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Tradition may be at the heart of this year’s Thanksgiving turkey packages but contemporary icons and healthy messages show these brands’ inner souls. Gluten free? Check. Farm raised? Without hormones? Yep and yep. All natural? You bet. Minimally processed? Sure, throw that one in, too.
More than 45 million turkeys grace tables in the U.S. on Thanksgiving, which is about one-sixth of the turkeys sold each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vast majority of turkeys I saw in stores were frozen, which gels with stats on turkey sales at 80% frozen and 20% fresh. It will be interesting to see how this ratio changes as many Millennials are more interested in buying fresh for health and taste reasons.
Nearly all of the turkey packages in different grocery stores in the Chicagoland area were vacuum-packed bags covered with netting to add a carrying handle. Ho-hum…except for some standout graphics.
Here’s a mini feast of fowl packages designed to help these birds find good homes for the holiday.
1. Throwback photo puts family first
Butterball knows tradition and shows it with a nostalgic photo of a happy family enjoying a holiday dinner, with a whopper of a turkey at the center (see image above). The photo—which looks like it was taken in the 1950s when the world was slower and simpler than today—connects with the brand’s Throwback Photo Sweepstakes, which is explained in a box. Not quite Norman Rockwell but close.
An icon in the lower left on the front also says the product is “American Humane Certified.”
Next: 2. Easy to get this bird out of the bag
Mary stopped by to see me. She had a problem. It seems like an occupational hazard. Nobody ever seems to stop by just to have a cuppa and swap sea stories.
“I am a big believer in checklists,” Mary told me. “My team and I have spent a lot of time developing checklists for changeover, preventive maintenance and common repairs. I can’t get my mechanics to use them and then they forget to do things. Any thoughts?”
I gave her a cup of coffee anyway. “I understand the problem, Mary. Your mechanics, and other technicians, are skilled at what they do. They see checklists as sort of an insult. Why would an expert need instructions? It is a culture problem.”
“I know that, KC. What can I do about it?”
“Fiddlesticks on unchecked checklists. Dr. Atul Gawunde at Harvard had the same problems in operating rooms that you have in the plant. You should get copies of “The Checklist Manifesto” and get them to read it. If they are not readers, there are a number of videos by him, long and short, on YouTube explaining his thinking on why checklists are critical in OR’s, aviation and other industries.
“Also tell them the story of Jeffrey Skiles, co-pilot on USAir-1549. As they were on an unpowered glide path from Laguardia to the Hudson river, the first thing Skiles did was pull out a paper checklist for emergency engine restart. He managed to get through it twice before the water landing.
“If it is good enough for him, it is good enough for your team.”
Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery (www.packmachbook.com) and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on packagingdigest.com.
See a host of new ideas in packaging machinery, materials and more at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.
Sensors provide the needed real-time information for helping push packaging machines and operations to the next level of automation. Check out these three examples.
A presentation by Corey Morton, director of technology solutions, B&R Industrial Automation Corp., last week at SouthPack in Orlando centered on the crucial role of sensors and related devices for Connected Machinery, the Smart Factory and Industry 4.0. He used as an example a wraparound case packer and pointed to sensors ranging from proximity sensors to machine vision sensors—also think bar code readers that play a role as well—to passive radio-frequency identification tags to devices that provide readouts of temperature, voltages, positioning, frequency and voltage.
With that in mind, we present three new photoelectric sensors that provide the crucial data for quantitative and qualitative indication of what’s happening on a packaging production line.
First up is a new range of compact ultrasonic sensors, constructed of thermoplastic or stainless steel (both shown above), introduced this month by Carlo Gavazzi. The sensors provide long sensing distances up to 800mm, in spite of their compact thread length of just fractionally more than 38mm. The sensors are IP67 rated, and digital and analog output versions are available.
Next: A colorful sensor
With patient needs changing and pharmaceutical supply chains evolving, pharmaceutical manufacturers face numerous challenges. One contract packager explains how it, too, is evolving to provide the necessary support.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are navigating a changing marketplace. There’s greater variety in drug-delivery formats to support new formulations, new modes of dosing, and new users—in many cases the patients themselves. There’s also greater demand for item identification and tracking to support more-complex supply chains. PMP News asked Jeff Benedict, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Sharp Packaging Solutions, to weigh in on these changes, the challenges they present, and some potential solutions.
