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Food Trend

Brand Packaging Design Must Evolve for eCommerce

Best ecommerce packaging, ecommerce packaging solutions

eCommerce is changing the way brands sell their products, pushing companies to reassess what defines the most effective packaging design. To incentivize purchase, CPG and food/beverage brands must adapt packaging design to reflect the reality of how people shop both online and off. Changes, such as larger digital hero images (i.e., Unilever’s TRESemmé shampoo hero adapted for Amazon ordering) and a rejiggering of how package sizing is displayed on-pack, respond to how consumers shop online. New packaging shapes and materials are adaptations to ensure consumers receive a whole product, minus any spills or crushed bits, when shipped to homes. For example, P&G is pioneering a new box for its Tide Liquid Detergent.

Brand Packaging Design Bridges Offline and Online

When considering new eCommerce packaging solutions, it’s worth looking at the trends in the new retail landscape. Nearly half of all Americans purchase groceries online, doubling from 23% in just over a year. But only 2.5% of food and beverage sales is expected be online in 2019. Perhaps recognizing this disconnect, Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017 and is pushing to open cashier-less Go convenience stores to capture the other 98% of grocery sales, IRL. The best brand packaging design must seamlessly bridge sales where they are occurring, whether online or offline.

The Best eCommerce Packaging

CPG and food and beverage brands should continue to cultivate relationships with consumers when considering their packaging designs. Heidi Reale, president of the marketing and communications firm SparkShoppe!, recommends products make an emotional connection with the consumer. “The price elasticity of demand doesn’t play in if you can create an emotional connection with the people you do business with, your customers. So if you can create that emotional connection, it’s worth a lot more than trying to get to the bottom of the barrel with price,” Reale said in an interview with storebrands.com.

Poultry Brands Heed the Call

Poultry brands have heard the call, taking action on-pack and with new pack design to create an improved customer experience. The UK’s Sainsbury leads the re-design charge, developing a doypack (a sealed plastic bag designed to stand upright) into which raw chicken is packaged. The no-drip pack zips open and the poultry slips directly into the pan without human contact, a plus for many consumers.

Foster Farms redesigned their on-pack messaging for Fresh and Natural, Simply Raised and Organic lines to include “DORI,” a scannable QR code virtual assistant loaded with recipes, exclusive coupons, and labeling terms and descriptions.

JustBARE, a brand under the Pilgrim’s umbrella, includes an on-pack traceability code unique to each package. Consumers are guided to the website to enter the code and discover where and how the poultry in their package was raised.

Our Perspective

Here are four key considerations for brands when designing packaging for the hybrid eCommerce/bricks-and-mortar retail environment:

  1. Your brand’s impact extends beyond the point of purchase

The impact of packaging doesn’t end when shoppers add the product to their digital or real shopping carts. The product lives in their homes for a few days or a few weeks, and smartly designed packaging can continue to help the brand forge an emotional connection for the duration of that lifetime. To thrive in this divided world of shopping, your brand must earn a seat at the table. The relationship doesn’t end at the shopping cart.

  1. Packaging is a gateway for consumers

Your brand’s packaging can provide a gateway for consumers to learn more about your product and brand. Are you delivering information about ingredient sourcing, sustainability and the supply chain? Recipes? Nutrition? Social purpose? Make your package smarter and more integrated to move your customer from package to web or social.

  1. Go beyond the trash

As the social and environmental impacts of waste move closer to the center of consumers’ value perception, can your packaging be designed to serve another function? Does your consumer value a reusable or upcycled package?

  1. The power of touch

Including a bit of whimsy or humor or other brand-specific touches can engage a potential customer for a moment or a lifetime. New packaging materials and finishes can add a tactile component to offline shopping that is often overlooked when designing for eCommerce.

As consumer perceptions and needs change, grocery shopping is shifting to include both online and offline in a different way than just a year or two ago. Brands must consider on-pack messaging and design and new packaging materials to prime the product for purchase. Your customer will not always order online. It can look great online but it has to also perform on-shelf and at home.

To discuss how to optimize your brand for success online and at retail, contact Peter Allen at [email protected].

 

 

 

From Forest to Table: New Packaging from Innovative Companies

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but innovative companies are turning one man’s trash into another man’s … food packaging

With the dangers of global warming threatening to jeopardize our very existence, more and more consumers are becoming environmentally aware. We recycle, we compost, and we pay attention to the packaging on our purchases (this means no more Styrofoam take-out containers and avoiding plastic straws at your local bar). Some innovative companies recognize this demand for new ways to approach packaging and are working on turning food waste into new forms of food packaging.

