Category

Innovation

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

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!

 

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.  

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.

One Easy Step To Reduce Food Waste: Make Instant Compost

food recycler, how to make instant compost

Food waste is a substantial problem in the United States and beyond. Just in the United States, food waste makes up 30 – 40% of the food supply and is the single largest contributor to our nation’s landfills. While food waste is a multifaceted problem, food recycling and composting is undoubtedly one component of the solution. Simply learning how to make instant compost or use a food recycler is an easy and immediate step we can all take to help address our country’s wasteful habits.

As Cornell University’s composting school explained, “Composting provides a way not only of reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but also of converting it into a product that is useful for gardening, landscaping, or house plants.” But composting can happen on many scales; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge, overwhelming endeavor. In fact, one of the main hurdles for many individuals is that the typical process involves tossing food into a container and adding manure. This can be smelly and time-consuming.

A Whiz-Bang Food Recycler

One popular tool that improves the composting process is Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler. The food recycler can handle all food scraps except bones and pits. Simply toss them in and the Zera—which is about counter height and the width of a standard kitchen trash can—uses blades, a carbon filter and additives (plants, coconut, baking soda, etc.) to help break down the food. The additives come in a pack that users drop in before each use. After just a day, the Zera will have turned what used to be food waste into fertilizer. For the cherry on top, Whirlpool’s fancy food recycler can even be operated via a mobile app. It simply needs to be plugged into a standard outlet for the composting to take place.

According to the company, the Zera reduces food waste by around two-thirds. The only downside, really, is the machine’s cost. The Whirlpool Zera costs just shy of $1,200. Still, it seems consumers are willing to pay the price, considering Zera was funded via IndieGogo and raised 827% its original funding goal.

Compost Without the Stink

While the Whirlpool Zera is the most hyped option out there for food recyclers, you can learn how to make instant compost without it. A cheaper machine is the Food Cycler (not made by Whirlpool). It works very similarly, but is much smaller. According to its maker, it reduces waste by 90% and turns kitchen scraps into fertilizer in just a three-hour cycle. This machine has no enzymes or additives and is marketed as completely odorless, solving one of the greatest inconveniences of composting. And unlike the Zera, it can handle bones, pits and other tough scraps. On Amazon, you can get the machine for between $500 and $600—around half the price of the hyped Whirlpool option.

Either way, a food recycler is a great addition to anyone’s kitchen and an easy, small step anyone can make to reducing food waste. Composting is worth the time and energy in all forms, but is an even more appealing undertaking when it doesn’t have to be smelly or nasty or inconvenient.