PMP: Can you describe some of the specific challenges the pharmaceutical industry is currently facing?
Benedict: As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve in the types of drug and biologic therapies it develops and where it delivers these products, we believe it is facing many challenges. There is the rising complexity of supply chains due to the diversity of drug-delivery mechanisms and the industry’s global footprint, an escalating increase in counterfeiting and diversion, and the continuous evolution and reengineering of companies as a result of the many mergers and acquisitions. Also, the new drugs being developed to meet new therapeutic categories often dictate new drug technologies, delivering these medications in different formats depending on the patient. This development sets up a whole new way of looking at drug delivery and its related package. Along with this, comes the challenge of identifying these products throughout the delivery chain and establishing the right IT infrastructure to capture the product data, store it, integrate it, and then share it where appropriate.
PMP: How are requests for drug-delivery and packaging evolving, and how can Sharp help?
Benedict: Sharp has been following closely the different formats of drugs in the industry. We have tremendous capacity in the United States and Europe to handle standard typical oral dose products requiring blisters and bottles, but we can also support, in both our Allentown and Netherlands packaging facilities, the high cost and highly divertible Schedule II drugs, distribution of which is pretty much controlled by the DEA.
In addition, we have made significant investments to expand our equipment platforms to support the ever-evolving drug-delivery challenges. Drug-delivery systems and packaging evolutions have evolved massively from oral tablets, a syringe, or a transdermal patch, to many different formats of delivery systems from the buccal and the oral thin-film dissolvable applications to single-unit syringes with a safety needle where the patient does the dose in the hospital or at home. As a result, our packaging lines have evolved to handle projects such as microdose powder filling into cartridges and different biologic applications for specific therapeutic categories such as vials and autoinjector pens. For these biologics, we don’t do sterile fill, but we do label, carton, kit, and serialize. For instance, we would take a vial, label it, put it in a kit with multiple syringes and different type of literature that might be patient required, serialize at all levels, carton it, and cold-chain ship.
Oral thin-film is another evolving drug-delivery mechanism. We currently have two lines in Allentown where we take the finished drug in a reel format and cut it, print on it, and package it. We will also have this capability in the Netherlands in 2016. We made the decision to invest in the specific pieces of equipment that support this drug-delivery mechanism because it represented a growing need in patient care for a quicker disintegration of the drug into the blood stream for those who can’t take oral medication or for conditions that might need a rapid dissolve. In the United States, we have one stability format line where we can do small runs, and then a larger line where we can dose and pouch commercial run batches. In the EU, we will have a full Harro Hoflinger line by late summer 2016 to support multiple customer applications for oral thin-film and dissolvable-type products.
Likewise, personalized medicine delivery is growing in therapeutic categories like diabetes or CNS conditions or for life-saving-type drugs. To meet these packaging needs, we have invested in secondary equipment with multiple lines in the United States and Europe that can take sterile-filled cartridges and do the assemblies of the injectable pens, label them, and kit them. However, we can take this a step beyond to meet late-phase customization needs cost effectively. For example, we can make a naked or unlabeled pen on a large-scale piece of equipment in the United States and then cold chain ship to our facility in Belgium, where we store the pens until QP release for the European theater, label, package, and finalize them in small lots for distribution.
Working with our clinical sister division also keeps us aware of drug-delivery changes, and we are called upon at times to support their customers’ requests for packaging applications that they could not label or pouch fill. We may start with a small Phase II project, establish a comfort level and meet audit requirements, and then assist that customer with full commercialization—truly beginning-to-end support.
Along the same lines, we have created an orphan drug cell in the United States as the culmination of a few clients looking for rapid-to-market release of product. Recognizing the importance of this need for the industry, we devised a way to work with these customers to establish a line and get it validated in advance so that order fulfillment can be immediate. Once we have a validated line, we are ready to go at a moment’s notice. So when a patient goes into a clinic and gets a script for one of these orphan drugs, the total turnaround from us to patient is three to five days. We can do this because we have the production and cold-storage capacity that might not be available internally to the pharmaceutical company that has lines devoted to specific products that are costly to switch over. We store the cold-chain vials in our refrigeration units until needed, and once we get the call, we then label and put the kits together and ship.
