era, these past five years of expansion must’ve relied heavily on automation. But Alex Hauck, VP, Engineering, at Sugar Creek, says that shift has been slow largely due to the artisan culture and variability inherent in proteins. “I would say in the last three to four years we’ve become more automated,” he says. “Our industry traditionally didn’t lend itself to a lot of automation, but there definitely have been advances in the last several years and we’ve strategically taken advantage of those opportunities. It’s just with the way the labor force is these days, you really have to get into more automation. Investment in automation definitely is worthwhile, the ROI is there for sure.” Demonstrating this shift away from hand labor and toward capital investment in machinery, Sugar Creek’s Indiana plant features a pair of packaging lines specializing in vacuum-packed, individually quick- frozen (IQF) meatballs that are destined for big brand distribution.

Decision factors in scale upgrade When the company first relocated meatball production to the Indiana plant, Hauck says Sugar Creek dabbled at automating for some time, but with marginal success. Originally, the Indiana line scaled and

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Sugar Creek’s Indiana plant features a pair of packaging lines specializing in thermoformed trays of vacuum-packed frozen (IQF) meatballs that are destined for big brand distribution. The new combination scales seamlessly integrate with the existing thermoforming machinery. loaded meatballs into thermoformed trays (or pockets) which were then vacuum sealed. The setup included two mirrored lines, each including a legacy scale, a legacy depositor, and a Multivac thermoforming machinery system. “And when I say dabbled at automating, I mean we did scale the product automatically, but it was rather inefficient. We often had to supplement the automation with operators who, in some cases, would literally hand-weigh the product and hand feed it into each thermo-

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formed pocket before it was sealed,” Hauck says. Tim McDermott, packaging engineer at Sugar Creek, began looking for new combination scales to replace the legacy scaling and depositing, and eventually landed on a Yamato combination scale solution that would seamlessly integrate with the thermoforming machinery. Using this new scale, Hauck says they had an opportunity to right-size the scales, take advantage of some newer technology, and also use the scales’ automatic depositors to automatically fill the thermoformed Multivac pockets under the depositor and scale. “That depositing system was a big factor in our decision,” he says. “Two [Yamato] reps came out and talked to us about the depositor, how it worked, and its sanitary design, which is very important in a meat facility. These particular scales are in a ready-to-eat food production room, which for us has the highest level of scrutiny as far as sani-

Labor reduction was the first noticeable benefit after the combination scale installation, but throughput improvements also made an impression. tary design. We liked Yamato’s methodology around correctly sizing a scale, selecting the depositor that would best fit, showing us how they would fit together, and demonstrating how they can be removed for cleaning and maintenance. A lot of those factors went into our decision. The price was competitive—I wouldn’t say it was the lowest price, but it was certainly competitive.” Hauck also mentions that prior to this installation, Sugar Creek had one (though only one) Yamato scale at the Kansas facility, one operating in a different packaging capacity. But it was working well enough to get noticed. Sugar Creek did solicit bids from various scale manufacturers, but confidence in Yamato certainly weighed heavily.

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Market Snapshot: Frozen Food Growth of the frozen food market declined overall, but trends towards plant-based ice cream, healthy options for pizza, and frozen entrees are leading growth areas, while flexible packaging gains ground as a packaging format. According to 2019 Trends and Advances in Food Packaging and Processing, a report by PMMI’s Business Intelligence, frozen food holds a 5.5% share of the nine food categories, with the number of establishments decreasing to 1,125 between 2014 to 2017 (a CAGR of -0.9%), and the number of employees decreasing to 104,474 in the same period, at a CAGR of -0.6%. Frozen food packaging trends include more flexible packaging to reduce costs and have less weight. Convenience trends continued in frozen foods too, with a growth in hand-held entrees and single-serve frozen treats. Frozen waffles and gelato both surged in growth. Of frozen food e-commerce trends, one Director of Packaging at a frozen food company said, “I do not foresee much change for frozen foods for e-commerce for a few years; it is too expensive to ship.”