Innovative Companies say Buh-bye to Plastic Packaging

Forget plastics. Non-recyclable, non-biodegradable products not only pollute our environment, they also potentially contaminate foods with harmful chemicals and even fail to keep your food adequately fresh. The newest solution? Food packaging made from natural materials like mushrooms, milk proteins, wood, kelp, and tomato peels. Not only are these products biodegradable, waste eliminators, and better for the environment, but they’re oftentimes edible. Really! Here are a few not quite market-ready concepts we have our eye on.

Wood-Based Bottles

In an attempt to reduce waste, Nestlé Waters and Danone have launched a joint product in alliance with a California startup, Origin Materials, to develop 100% bio-based bottles. Made from sustainable and renewable resources, these bottles will take biomass feed stocks (like recycled cardboard and sawdust) to create an entirely new product. These wood-based bottles are scheduled to hit store shelves in 2020.

Milk-Protein Packaging

Did your mother always tell you to drink your milk? Well now you can package your food with it, too, with edible milk-based packaging that reduces food spoilage and waste. This biodegradable, sustainable, and super-thin packaging will make the regular thin plastic film that wraps your cheese and meats obsolete. The US Department of Agriculture, whose team of researchers pioneered the technology, discovered that casein, also known as the protein in dairy milk, can be used to create edible packaging that actually protects your food better than plastic. The proteins work to form a tight network around the food, sealing it 500 times better than plastic.

Mushroom Material

Your favorite fungi are being turned into eco-friendly containers for wine bottles and furniture as well as products like coolers. Ecovative Design developed Mushroom Packaging to reduce waste and replace polystyrene in packaging materials. This product could theoretically replace Styrofoam across the globe. Ikea has already planned to replace their usual polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s biodegradable mushroom roots. They’ve also licensed their packaging technology to Sealed Air, a $7.6 billion packaging company that makes Bubble Wrap.

Tomato Tin Cans

When you crack open a can of olives or dig into your favorite canned soup on a rainy day, you’ll usually find the packaging coated with chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol-A). While the levels found inside your cans are low enough to purportedly pose no threat to your health, more customers are looking for chemical-free, and thus BPA-free, packaging. The solution? To replace the chemical lacquer with natural ingredients, like processed tomatoes. BIOCOPAC is taking the skins from tomatoes and using them to treat metal food cans. So, the next time you pop open a can of tomatoes for your evening pasta sauce, you might be consuming more tomatoes than you think.

Seaweed Saran

Unlike other recyclable materials like glass and metal, plastic wrap cannot be recycled. So it’s more important than ever to cut down on our use of harmful plastic when packaging our foods. Japanese design company, AMAM, has developed Agar Plasticity to replace our usual Saran wrap. Made from agar, a material found in red marine algae, Agar Plasticity could soon replace the environmentally harmful but very thin and flexible plastics we’re currently using to wrap food. Even if the Agar Plasticity ends up in the ocean after you’ve finished your sandwich, it’ll just be heading right back home. Now that’s a product life cycle we can get behind!

Paper Water Bottle

Paper Water Bottle is purported to be the 1st of its kind in the world. the technology behind the Paper Water Bottle Technology is based on 16 global patents. Production began in December 2017.

·       An eco-friendly, direct replacement for plastic water/beverage bottles on the market today

·       Shell made of 100% compostable pulp

·       Barrier made with 100% recycled resin

·       Twist-off cap secures content with its Pulp Gripper™ technology

·       Can be customized to fit a brand’s needs through design and graphic communications

·       500ml Natural stock bottle

The Smoothie: Protein in its Simplest Form

With the increase of weight-training phenomenons like Crossfit and powerlifting, protein and protein powders are getting a huge surge in the world of nutrition. From nuts to pea protein, plant-based protein powders are crowding the shelves of local health food stores and making their way into smoothies across the globe. But what are all these new protein ingredients and where on earth do they come from? Is one protein source better than another? Let’s take a look at the best plant-based protein powder – and some animal protein powder sources – to learn each powder works.

Working with Whey

After milk has been curdled and strained, a thick liquid remains created as a byproduct of cheese production. Whey, as this liquid is commonly called, is then separated from the fat and processed for consumption. Whey protein is arguably one of the best sources of protein available because it contains a large range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly. Whey protein is proven to help you increase strength, gain muscle, and lose fat. The only problem? Vegans and those allergic to milk need to look elsewhere for their protein supplements.

Boosted with Bone Broth

True, it’s not a plant-based protein, but these days, it seems like bone broth is the magic cure-all. Whether you think it’s ridiculous to shell out upwards of $15 on glorified chicken broth or you’ve hopped on the bone broth bandwagon, the fact is that companies and consumers worldwide are gobbling the stuff up. Take Ancient Nutrition’s Bone Broth Protein. This protein supplement delivers the benefits of homemade bone broth and supports joints, skin, muscles, and digestion. Plus, it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly, so it’s suitable for all non-vegan gym buffs. The company eschews chemicals and new-fangled supplements in favor of traditions and nutritional principles that have been tried and tested throughout history.