As a contract packager, we can establish these lines or meet other client specific requirements and leverage the costs over multiple projects making the investment far more cost-effective for us than it might be for the pharmaceutical company first venturing into this product. We also can draw upon our experience with our projects to constantly improve upon our operations. This makes us a very attractive partner to many companies as they can draw upon our expertise as well as our packaging operations. For us, the foundation of our business as a contract packager is really trust and relationship. At the end of the day, people make decisions on where they want their high-cost drugs packaged, and Sharp’s view is that it is an honor to be the last set of hands or equipment to touch the product before it goes out into their marketplace. As a result of this, we have been able to work with many companies as a true partner.
Blister packaging operations. Image courtesy Sharp Packaging Solutions
PMP: How are Sharp’s serialization capabilities being utilized?
Benedict: The distribution chain of a pharmaceutical product is a long and complex one. Where the drug API is being manufactured, where the finished compound of the drug is being manufactured, where the finished packaging is being done, where the distribution is being done, and where the patient is buying or being prescribed the drug are all critical information points. Serialization laws are looking to capture the packaging and distribution portion of this chain with laws that are already in effect in some countries, but will be in force in the United States in January 2017 and in Europe shortly thereafter. Sharp is a leader in the field of serialization, having lines in production for over 8 years. In conjunction with serialization comes the management of the data it generates. As a result, we have invested heavily in our IT functionality to stay ahead of the curve on meeting the data capture and sharing requirements that are inherent in today’s marketplace. We have the equipment, line-level architecture in the United States and EU, as well as a cloud network where we can support a data transfer between Sharp sites, our network vendors, and the customer.
Sharp has also recognized the need to put the right people in place to manage the complexities data capture brings to the production environment. In years past, it was the packaging engineer and equipment engineers talking to the customer. Now we have instituted an XPReS process in working with customers. We create a team consisting of a business development person, a customer service person, a project manager, and a quality tech transfer representative. We add people for more-complex customer requirements such as a validations engineer, an operations engineer, an electronics engineer, or a package design person. This team interacts well with the client team to support packaging its projects. To meet the growing IT component of our business, our project management has evolved into two groups: the standard group for onboarding, determining what lines are to be used, what materials, and what type of validation requirements; and then the IT development team where we work with the customer’s internal IT team or any of their consultants to support data integrity and transfer.
Because we have been at this since 2007, we have been able to standardize an approach to serialization, which is very well received by all customers of all sizes. We have worked with SAP, Oracle, and other customer-specific-requirement systems. We are linked with the key vendors serving this area and accepted by the industry: Systech, Covectra, TraceLink, QAD, and Domino Printing and Vision Systems. This provides an immediate level of comfort. In addition, we have chosen to build all of the internal Sharp serialization equipment in one location and ship to our European site, so that the same technology is being utilized throughout Sharp. This capability to integrate data and equipment, as well as our technical support team between our U.S. and European sites, offers a seamless experience to our customers struggling to meet the demands of a global marketplace.
Currently we are supporting U.S., European, and Asian customers with serialization on 18+ active lines running 50+ active projects ranging from large pharma and bio-science companies to virtual companies. We can provide up to five levels of aggregation, from printing on the individual blister cavity through the final shipping pallet. Over the last 8 years we have serialized 2 to 3 billion doses. Sharp has chosen to make the investment in the infrastructure for printers, cameras, and lines to support serialization. We have control over the technology within Sharp, which is a huge benefit for our customers. We can confidently tell our customers that they will not be the first mover or guinea pig. We can go out and say, “Here’s what we are doing.” It’s validated. Our parent company, UDG Healthcare, has also been very positive in supporting our business case of adding multiple serialization lines a quarter. We are looking to have 80 lines fully serialized within the next 24 months.
PMP: What are future industry challenges, and how is Sharp poised to help?