Frozen Food Product Processing Trends •T he frozen food sector is undergoing modernization in both ingredients and packaging. •F rozen foods continue to lose ground to fresh foods as millennials gain even more buying power. • Frozen foods are catching up to trends like vegan, ethnic, gluten-free, organic, dairyfree, non-GMO, or antibiotic-free meat. •S mall gains will continue to be made by incorporating healthier options in frozen foods. •G rowth in innovative food paring for frozen vegetables. •D emand for products with higher protein and healthier carbohydrates. Consumer habits are driving change in this market as premium frozen pizza options offer more healthy choices like vegan, gluten-free and organic. Premium frozen pizza was up 4.5% in the last year. Plant-based ice cream and novelties showed a marked growth with a 27% increase, while conventional ice cream grew only 1%. The demand for convenient and health conscious options such as organic or natural

food products is still in demand for Gen Z, as 29% are more likely to eat shelf-to-microwave dinners, 26% frozen breakfast entrees or sandwiches, and 23% more likely to eat complete frozen dinners. Get the entire report at, or download a FREE executive summary. —Kim Overstreet

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Results Labor reduction was the first noticeable benefit after installation, but throughput improvements also made an impression. Prior, Sugar Creek’s meatball lines were over-staffing the packaging machine, and they achieved only half the rated throughput of the packaging machine. “Since we added the scales, our staffing is much more in line with how we are supposed to be,” he says. “There is one person to replenish

film. I’d say across two Yamato and Multivac systems, now we have one operator and we’re achieving the rated throughput of the packaging machine.” In an unintended benefit, the tolerance of the scales was so improved over existing equipment or hand labor that Sugar Creek also achieved a yield increase. The scales are able to select the precisely correct combination of meatballs in every pocket, meaning giveaway has gone down to within a 0.5% threshold. Previously, that number was in the 7% range. “I wouldn’t say we were up and running immediately but within two weeks we were hitting full cycle, which for an automation project is doing very well. We’ve had other instances where that has taken months to fully dial in and in this case, Yamato was great working with us, their service was there.”

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To feed each of the combination scale systems, an incline conveyor carries the flash-frozen meatballs from upstream processing to a mezzanine level. There, a vibratory conveyor, programmed to work in conjunction with the Yamato combination scales, feeds them both and provides product only as each of the scales calls for it. After primary packaging, the sealed meatball trays pass through an Anritsu x-ray detection machinery and checkweigher system. After that, depending on the product, trays are either case packed for an HPP (high-pressure processing) step, which is done at a separate facility, or a sleeve is applied to the tray in a semi-automated process.


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To feed each of the combination scale systems, an incline conveyor carries the flash-frozen meatballs from upstream processing to a mezzanine level.

As is usually the case with automation, increased throughput upstream invites—often demands—improvements further downstream. Sugar Creek is close to installing semi-automatic case erectors that will make it simpler for operators to hand-load primary packages to each case as it passes from the erector down a conveyor. The company also has plans in place to automate the full facility with a common palletizing area.

HPP: High Pressure Podcast? Interested in learning more about the shelf-life extending High Pressure Processing method that Sugar Creek employs for some of its meat products in thermoformed trays? Or are you already an HPP pro who’s seeking to sharpen your knowledge? Don’t miss this threeepisode set of UnPACKed podcasts from the Cold Pressure Council, they’re available to listen to for free at this site. Visit to access these free podcasts, or find them by searching for the UnPACKED Podcast wherever you usually get your podcasts. PW

“It’s probably worth noting that with this facility, we really have a goal to package directly,” Hauck says. “This particular oven line is capable of producing 6,200 pounds of product per hour. It’s really important for our packaging to keep up so that we can package directly online and not have to produce WIP and then go back and repackage. With this installation we are in fact able to maintain the speeds that we can pack directly online.” PW


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End-of-line Automation for Aussie Winery Facing new competition in a fast-growing wine category, Domaine Chandon Australia upped its game with a wraparound case packer that is unusual in this beverage segment. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

How to square up cases

Improving case stacking quality

Part of the LVMH group, Domaine Chandon Australia (DCA) is a Down Under specialist in sparkling wine. Recently the firm installed Sidel end-of-line packaging systems aimed at improving the efficiency of its overall bottling operations. Highlights included the installation of a Cermex WB46 wraparound case packer including a partition inserter module and a complementary PalAccess palletizer. The result was an increase in the utilization rate of their manufacturing assets and improved case stacking quality on pallets, which in turn have led to improved downstream logistics. The sparkling wine segment currently accounts for 6.9% of the wine and cider market in Australia, and it’s expected to grow further over the next five years. New companies are expected to enter into this