Pick Pea

Pea protein is the perfect option. Plant-based eaters can add this veggie protein powder to their diets without the unwanted side effects that usually come along with protein powders like bloating and allergies. Pea protein is a “complete protein,” made by drying and grinding peas and legumes into a fine flour and removing the fiber and starch. This leaves you with mostly protein with vitamins and minerals. For a taste of plant-based protein, try Purely Inspired organic protein shake that boasts a whopping 20 grams of pea-tastic protein.

Go Nuts for Nuts

Another plant-based protein that’s lining the shelves is nut-based protein powders. Nut enthusiasts (and the non-allergic) will go nuts for peanut and Brazil nut-based powders. Nuts and nut-butters typically contain a large amount of fat and calories, but turning them into powders removes some of the bad-for-you elements. Take Raw Power’s Brazil Nut Protein Powder that boasts raw, organic, and vegan protein. It delivers the nutrients of Brazil Nuts without the fat calories. PB fit’s peanut butter powder is also a great way to add protein to your smoothies with 90% less fat and ⅓ of the calories of a scoop of peanut butter.

Whatever you decide is best for your body and your diet, these natural protein powders are a great way to bolster your diet and consume some post-workout recovery fuel. Bump your smoothies up to the next level with one of these good-for-your-body protein powders.

And the Best Plant Based Protein Powder Is…

For it’s appeal to the broadest swath of humans and mostly non-allergenic qualities, we choose pea protein as the best plant-based protein powder.

From Forest to Table: New Packaging from Innovative Companies

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but innovative companies are turning one man’s trash into another man’s … food packaging?

With the dangers of global warming threatening to jeopardize our very existence, more and more consumers are becoming environmentally aware. We recycle, we compost, and we pay attention to the packaging on our purchases (this means no more Styrofoam take-out containers and avoiding plastic straws at your local bar). Some innovative companies recognize this demand for new ways to approach packaging and are working on turning food waste into new forms of food packaging.

Innovative Companies say Buh-bye to Plastic Packaging

Forget plastics. Non-recyclable, non-biodegradable products not only pollute our environment, they also potentially contaminate foods with harmful chemicals and even fail to keep your food adequately fresh. The newest solution? Food packaging made from natural materials like mushrooms, milk proteins, wood, kelp, and tomato peels. Not only are these products biodegradable, waste eliminators, and better for the environment, but they’re oftentimes edible. Really! Here are a few not quite market-ready concepts we have our eye on.

Wood-Based Bottles

In an attempt to reduce waste, Nestlé Waters and Danone have launched a joint product in alliance with a California startup, Origin Materials, to develop 100% bio-based bottles. Made from sustainable and renewable resources, these bottles will take biomass feed stocks (like recycled cardboard and sawdust) to create an entirely new product. These wood-based bottles are scheduled to hit store shelves in 2020.

Milk-Protein Packaging

Did your mother always tell you to drink your milk? Well now you can package your food with it, too, with edible milk-based packaging that reduces food spoilage and waste. This biodegradable, sustainable, and super-thin packaging will make the regular thin plastic film that wraps your cheese and meats obsolete. The US Department of Agriculture, whose team of researchers pioneered the technology, discovered that casein, also known as the protein in dairy milk, can be used to create edible packaging that actually protects your food better than plastic. The proteins work to form a tight network around the food, sealing it 500 times better than plastic.

Mushroom Material

Your favorite fungi are being turned into eco-friendly containers for wine bottles and furniture as well as products like coolers. Ecovative Design developed Mushroom Packaging to reduce waste and replace polystyrene in packaging materials. This product could theoretically replace Styrofoam across the globe. Ikea has already planned to replace their usual polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s biodegradable mushroom roots. They’ve also licensed their packaging technology to Sealed Air, a $7.6 billion packaging company that makes Bubble Wrap.

Tomato Tin Cans

When you crack open a can of olives or dig into your favorite canned soup on a rainy day, you’ll usually find the packaging coated with chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol-A). While the levels found inside your cans are low enough to purportedly pose no threat to your health, more customers are looking for chemical-free, and thus BPA-free, packaging. The solution? To replace the chemical lacquer with natural ingredients, like processed tomatoes. BIOCOPAC is taking the skins from tomatoes and using them to treat metal food cans. So, the next time you pop open a can of tomatoes for your evening pasta sauce, you might be consuming more tomatoes than you think.