Benedict: The rapid increase in specialty medications and biologics requiring cold-chain distribution has escalated the need for refrigeration within packaging facilities, trucks, and packages. To meet this growing demand, Sharp has invested in another 120,000 square feet of production space for personalized medicines. The facility will open and be validated for 13 rooms and will grow over the next year to 20+, bringing its capability for cold-chain storage to 1000 pallets. All lines in this plant will be serialization ready and focused on specialty pharma and biotech products: vial-labeling lines, pen-assembly lines, oral thin-film packaging, and some customer-specific equipment. In addition, we are transitioning our cold-chain package to the Credo Cube multi-use packaging system. It is smaller and lighter than traditional polystyrene and gel pack systems as well as being 100% recyclable. As such, it cuts down on transport emissions, reduces global warming potential by 75%, and reduces post-consumer waste by 95%. It also reduces product destruction costs for the customer through its ability to maintain the desired temperature.
Sharp also recognizes the diminishment of pharma’s big count bottles of 500 and 1000 tablets or capsules and anticipates more 30-, 60-, and 90-count bottles coming in the future. As a result, Sharp is investing in count equipment for fillers of scheduled drugs to be ready to convert lines to meet customer requirements.
Meeting the needs of evolving markets is also on the horizon. Each country comes with its own set of complex regulations and therefore challenges to be met. Already well versed in meeting U.S., European, and Asian requirements, Sharp has begun testing of packaging and IT serialization and distribution support for companies in South America.
As an established commercial and clinical contract packager, we believe that Sharp is uniquely positioned to help the industry address these challenges. We offer beginning-to-end packaging solutions through robust commercial packaging capabilities in both the United States and Europe, as well as clinical packaging operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, supporting Phase I through Phase III clinical trials. This validated presence on two continents is a tremendous asset to our global clients in terms of having the authentication and expertise necessary to meet each market’s regulatory requirements. In addition, our experience in serving the needs of a broad range of clientele, from large pharmaceutical and bio-science companies; Tier I, II, and III companies and generic manufacturers to virtual companies, gives us a broad base of knowledge to leverage against each new client requirement.
For instance, a company can tap our package design lab to develop packaging for a new medication or biologic, drawing upon our expertise with other medications or delivery mechanisms in the drug’s class. We can also advise a client on packaging material specifications to meet unique drug requirements such as refrigeration or exposure to humidity or light. This capability help’s the clients marketing and brand teams tremendously, because they can confidently outsource these functions, preserving their internal resources for other deliverables, and obtain a package that works for the product and patient while performing effectively in the packaging operation.
Redesigned packaging for Unilever’s Klondike Kones ice cream treats breaks through the competition with a sales-gaining look that heightens appetite appeal. Brand owner and designer explain why and how the changes were made to “scream” taste appeal.
While we all scream for ice cream, the new packaging design for Klondike Kones frozen treats screams “taste appeal” to take back market share lost over the last several years.
Owned by Unilever and distributed in mass channels throughout Canada, Klondike Kones combine flavorfully decadent ingredients in a convenient wrapped and cartoned cone form.
“The Klondike Canada portfolio has grown over time, from the 1990s to today, with several strong introductions recently including Klondike Kandy Bars and new flavors in the core mix,” says Leslie Miller, senior brand manager, Unilever. “With a range of bars, Kones, Kandy bars and sandwiches, Klondike is one of Canada’s favorite frozen treats.”
Canada Klondike’s business was redesigned in 2009 with an easily recognizable brand block and construct, according to Miller. Yet soon sales cooled amidst fresh competition.
“Unfortunately, in 2014, one of our biggest segments–Klondike Kones–was facing steep competition, declining sales and underwhelming pack graphics in a world where appetite appeal had become king,” she says. “With minimal support and time, packaging was a key source for marketing to turn this range around.”
The brand turned to Little Big Brands to handle the project to revive the languishing brand with refreshed packaging design.
“Looking to use packaging as a source of turnaround we needed an agency that was proven to use pack creative as a catalyst for success – LBB,” says Miller. “We did a deep dive around how to keep the cones consistent with the rest of the range, yet dial up the product appeal and proposition—with no time for product development. We chose LBB because we needed an agency that could keep mind of the rest of the range and make significant improvements to drive the business. Its focus and skill was great on helping us understand what elements we could push to really enhance the design and create a new look and feel.”