Smooth handling of bottles and partitions is a hallmark of the Wrap-Around case packer (above). Consistently squared-up corrugated cases is one of the key benefits DCA experiences by relying on a wraparound style of case packer (left).

segment. So to stay competitive, large industry players like DCA will have to further adopt automation as part of their production routines. Sidel and DCA began working on this particular end-of-line project a few years ago, starting with a number of conceptual layouts based on

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the available floor space, the packaging design specifications, and DCA’s technical requirements for the equipment. Wraparound packing is not widely used in this industry, but the wine producer quickly identified the benefits of using this type of case versus the more commonly seen Regular Slotted Case (RSC) designs. “Chandon is a true pioneer in their use of this case format,” says Julien Claudin, Country Manager for Australia at Sidel. “Despite the challenges involved in coupling this case design with the integration of a partition inserter module within the same piece of equipment, we were very excited to be part of this journey.” The Cermex WB46 wraparound case packer is perfectly suited for handling a premium product like sparkling wine. The machine provides extremely smooth bottle handling, regardless of the bottle’s design or

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applied label type. All the contact points between the machine’s parts and the bottles are designed to maintain package integrity and to avoid marring of any kind—no matter whether it’s handling Special Editions decorated with sleeves or regular DCA bottles, which come with paper labels. The carefully designed picking head grabs and transfers six bottles at a time onto the automated partition inserter module that is built into the case packer unit. “We spent time verifying the proposed technical concepts to make sure that the bottles would be handled with extra care, minimizing the risks of damaging any part of the container, including hoods, labels, and sleeves,” adds Claudin. Afterwards the product collation is transferred into the wraparound blanks that are then fully enclosed around the bottles to provide a strong and perfectly squared case. The latter is fundamental to ensure proper palletization and successful downstream logistics.

Stackable cases “Our cases have an extremely squared shape and also stack very well on the pallet,” says Chris Fraser, Production Supervisor at DCA. “This means minimal impact on our quality during transportation.” Richard McCaughey, Operations Director at DCA, greatly prefers the new approach to the high level of manual handling that was relied on before. “We inserted case partitions by hand, palletized by hand, and forklifted between machines for stretch wrapping,” he adds. Coming out of the Cermex WB46, the cases are labelled and conveyed into the Sidel PalAccess palletizer. This piece of equipment is an-

DCA management greatly appreciates the fact that palletizing is now done automatically. other fully automated unit with tool-less changeovers, requiring neither a change of parts nor manual adjustments. Looking into the future, the HMI’s built-in PalDesigner software enables operators to design, simu-

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late, and load new pallet patterns without the need of additional programming or specific service intervention. The new operating panel’s interface also allows access to the machine’s technical documentation, One Point Lesson (OPL) sheets, and specific videos to assist with troubleshooting operations. “Throughout the whole process,” notes McCaughey, “the Sidel teams were very proactive and helped us analyze some of the most difficult challenges of the project, in particular the automated partition insertion into the cases. One of the doubts we initially had during this project was working with a supplier that has its roots in Europe. We were afraid that the local support they might have provided to an Australian customer was less than what we usually get from local players. But we see now that Sidel is able to combine local proximity with a global footprint. This is key if they want to increase their operations in our region.” Claudin confirms that expansion in the Australian and New Zealand markets is indeed a priority for Sidel. DCA’s end-of-line project has now been running successfully for more than one year, and the firm has been able to achieve higher efficiency levels while reaching their production targets in a growing business environment. —Pat Reynolds

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Transfer of PET bottles from blowing to filling to capping is all done by star wheels that grip bottle necks, so no bottle platforms are needed.