Seaweed Saran

Unlike other recyclable materials like glass and metal, plastic wrap cannot be recycled. So it’s more important than ever to cut down on our use of harmful plastic when packaging our foods. Japanese design company, AMAM, has developed Agar Plasticity to replace our usual Saran wrap. Made from agar, a material found in red marine algae, Agar Plasticity could soon replace the environmentally harmful but very thin and flexible plastics we’re currently using to wrap food. Even if the Agar Plasticity ends up in the ocean after you’ve finished your sandwich, it’ll just be heading right back home. Now that’s a product life cycle we can get behind!

 

Snack Bags Get a Punch of Protein

When you think about chips, the last thing that comes to mind is probably “healthy snacks” or “foods with protein” — but some health food manufacturers are transforming your favorite guilty pleasure into a new source of foods with protein. Punch up your snack game with these high protein, health conscious chips in a range of crave-worthy flavors. These various protein chips have revolutionized snack food, offering a preferable alternative to nutritionally void, processed munchies.

Skip Chips with Fat and Carbs

Your standard serving of chips — take Lay’s potato chips — packs in 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs, and a mere 2 grams of protein. They’re an indulgence that should be reserved for rare occasions. Now take Quest Protein Chips — a snack that boasts 20 grams of protein instead of empty carbs. With flavors like sour cream and onion, cheddar and sour cream, sea salt, salt and vinegar, and BBQ, you can enjoy your favorite snack without all the guilt. With 130 calories per bag and just 4 grams of fat and 3 grams of net carbs, these macronutrient ratios can be a part of any diet. So how do they construct a chip with such remarkable stats? The first ingredient in Quest chips is a protein blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate — the very same blend found in their signature bars. After that, all you’ll find is sunflower oil, dried potatoes, corn starch, psyllium husk, and natural flavors.

Protein in Unlikely Places

And other companies are getting in on the protein chip game. Plocky’s has been satisfying consumers since 1988 with savory snacks made from the finest ingredients with no preservatives. Their PrOTATO Crisps in original flavor with Himalayan pink salt, spicy honey BBQ, and peppercorn ranch are made from simple (and pronounceable) ingredients. You’ll find dehydrated potato, rice protein, modified corn starch, sunflower oil, sugar, soy lecithin, and leavening in these healthful snacks. One serving contains 120 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein — less protein than Quest chips, but equally sin-free.

SimplyProtein offers crunchy, low carb snacks that’ll keep you fueled and feeling light. SimplyProtein Chips are made with real ingredients and packed with 15 grams of pea protein. The modest ingredient list includes pea protein isolate, dehydrated potato flakes, potato starch, salt, calcium carbonate, organic canola oil, and natural seasonings. In one bag, you’ll find just 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 30% of your daily iron intake. These plant based, gluten-free chips are non-GMO and the perfect guilt-free snack.

And clocking in at the lowest calories per serving, Our Little Rebellion’s Protein Crisps are only 90 calories per serving. Flavors like BBQ, buffalo, and wasabi ginger add spice to the potato chip game. You’ll be receiving a mere 2.5 grams of fat and 10 grams of plant-based proteins without the GMOs, preservatives, and gluten that you’ll find in many chips.

Foods with Protein

So what’s the drawback? While these chips offer a much preferable alternative to your standard snack bag, they’re still processed food. No, you can’t nibble on these chips post-workout and expect a nutritional powerhouse. You’re still much better off with a couple of hard boiled eggs, some cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, or a banana with nut butter. But even though you won’t want to add these chips into your everyday diet, they’re still a much better alternative to your typical greasy snack food.

 

Witness Food’s Future at Expo East

I spent three days last week at the Baltimore Convention Center, surveying the consumer packaged goods industry’s best food packaging while nibbling, noshing, slugging down shots of coffee, kombucha and everything in-between, and figuring out the near future of what will soon be on your office desk. Your food future looks bright.

Themes

As we’ve seen all year, the big shift across categories is a movement towards portion-sized packaging. Sometimes called meal replacements, snacks are getting bigger. Layered on top of this snack and snack-sharing trend is the trend of adding nutrition ingredients, a.k.a. neutraceuticals – protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals – to bars, rice cakes, and bite-size, gluten-free balls. More companies are going after nutritional and environmental benefits (grass-fed beef and by-products of beef, GMO-certification, and organic everything was the norm). And fermented foods aren’t going anywhere.

Here’s what inspired me at Expo East 2017,

Customized Drink Formats

The coolest new packaging trend in drinks is a push-top canister on water bottles. That is, push down on the cap to release the ingredients stored there, then shake your newly infused water with goodies. Caps, filled with ceremonial grade matcha in Buddha Tea’s Matcha Now or with probiotics in Karma Wellness Water’s Probiotics line, turn water into something more flavorful and healthful. And the separate storage does not compromise the integrity of the ingredients. Sweet!

