Snack and cereal makers have stepped into smart packaging territory with stand-out, portable pouch formats but they can still stretch further, says a packaging expert.
Andrew Streeter, director of packaging management firm CPS International, said there had been clever progress in the global snack and cereal category with packaging that served consumer needs and helped branding.
“Cereals have been bag-in-box for perhaps 100 years and we’re now seeing not just the small players but big players like Kellogg move away from bag-in-box and test other formats, particularly the pouch,” he told Bakeryand Snacks.com.
“Cereals are flexing their brand equity and exploring alternative formats; moving into pouches as that method to gain traction.”
These pouch formats, he said, worked to create “disruption at the point of purchase” because they created a visual impact on-shelf but also had functional appeal because of easier portability and open and close functions.
The snacks sector was also increasingly shifting into pouch format, he said, with some taking the pouch shift further. More manufacturers were sealing pouch bags on each side, as opposed to on the back, he said, creating an overall flatter pack and in turn more canvas spaces for branding. “It’s an evolutionary step; a step forward.”
How ever, Streeter said there was still more that could be done with pouch packaging to make it smarter.
Beyond the Pouch
To progress further in the pouches, he said snack makers, for example, had to innovate around the ‘occasion’ of snacking.
“In a way, the pouch is a versatile animal..But snacks could benefit by opening up the occasion opportunity and that plays back to some enhancements of the pouch where it lends itself more to the consumption occasion. For example, by putting a gusseted base to the bottom of the pouch simply makes it more friendly – you can put the pouch on the table; it becomes a little bowl in its own right that you can share, you can hold it walking down the street, you might want to close it and restore it and the flat base lends itself to that.”
Some snack makers had already invested in gusseted bases for pouch packs,he said, bu there were some examples that were far more original. Snack packaging that opened into trays, for example, or microwaveable snack packs that opened up in the microwave.
“Some of these are littel bit ahead of their time, but I think the key point to remember is that snacks by definition are versatile and the versatility is in the occasion,” he said.
Securing ‘smart’ traction
For success to happen with these packaging developments, Streeter said three things needed to happen.
Firstly, he said cost and unit price had to come down to make these packaging formats more commonplace and secondly the consumer barrier of concerns around new technology and science had to be overcome. “The third point which is fundamental is that the words ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ have been overused and somehow we need to redefine,” he said.
Should this all happen, Streeter there was potential to utilize new and existing technologies to develop truly smart packaging at mass market level.
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