Vertical Integration Rules at Incobrasa From blow molding PET bottles to welding 4-L steel cans to injection molding of plugs that seal those cans, this edible oil producer is a big believer in self-manufacture. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

In-house can welding

Integrated blow/fill/cap

By Pat Reynolds, VP Editor Emeritus Incobrasa Industries Ltd. is a family-owned company that began in Brazil as a producer and processor of soybeans. The firm created a soybean processing plant in Gilman, Ill., that went into operation in 1997. The enormous site just off Interstate-57—smack dab in the middle of Illinois soybean country—now includes soybean crushing, an oil refinery, a biodiesel production plant, and a packaging facility for food-grade vegetable oil in three formats: steel cans, PET bottles, and HDPE bottles. The packaging facility shows an impressive level of vertical integration, as all cans and bottles except for HDPE bottles are made in-house before being filled. “We don’t have enough volume in HDPE to justify self-manufacture,” says Incobrasa Packaging Manager Mariano Moliner

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Ramirez. Here we’ll look at 4-L cans and 16- and 48-oz PET, since the manufacturing systems behind those formats are the ones most recently upgraded. The newest upgrade in PET packaging took place late last year. Previously the firm did not produce a 16-oz format, but for its 48-oz size it would injection mold its own preforms, blow bottles, store bottles in silos, and then unscramble bottles into a rotary filler that fed a rotary capper. This approach was greatly improved with the recent arrival of a Sincro Bloc blow/fill/cap system from SIPA. Included in a compact footprint is a preform hopper and infeed, an Xtra 6 six-cavity blow molder, a 30-valve Electronic W net-weigh filler, and a nine-head rotary capper

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Leading the Labeling Game

O I • • • • • •

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made by Arol. Both 16- and 48-oz bottles receive the same 33-mm injection molded PP closure from CSI. Also part of the package is an inspection system from FT System that checks to see that every cap is on correctly. Any bottle with a problematic cap is automatically rejected. “Key goals were to add the 16-oz format to our portfolio and to reduce the footprint of the equipment needed for the 16- and 48-oz sizes,” says Ramirez. “In the past, we’d put the 48-oz bottles that we blew into big silos each holding 100,000 bottles and then send bottles to an unscrambler that fed the filler. With this Sincro

Exiting the labeler, bottles pass through an ink-jet unit for printing of date code (left). The Xtra 6 takes care of blowing, filling, and capping of both 16- and 48-oz bottles yet occupies a relatively small amount of space (above).

Bloc blower/filler/capper in operation, we no longer store bottles and we no longer need a bottle unscrambler. It saves so much space.” Efficiency and speed are greatly improved, too. The 16-oz bottles are blown and filled at 15,000/hr and the 48-oz at 9,000/hr. And thanks to quick-release tooling on the Xtra 6 blow molder that eliminates the need for tools when changing from 16- to 48-oz bottles, it takes 45 seconds or less to change a blow mold. Installed along with the new blower/filler/capper block was one of SIPA’s Xform 300 injection molding machines to make the preforms for both 16- and 48-oz bottles. The injection molding cycle for the larger 38-g preform is 15 seconds, and it’s 14 seconds for the smaller 24-g preform. Ramirez says that from an installation perspective and from an ongoing machine maintenance perspective, the injection molding system is just another part of the broader SIPA portfolio. “It’s a singlesource aspect that we find very attractive,” he adds.

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Ramirez says that as preforms enter the blow molder, UV light eliminates bacteria and a deionizer eliminates dust that might be in the preform. He adds that the compact oven on the Xtra 6 blow molder is very economical from an energy consumption standpoint. According to SIPA, ceramic reflectors optimize the use of energy used in heating the preforms. Also adding a measure of energy efficiency is that the oven section has a laminar flow that keeps preforms at a constant and optimal temperature. All container transfers—from preform oven to blow molding tools to filling and right on through capping—are done by star wheels that use neck ring grippers. The absence of platforms on which bottles rest as they move from one station to the next helps keep changeover time to a minimum when switching back and forth from the 16- to the 48-oz bottle. As for labeling, a Krones Canmatic labeler that was retained from the previous operation was fully refurbished. It decorates each bottle with a glue-applied, full-wrap, paper label. Exiting the labeler is a newly installed ink-jet coder from Keyence that puts date code information on the shoulder of each bottle. The same downstream case packing, palletizing, and stretch wrapping systems were retained from the previous line.

4-L can operation That brings us to canning. The can-filling line in place, supplied primarily by OCME, is just three years old. As we’ll see in a minute, it’s highly automated and every bit as sophisticated as the PET bottle operation at Incobrasa. But just upstream from the can-filling line is in-house can welding. Operational now for two years, it represents the firm’s latest initiative in vertical integration.