New Super Berries

Açaí is so…2016. The berries you need to know about now come from Korea and Finland, not the Amazon. OmiBerry, known in Korea as Omija, or five flavor berry, delivers sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter flavors. Also known as Schisandra Chinesis, it arrives Stateside from Hyojongwon Corp. in Omiberry Tea, Omiberry Sparkling, and Omiberry Berry Syrup. Very slurpable and nutrient-dense.

The New Nordic movement that has swept the restaurant world is now coming to packaged goods. Berries native to northern Europe, such as sea buckthorn, cloudberry, and bilberry, pack in the anthocyanins (they slow down free radicals) and put açaí’s nutrient profile to shame. Roberts Berrie from Finland showcased portion-sized cups full of berries that you can drink, some with added fiber and protein.

Vegan Cheese

Perhaps the single best thing I tasted at the show was the Mozzarisella from Italy’s Plant Based Foods. Made from sprouted brown rice, this cheese contains no dairy by-products (whey or casein), has a pliant texture akin to mozzarella di bufala, and melts beautifully on the tongue. Follow Your Heart also showcased their new line of six sliced vegan cheeses. Pepperjack Style Slices and Smoked Gouda Style Slices are as flavorful as they are clean – no soy here! Reformulated so it no longer sticks to your teeth, Daiya’s cheeses and cheese pizza are even better than before.

New Hummus and Tahini

The Mediterranean foods trend shows no sign of slowing and regional favorite ingredients continue to show up in new products. Ithaca Cold-Crafted never heats their chickpeas, treating them instead to a cold-pressed process which keeps their hummus’s flavor fresh. Yes, you really can taste fresh in packaged hummus, especially the Lemon Garlic. Though they would not reveal what makes their tahini taste so fresh, Al Arz Tahini sang with pure, bright sesame flavor.

Algae

Consumers are waking up to the micronutrient benefits of seaweed. Ocean’s Balance Kelp Purée is designed to be stirred into soups, smoothies or wherever you need to boost calcium and folate levels. And GimMe Snacks Seaweed Thins, roasted almond or coconut slivers sandwiched between two seaweed sheets, were addictively crunchy and easy to eat.

And, File under Fan Favorite

Raised in New Jersey, I am a huge fan of the amazing local produce that continues to thrive in quieter corners of the Garden State. The Jersey Tomato Co. works with farms in  Vineland and Swedesboro to grown an heirloom varietal suited to the local climate for their line of flavorful, no added sweetener sauces. Marinara is a classic but the Hot Salsa is more novel. Either way, it’s all Jersey delicious.

This is just a snapshot of what I tasted.  As I gaze into my crystal ball, I predict you will also be seeing more variations on gluten-free pasta (konjac noodles, anyone?) a spike in Asian flavors (lots of Japanese cherry blossom and Thai coconut plus those omija berries), ghee replacing butter as a paleo and fat coffee mainstay, and more dairy-free and paleo desserts than you can shake a stick at (dairy-free mochi is here to stay).

Enjoy!

Love catching up on food trends? Here’s what we loved at San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show earlier this year.

 

Vegetables’ Collapsing Supply Chain

The farm-to-table movement has taken the country by storm — and it’s even more accessible than a six-course feast at a Michelin starred restaurant. Supporting local farms has become mainstream, encouraging consumers to shop at farmers markets and buy locally. New agriculture companies are even bringing farms closer to the population, so you can find family farms in your backyard. Innovative companies are engineering and building farms closer to population centers, so you can have super fresh produce that’s just a short drive from your supermarket. That means that you can buy affordable, organic, non-GMO, heritage veggies that remind us what our planet is really meant for – supporting life.

Better for the Environment

The local food movement is growing, and that’s in part because buying local produce is better for the environment. More and more Americans want to know where their food comes from. They shop at local farmers markets and subscribe to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Locavores are taking over and the local food movement shows no signs of slowing down.

Buying organic from your local farmers market is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. Transporting food requires the use of trucks, boats, and planes. These transportation vehicles burn fossil fuels and emit CO2, contributing to global warming. Local, organic farms don’t rely on synthetic or petroleum-based pesticides or fertilizers, use less water and contribute significantly less soil contamination from runoff.Local farms also help collapse the supply chain by shipping their products shorter distances, often 100 miles or less.

Fresh Vegetables Near Me

Farmers markets make shopping locally easier than ever. At these communal spaces, local farmers gather to sell their farm products directly to consumer. This cuts overhead costs and creates a community around agriculture. To get local produce straight to your home, consider signing up for Community Supported Agriculture programs. At these direct-to-consumer programs, a customer buys a share of a local farm’s harvest. You’ll then either pick up your CSA box filled with local produce at a communal location or it will be delivered straight to your door. Other direct to consumer programs make eating locally simple, like pick-your-own farms, on-site farm stands, and gleaning programs, where consumers harvest crops that are left in fields after harvest.

Family Farms Near Me? Not Exactly …

Even in areas where farmland is hard to come by, we’re finding new models for farming that make it possible to grow produce in densely populated cities.If you live in a densely populated city, it might be harder to find local farms. But new companies are changing the way we farm, making it easier to enjoy fresh produce without the mileage. How are they bringing farms to cities? By utilizing indoor farming techniques. Plenty, a San Francisco startup, has built an indoor, urban farm in a warehouse using 20-foot towers filled with fresh kale, herbs, and veggies. Aerofarms is doing the same thing across the country in Newark, New Jersey. A 70,000-square-foot former steel factory is the setting for their urban farm. They produce about two-million pounds of baby greens annually without sunlight, soil, or pesticides. These vertical farms grow crops in cities with all the benefits of local farming without the negative consequences.  

Bugging Out – Will You Eat Insects?

What if we told you that manufacturers are processing crickets, meal worms, and locusts into flours to boost a product’s protein levels? Unsurprisingly, most people in the western world are reluctant to add a scoop of cricket protein powder to their morning shake or pop a couple chocolate covered ants as an after dinner treat. But insects are actually nutritious, sustainable, protein dense, and high in easy to absorb vitamins and minerals.Interested yet?

How about this: a massive 2013 report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations encouraged consumption of edible insects as a global food source because of their many health benefits. It’s time to jump on the creepy crawly bandwagon and embrace entomophagy, the practice of eating insects.

Crunch on Crickets

Companies like CRIK Nutrition, Entomo Farms, Exo Protein, and Chapul are revolutionizing the cricket industry with products like cricket protein powder, protein bars, and flour. You can even munch on cricket cookies from Bitty Foods and chocolate or candy coated worms from Hotlix. Plus, more and more Oaxacan restaurants are popularizing the Mexican snack chapulines — fried grasshoppers that are usually coated in lime and spices. Now will you eat bugs?

Well, for one: we already are. Bugs are practically impossible to keep out of your foods, and you’re already consuming far more than you’d imagine. For instance: one cup of rice contains up to three whole insects; the ground coffee used to make one cup of coffee contains up to 60 bug parts; and the tomato sauce used in one regular pizza contains up to 30 fly eggs or two whole maggots. Many coatings used in the manufacture of candy are made from bug parts, too. But instead of being grossed out by this, we should embrace it.

Nutritionally Dense Cricket Protein Powder

For over two billion people in the world, insects make up their main source of protein. They are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, with over twice as much protein as beef, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and more omegas and B12 vitamins than wild salmon. Plus, they boast high levels of zinc, magnesium, and B6, and are loaded with amino acids.It’s practically the perfect food for humans and planet! Are those two billion people paleo? Likely they just know an affordable protein source when they see one.

Easy to Grow & Sustainable

Growing crickets requires less resources than traditional livestock. Cattle farms are notoriously horrendous for the environment, but cricket farms require 2,000 times less land and water, grow 13 times faster, produce 100 times less greenhouse gasses, and consume 12 times less feed.Sweet!

More Ethical

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of cattle farming and let’s not get started on the waste and by-products cattle and other animals produce, but let’s just say it ain’t pretty. Crickets, however, naturally cluster on their own, so you don’t have to force them into tight quarters. And none of the insects are going to waste. Traditionally, we only consume about 40 percent of the cows we raise for livestock, but the entire cricket is dried and ground up, so you’re not squandering any of the product.

So What’s the Hold Up?

Most people are, quite frankly, irked by the thought of eating insects and associate it with disease and filth. But insects can be a part of a healthy and happy diet. Lobster and shrimp, for example, were once shunned as dirty, but are now considered delicacies. And high-end restaurants are already starting to serve insects on their menus. It’s only a matter of time until westerners realize that bugs are the latest superfood and here to stay.

 

Burgers: A Revolution in Plant-based Protein

plant based burgers

There are few things more satisfying than biting into a juicy, bloody burger — but what if said burger was made from plant-based protein instead of ground beef? A new revolution in vegan protein has begun, and it’s all about the burger. These plant-based proteins “bleed” and resemble actual beef more than any vegan products before. But why are we calling them “meat?” And why would someone who has eschewed eating meat want a product that so closely resembles the thing they’re trying to avoid?

Why Choose Plant based Protein?

Some health-conscious consumers have removed meat from their daily intake for purely dietary reasons. For them, these imitator products are welcomed with a fervor. Products like Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger so closely approximate a beef patty that herbivores can indulge in the very things they’ve had to give up. High cholesterol? Sink your teeth into a juicy Impossible Burger and you’ll barely know the difference. Suffering from an illness that benefits from a plant-based diet? Grill up a Beyond Burger when a meat craving strikes and feel satiated without the side effects.