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Sheets of decorated tinplate are pulled into a machine that slits them into six before welding each piece into a can body. “We used to buy our cans from an outside source,” says Ramirez. “But in the edible oil business, the profit margins are so thin that self-manufacture makes a lot of sense. Your margin is improved by 20 percent. And besides, just think about it. When you buy 18,000 4-L cans and have them shipped to your plant, you’re transporting an awful lot of air. We can make 18,000 cans here in three hours and put them directly into our warehouse.”

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He readily acknowledges that getting good at in-house can making is no slam dunk, particularly when it comes to getting the right personnel to operate the sophisticated if not downright complex machinery. But Ramirez has had the good fortune to work for many years in the container-making side of the packaging business at places like SIPA, Husky, and Sidel. This has helped make it possible for him to attract to Incobrasa’s central Illinois facility a solid crew of operators whom he has been able to train for the can-welding line. Soudronic is the principal supplier behind the can-welding operation. It begins with machinery that pulls sheets of decorated tinplate one at a time into a slitter so that six cans can be formed from each sheet. Exiting the Soudronic welding system, the welded steel can bodies enter a Bodypack machine from Sabatier, part of the Soudronic group. It creates a flange on top and bottom, creates the beading on the sidewall, seams on a bottom, and seams on a top. The top has a hole in the middle through which the oil is filled later in the process.

See video of Incobrasa’s bottling and canning operations at Next is a palletizer from CFT. Incorporating a Fanuc robot and a strapping system, it creates pallets holding 708 cans each. These are taken by forklift to storage that holds about 100 pallets. Pallets are pulled from storage when they’re needed on the filling line. The first machine on that filling line is an OCME depalletizer. It pulls one layer of cans off the top of the pallet and lowers them to a conveyor table. It also removes slip sheets that separate layers of cans. Then it single files cans for conveying into the OCME monoblock filler/plugger. The rotary net-weigh filling system has 36 filling heads while the rotary plugging machine has six. “We injection mold our own plugs from a PP/ HDPE copolymer,” notes Ramirez. Date code information is ink-jet printed on can bottoms by a Keyence unit mounted just downstream from the plugger. Filled cans are conveyed into an OCME wraparound case packer and another Keyence ink-jet unit puts date code information on each corrugated case. “I’ve standardized on Keyence largely because they are so easy to clean and maintain,” says Ramirez.

Filled and plugged, the 4-L cans exit the filler/plugger block and are conveyed to a wraparound case packer. The can line comes to an end with an OCME palletizer that features an integrated Fanuc robot followed by a stretch wrapper from Robopac. Can welding, notes Ramirez, is done at 80 cans/min, while filling is done at 100/min. He adds that the SIPA monoblock blow/fill/cap system runs 12-hr shifts five days a week while the can operation runs 12-hr shifts six days/week. PW

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By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley, PhD, Contributing Editor

E-Comm Package Storytelling There have been a lot of changes in our lives recently. For me it’s been working from home, minimizing trips to the store, teaching online while also homeschooling my kids, and wearing face masks. I knew it was impacting consumer goods and our industry, too, but it wasn’t until recently—one day while I was making my morning coffee—that I saw its impact on packaging. As I set the freshly ground beans to brewing, I immediately noticed that the packaging of my favorite brand of e-commerce coffee was different. Instead of a beautifully printed full-color pack, it was a stock white coffee pouch with adhesive labels applied to the front and back panels. The front label looked identical to the old packaging, yet it was miniaturized to fit on the sticker. I turned it around and noticed a short, upbeat, and positive message on the back that stated: 1. The packaging is different 2. It’s still the same product 3. They’ve temporarily closed their education centers, and 4. I’m invited to their virtual training (with a URL to visit)



I contemplated this in deep thought as I made my 41⁄2-second morning commute from the kitchen to my home office through a toystrewn living room. Without mentioning the supply chain disruptions that created the need for this temporary packaging “fixer,” they spun the design change positively, and I learned a little more about the brand I pay each month for coffee. I teach a course on human factors, studying psychological theories behind consumer interactions with packaging. One of the topics is storytelling—using words or pictures (sometimes both) to describe events that engage a consumer and create an emotional connection.

This subscription coffee company did a remarkable job leveraging all the attributes of a great story on a package: 1. Short (no more than seven words per line) 2. Acknowledged a shared dissonance 3. Provided a solution and value The brand had a choice: explain the change or explain what to do now. In choosing to explain what to do now, they strengthened brand equity and consumer confidence simultaneously. Unlike retail packaging, which benefits from consistent messaging and branding, e-commerce packages are first viewed after purchase. Each delivery could provide a new insight or character of the brand. Look to the coffee; take a page out of their book when telling your stories and addressing changes. Do what you can to assure your consumers that you’re still producing the same quality product the way you’ve always been. Provide a way for them to interact with you. Stay positive. Be upbeat. But most of all, keep it simple. PW

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is the founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School, and an Associate Professor at Clemson University. He can be reached at

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Companies ProMach expanded its liquid filling solutions capabilities with the acquisition of Fogg Filler. ePac Flexible Packaging announced an expansion in operations capacity by adding new manufacturing facilities in North America, expanding internationally, and adding printing and finishing equipment to existing operations. Glenroy Inc. announced new sustainability initiatives and added a dedicated web page with a focus on air emissions control, energy conservation, and recycling initiatives. ITW Hartness launched a newly designed website featuring an e-commerce platform, HartnessPARTS, designed for customers to order spare parts online. Epson Robots signed Olympus Controls as its distributor in the Western Regions of the U.S. and Canada.

People Russell Schlager was promoted to Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Liquid Filling Systems for The Massman Companies. He will lead the sales and marketing efforts of Ideal-Pak, Pase Group, and DTM. Berlin Packaging welcomes Bill Hayes as President and Chief Executive Officer. He will also serve on its Board of Directors. Jeane Schalm was promoted to Chief Executive Officer for InkJet, Inc. Cory Hypes was appointed Vice President and General Manager of Integrated Solutions for Duravant LLC. Brad Klimek joined the tissue sales team of Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC), part of Barry-Wehmiller, as Sales Engineer. Shane Govert joined Domino as Product Manager, Digital Printing North America. Christoph Michalski was appointed President and CEO of BillerudKorsnäs. Michael Van den Bossche was appointed Managing Director of Romaco Innojet. He will share management of the company with Bastian Käding. John Hirsch was promoted to Senior Manager, Business Development—Building & Construction/ Consumer for Spartech. Luis Sierra was appointed CEO of Nova Chemicals. Wouter Van Tol was appointed Head of Sustainability and Government Affairs for DS Smith. Jan Glass was named Chief Financial Officer for the Optima group.

Achievement NCC Automated Systems was awarded Top Workplaces 2020 by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In Memoriam John Bitner, global packaging expert and IoPP Past President, passed away May 14, 2020.

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Horizontal Flow Wrapper Formost Fuji introduces the CX II horizontal flow wrapper. By utilizing induction fin seal heaters, it saves energy with faster temperature response and higher accuracy.

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Hot Melt Dot Control The dot board—part of Baumer’s tesla hot melt product line—is integrated in the control cabinets of machine controllers, establishing a connection between the application heads and the PLCs in such a way that adhesive consumption is dramatically reduced.

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Recyclable Coffee Capsule System Optima developed GreenLution, a recyclable coffee capsule system featuring a single-material capsule with recyclable lid film and a compatible filling machine.

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Protective Packaging System Aptar Food + Beverage launches the SeaWell protective packaging system designed to maintain seafood freshness and visual appeal, absorb odors, and enhance safety by reducing overall bacteria count and mitigating cross-contamination.

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Twist-off Cap TwistGrip offers the TwistGrips cap, designed to provide consumers with an easier way to open any bottle/jar cap.


Updated Cap Sorter Fogg Filler updated the VSE cap sorter to better accommodate the sorting of larger caps and increase speeds by up to 60%.

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Continuous Ink-Jet Printer

Printable Metallized PET Film Nobelus launches Gilt Metalized, a PET thermalprintable laminate gold metallic film.

Videojet launches the 1280 continuous ink-jet printer featuring its printhead and fluid system technology, which can provide stable performance and reliability across a range of operating conditions, including variable volumes and production runs.