But should those who have chosen the vegan lifestyle and do so for political reasons be seeking a product that acts like meat? Vegan protein in the form of beans is great — but a burger that “bleeds” seems like it’s copying a product that animal activist’s should be steering clear of. These burgers mimic the very thing that some vegans are adamantly opposed to — so is it better to stick to quinoa bowls and cauliflower cutlets than to attempt to consume a product that resembles all that they are opposed to?

Vegan Protein is the Food Revolution

Health issues aside, the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger are revolutionizing the way we eat. It’s no secret that the meat industry is bad for the environment. Raising livestock for consumption requires a staggering amount of land, food, energy, and water and produces a significant amount of our greenhouse-gas emissions. And red meat is even worse. Beef and lamb are responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as most vegetables and grains, according to Scientific American.

So a burger that approximates meat without the detrimental side effects should be welcome on any restaurant’s menu and on the shelves of every grocery store. Take the Impossible Burger. Scientists, farmers, and chefs collaborated for five years to recreate the perfect beef burger without harming a single cow. By shunning cows in favor of all-natural ingredients like wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes, the Impossible Burger uses a fraction of the Earth’s natural resources. “Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients,” according to Impossible Foods’ website. And the secret ingredient that makes the Impossible Burger stand out from its plant-based peers is a little things called heme. Heme, an iron-containing compound, makes meat smell, sizzle, bleed, and is the “magic ingredient” that makes this burger stand up to its carnivorous competition.

Impossible Burgers can be found at several restaurants around the country, but if you’re hankering for a home-cooked patty, look no further than the Beyond Burger. This revolutionary burger was the first plant-based product that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef without the harmful repercussions, and at a fraction of the price of the Impossible Burger. This patty is made primarily from pea protein, with a “bleeding” element from beet juice.

So how do you feel about lab-made, realistic vegetarian burgers? Would you go veg for them or not?

Rebranding Helps Tahoe Trail Bar Increase Visibility

A recent story published on packagingstrategies.com focused on our branded packaging design work with Tahoe Trail Bars. We are thrilled to share their success!

 

Tahoe Trail Bars rebranded in time for summer outings

When current owner & CEO Wes King bought the recipe for the single flavor and rights to make the product in 2010, the nutrition, health & wellness category was growing exponentially. He realized it was time to get Tahoe Trail Bar introduced to a wider audience.

King reached out to Perspective: Branding (perspectivebranding.com) for the rebrand. “We were struggling to be seen in the set (because of muted colors), and finding it difficult to convert sales because the features of the bar were not clear and our brand identity didn’t have the weight and punch of a separate mark. We decided to take the plunge into new flavors (which our customers were requesting), and take the brand as a whole ‘down to the studs’ and really capture who we are and what we are about,” he says. Continue reading here: http://www.packagingstrategies.com/articles/89760-tahoe-trail-bars-rebranded-in-time-for-summer-outings.

Originally published on packagingstrategies.com on July 5, 2017.

No Added Sugar: Granola Bar Brands Get Fruity

granola bar brands get fruity

With the onslaught of trendy diets and health-conscious companies, more and more granola bar brands are eschewing sugar in favor of natural sweeteners. Forget those granola bars that are basically thinly veiled candy bars. Now, granola bar brands are replacing refined sugars with dried fruits and dark chocolate chips. But does that make them inherently “good?”

Granola has a reputation as being a health food product, but most store-bought granola and granola bar brands are loaded with processed sugars, oil, preservatives, and tons of carbs. Nature Valley, Special K, Quaker Oats, and Fiber One bars are chock full of nasty additives. Balance bars, for instance, are overloaded with ingredients you’d find in your average liquor store candy bar. The deceptively named bars include  Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat flavor that boasts a whopping 23% of your daily saturated fat, 22 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of sugar (from sweeteners like brown rice syrup, cane syrup, and tapioca syrup). According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average man should consume 37.5 grams of sugar in a day and the average woman should intake 25 grams. So your “healthy” bar leaves little room for a spoonful of sugar in your morning coffee or for a post-dinner treat.

You’d think, then, that so-called energy bars and meal replacement bars would be a better bet. But no —  bar brands with a health halo, like Odwalla, Kashi, and Clif, can be as injurious to your health as their more mass-produced counterparts. Take, for instance, thinkThin’s High Protein Bars, which claim to be a healthy meal replacement alternative and boast being “sugar free.” Look closely and you’ll see that these bars may not contain any added sugar, but they do contain sugar alcohols, in the form of maltitol syrup and glycerin. What does this mean? Sugar alcohol allows companies to legally claim “sugar free” status but these bars are chock-full of artificial sweeteners, which are arguably more detrimental than natural sugar.