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Each of the following market-leading companies* participating in Packaging World’s 2020 Leaders in Packaging Program are named sponsors of PW’s Future Leaders in Packaging scholarship. This year’s recipient is the University of Florida Packaging Engineering Program. We appreciate the support of all participants on behalf of packaging education.

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86 PW SEP2020


Can Handle Applicator

Filling Systems for Distilled Spirits ProMach Filling Systems introduces Proof Perfect™ filling systems for distilled spirits. Systems can handle glass and PET bottles from 750 mL to 1.75 L.

ProMach Filling Systems

Roberts PolyPro, a ProMach product brand, introduces the ICHA180 in-line can handle applicator that applies Robert PolyPro’s HDPE handles to four- and six-packs of beverages in 12- and 16 oz-aluminum cans at speeds to 180 cans/min. Unit is ideal for the craft beer and distilled spirits market.

Roberts PolyPro

Stand-Up Pouch Avery Dennison’s stand-up pouch construction features print-ready facestocks with 3-mil sealant films. They can be printed and formed into premade pouches or pouched directly through form/ fill/seal lines.

Avery Dennison

Digital Connected Packaging for Milk, Juice

Direct Thermal Color Labels

Tetra Pak launches its connected packaging platform, which transforms milk and juice cartons into interactive information channels, full-scale data carriers, and digital tools.

Virtual Graphics

Virtual Graphics introduces RevealPrint on-demand direct thermal color labels designed to easily identify, with color, storage locations, or shipping requirements, to increase productivity while reducing errors.

Tetra Pak

Bulk Bag Filler Material Transfer’s bulk bag filler features a gain-in-weight scale and densification system. A food-grade inflatable spout seal assures a dust-tight seal to bag inlet.

Material Transfer

Palletizer Columbia Machine introduces the HL4200 high-level palletizer with Smart Diagnostics. It includes a biparting layer apron, centering side layer guides with Smart Squeeze, automatic hoist pins, and more.

Columbia Machine

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AD INDEX Search for additional information on any of the advertisers listed or visit their website directly ADVERTISER WEBSITE PAGE


Targeted Cover

Advanced Poly Packaging


AFM - American Film & Machinery


American Packaging Corporation Targeted Cover Automated Packaging Systems




Beckhoff Automation


Bell-Mark Sales Company

61, Targeted Cover

Blueprint Automation, Inc.


Columbia Machine, Inc.


Columbia/Okura LLC.




Econocorp Inc.


Eriez Magnetics


FlexLink Systems


Fortress Technology Inc.


GLUE DOTS International


Heat and Control, Inc.


Husky Injection Molding


ID Technology


ITW Hartness


Kaufman Engineered Systems Inc.


Krones, Inc. USA


Label-Aire, Inc.


Magnum Systems, Inc.


Mamata Enterprises, Inc.


Maple Systems


Material Transfer & Storage


Matthews Marking Systems


mk North America




Nuspark Inc.


Packaging World




Pepperl + Fuchs, Inc



PMI KYOTO Packaging Systems PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies

7 77, 81

Pregis Corporation


Regal Beloit Corporation


Robatech USA


Roberts PolyPro Inc.


Ryson International, Inc.


Schneider Packaging


Serac Inc.


Serpa Packaging Solutions


SEW Eurodrive, Inc.


Shibuya Hoppmann


Shurtape Technologies


SICK, Inc.


Signode Industrial Group




SKC Films, Inc.


Sleeve Seal


SMC Corporation of America


Squid Ink Manufacturing


Standard-Knapp, Inc.




Syntegon Technology GmbH


Thermo Scientific


U.S. Tsubaki, Inc.




Universal Labeling Systems, Inc.


Van der Graaf Weber Packaging Solutions WestRock

Targeted Cover 27 13, 15, 17, IBC

Yamato Corporation


Yaskawa America Inc.


YUPO Corp.


Connect with a Leaders in Packaging supplier and support packaging education!