So what bars should we be eating? Forget the granola. Instead, look to bars that get a power punch from nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and egg whites.

Granola Bar Brands Get Fruity 

The grams of sugar in fruit are not processed and are more easily recognized by your body than processed sweeteners. Opt for a bar that uses dates, cherries, or blueberries as their sugary element. The gluten-free Pineapple Chia Energy Bars from Amrita Health Foods get a sweet and tart flavor from organic pineapple and heft from chia seeds. They use no artificial or other sweeteners for each bar’s 11 sugar grams –tasty without being unhealthy. You can also find fruit-sweetened bars from Larabar, which mostly contain fewer than six ingredients, like dates, apples, walnuts, and cinnamon, per bar. The latest entrant into the market, ZEGO Just Fruit Bar makes bars such as Raspberry which are sweetened only with raspberry concentrate and apple juice.

Go Nuts for Nuts & Grains

Nut and grain bars are often targeted at a more health-conscious consumer. KIND Bars are a healthy and simple combination of dried fruit, various nuts, and the occasional chocolate chip. It’s basically like eating trail mix in bar form. They do, however, tend to have a bit of added glucose, so try their Healthy Grains Bar with at least five super grains and sweetened with natural ingredients like chocolate and honey. Awesome Bars are also an awesome way (yeah, we went there) to indulge in a granola-based, nutty bar without questionable ingredients.

Pack a Protein Punch from Egg Whites

RXBAR is the newcomer on the scene, and they blow the competition out of the water with a staggeringly simple base ingredient list that includes egg whites, almonds, cashews, and dates. Each flavor gets a burst of sweetness from blueberries, mixed berries, chocolate, or coconut. But the 17 grams of sugar in their Blueberry Bar, like its additive-heavy competitors, still gets you halfway to your total daily sugar consumption. Buyer beware.

 

Can you eat Packing Peanuts? What about your Coffee Cup?

can you eat packing peanuts?

Have you ever gotten a box in the mail, pulled out whatever was inside, been left with piles of packing peanuts, and wondered: can you eat packing peanuts? If you think it’s a crazy question, it’s not—many people wonder if packing peanuts are edible, and many more are likely surprised by the answer.

While most packing peanuts used to be Styrofoam — chosen because the shipping method is convenient and cheap—that material doesn’t decompose well. That’s why biodegradable packing peanuts are growing in popularity. They’re usually made from wheat and corn starch, making them edible (although not necessarily palatable). Such natural sources are indeed biodegradable and thus compostable.

The question of whether or not you can eat packing peanuts opens the door to a larger and more interesting conversation about food packaging and waste. We’ve talked before about how buying in bulk, for instance, doesn’t just save money but often reduces packaging, which is good for the environment. Another way for packaging to be greener, though, is for it to be biodegradable or, if we want to take a step further and head towards utopia, edible!

Water Bottles are Getting Better

Water bottles are perhaps one of the most obvious examples of wasteful packaging. Increasingly, though, companies are working to make them biodegradable. Boxed Water is the most obvious example of this trend; the company’s carton packaging is 76% made from paper, as the company explains, and that paper is all from sustainably managed forests. All of the product’s packaging can be recycled.

Naturally, traditional water bottle companies are looking to emulate that progress. Dasani’s plastic water bottles are 30% plants and (again according to the company) 100% recyclable.

Still, packaging that is recyclable and recycled are two different things. Last year, Americans used approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles, and recycled them at a rate of just 23%. And reusable water bottles are naturally far superior when it comes to minimizing environmental impact.

A similar story can be told for edible packaging, as there’s little to no environmental impact at all. Enter solutions like Wikicell, invented by a Harvard professor. In a nutshell, Wikicell is an edible skin that replaces plastic packaging—kind of like the gelatin that houses mochi ice cream. Naturally, companies will still need some kind of outer packaging to protect anything edible from dirt and debris, but such solutions at least minimize the packaging inside packaging that’s far too common.

KFC’s Edible Coffee Cup

A more recent related idea comes from an unexpected innovator: KFC. In 2015, the company’s test labs were working on a 100% edible chocolate coffee cup. Naturally, the hotter the coffee, the faster the cup would, ahem, degrade. There hasn’t been much buzz about the idea since then and this option also hasn’t really taken off. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reused the format or perhaps sold the concept to a third-party in the near future, though.

Edible packaging is an ideal solution when it comes to considering the environment in food sales—and you can bet demand will continue to rise as we continue to waste bottles, wrappers and the like. Biodegradable is a good short-term goal, but actual edible wrappers should be the finish line. As for how you can tell whether or not you can eat packing peanuts? Put a little water on one. If it begins to melt, it is most likely biodegradable.