Adindex_Sept.indd 87

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88 PW SEP2020


By Rebecca Lane Oesterle, CPPL

Road to a Successful Package Consumer packaged goods often are purchased because they catch attention, the item was on a shopping list, or perhaps, out of habit or familiarity. However, more often than we may realize, a well-designed package can be a deciding factor in product selection. This article focuses on the package development process, starting with the decision to produce the new package and ending with the transition to the manufacturing implementation team. The steps— they’re not necessarily sequential—in the package development process are: • Idea formation and concept brainstorming • 3D drawings and prototypes • Patent/trademark discovery • Cost estimation • Research (optional) • Go/no-go decision • Team selection and project kick off

Idea formation and concept brainstorming Ideas can be formed in many ways, including out of a perceived need in the marketplace, at a customer’s request, or to promote a specific initiative. In any event, a central point of contact should be responsible for reviewing the ideas. Often, it is helpful to look at existing package formats available in other categories or what the competition is doing. A brainstorming session can be developed with assistance from consultants. Some organizations develop this expertise within their packaging development departments. One essential participant is a graphic artist or someone who can quickly turn ideas into sketches. Regardless of how organizations proceed, there are a couple of good techniques that can be helpful. The first is to spend time shopping for packaged goods. Another good technique is SCAMPER: Substitute, Combine, Adjust/Adapt, Modify, Put to other use, Eliminate, and Reverse or Re-arrange. The acronym SCAMPER is a basic creativity-, thought-manipulation tool that helps participants look at things from a different perspective.

3D drawings and prototypes Once the idea is formed, the next step is determining how to develop the concept and move forward. Three-dimensional drawings and prototypes, using a 3D modeling software program, can help to further refine ideas. Next, 3D drawings can be created with the potential package designs and graphics can be applied to the structure utilizing computer software to further refine the concepts. Once the concepts have been refined, it is helpful to have 3D prototypes developed.

Patent/trademark discovery During the brainstorming and prototyping phase, good documentation is essential to protect intellectual property. All drawings should be dated with all “inventors” listed. After concepts are finalized and prototypes are developed, it’s time to research for prior patents or trademarks. Organizations need to protect homegrown ideas, as well as research concepts, from infringements. If there is no risk of patent infringement, packaging development should consider if any concepts are worthy of patent application.

Cost estimation Cost estimation efforts should include the cost of producing the package on a daily basis, as well as upfront costs for equipment, tooling, or artwork. To determine comprehensive package production costs, organizations need to determine the cost of direct materials, direct labor, variable costs and fixed costs. Specific considerations include direct material, direct labor, and fixed costs. Upfront costs include those required to get the package into production: new equipment and tooling if required, new tooling for existing equipment, and any artwork charges.

Research & a go/no-go decision Depending on the packaging project, research might be warranted. Research can be qualitative or quantitative. Focus groups and in-context observations are examples of qualitative research. Quantitative research generally costs more money to conduct. Therefore, qualitative research can further refine concepts. Once refined, concepts are narrowed down to a few ideas, then quantitative research can be conducted. At some point, generally after cost estimation and research (if conducted), a decision is needed on whether to proceed with the new packages. Assuming it’s a ‘go’ to proceed, packaging development can take from several weeks to several years, depending on the project scope.

Team selection and project kick-off Depending on which category the packaging project falls into, team size and make-up will be different. First, identify the project sponsor and project leader. The sponsor should scope out the work to be completed, identifying the objective of the packaging project, any project boundaries, and project deliverables. These process steps can be done in conjunction with the leader. The sponsor and leader should then identify and secure the necessary team members and resources. Once commitment has been reached on team members, a project kick-off meeting should be conducted. To get a new package on the shelf, the package development process needs to be well-defined and followed. The steps outlined here will ensure that implementation teams have a good chance of successfully launching a new package. PW

The author, Rebecca Lane Oesterle, CPPL, is Chair of the IoPP Board of Directors. For further details and additional reading on this topic, go to Want to learn more about IoPP? Go to

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Visit our virtual showroom at PACK EXPO Connects November 9-13, 2020

IMPROVE EFFICIENCY WITH INTEGRATED END-OF-LINE SOLUTIONS. Introducing the CP eMerge® Combo, WestRock’s newest automation technology for frozen food bowls that combines sustainable secondary and tertiary packaging into one system. The single-operator, end-of-line solution manages multiple SKUs and minimizes downtime by allowing for quick changeover between a range of bowls and trays. The integrated combo design is uniquely suitable for those with footprint constraints. CP eMerge® Combo

Complexity, simplified. ©2020 WestRock Company. All rights reserved.

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