The redesign was all about ramping up the flavor cues and giving the brand an on-shelf package that would beg consumers to pick it up, according to Pamela Long, LBB partner.
“Cones are meant to be about flavor, fun and indulgence, the packaging needed to live up to that,” she says. “We achieved that by focusing on the product itself and in particular moving the brand to custom photography – the only way to create the needed taste appeal. That was paired with an updated take on the arctic billboard for which the brand is famous.
With the new look, you know exactly what you are getting in the box and can feel great that it’s going to be delicious and satisfying!”
Kones are sold in cartons included two current SKUs, vanilla & chocolate and vanilla & caramel, and the launch of Chocolate & Caramel. Individually wrapped Kones include 3 SKUs—Vanilla & Chocolate, Chocolate & Caramel and Strawberry.
Redesign of three-product line sold in Canada coincides with a new flavor, Chocolate & Caramel.
Screaming taste appeal
One of Unilever’s challenges was budget related. “The toughest challenge was that we didn’t have the budget to redo the whole range, so we had to be mindful of the current brand pack construct while truly moving the needle on the Kones,” says Miller. “LBB did a great job on keeping the architecture similar, but working with color and texture to pop the Kones.
“At LBB’s suggestion, we also reshot the products, to improve appetite appeal and round out the new look and feel. We were also challenged, in the same realm, because we saw some incredible designs that could push the needle, but were too far from current and possibly too far for the brand to go, especially without ancillary communications.”
According to LBB’s Long, the competition provided the biggest cue for the redesign.
“That was the need to really ‘scream’ taste appeal – which is achieved through real-life imagery and photography for many competitive brands,” she says. “People are shopping the aisle looking for something that looks delicious and indulgent, and the competition was doing that better. We needed to not just be comparable; we needed to stand out as a superior taste experience.”
Next: The scoop on design changes, details and results
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The global market for bioplastics will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.8% to become a $30.8 billion market by 2020, according to a new report, “World Bioplastics Market Opportunities and Forecast, 2014-2020,” from market intelligence company Allied Market Research.
Karen Laird, PlasticsToday
According to the report, among the key factors propelling this growth are the rising environmental awareness among consumers and what it describes as the “substantial curiosity of packaging industries towards biodegradability,” which is responsible for the increasing adoption of bioplastics in rigid packaging applications. In fact, rigid plastic packaging applications are forecast to account for more than 40% of the market revenue by 2020.
Bioplastics are plastics derived from biomass: renewable feedstocks, such as corn, sugarcane and cellulose to name but a few. Not only is there a wide availability of renewable feedstocks, part of what is boosting the market across the globe is the fact that biobased plastics feature a smaller carbon footprint compared to fossil-based materials, allowing users to meet their sustainability goals more easily. On the negative side are the high production costs of bioplastics, which make them more costly to use. This so-called ‘green premium’ may well dampen market growth during the forecast period.
The consumption of “drop-in” bioplastics (Bio-PE, Bio-PET 30, Bio-PA) and others, says the report, will continue to dominate the overall bioplastics market through 2020. Drop-in bioplastics are non-biodegradable materials, derived from renewable raw materials offering identical technical properties to their fossil counterparts (PE, PET and PA, among others).
According to this study, Bio-PET 30 will be the fastest growing segment in the non-biodegradable drop-in market, as it delivers same performance as conventional PET with regard to re-sealability, versatility, durability, appearance, weight and recyclability.
Asia Pacific is predicted to become the fastest growing consumer during the forecast period. In terms of revenue and volume, polylactic acid (PLA) is projected to be the fastest growing segment in the overall biodegradable plastics market.
Read the full story at PlasticsToday.
Is your company taking advantage of the circular economy approach to sustainability? Have on-pack environmental marketing claims become more important to consumers or to your company? Are you correctly measuring sustainable packaging success? We invite you to share your thoughts on these critical issues in our short survey.
Branding and safety are now coming to the forefront for packaging of cannabis products, as the market for medicinal and recreational marijuana intensifies.
With Americans voting to legalize marijuana in a growing number of states, for recreational as well as medical use, demand for cannabis packaging design expertise is booming.
Dispensaries and brand owners with products ranging from marijuana flowers (buds) to THC-infused edibles and beverages—and the packaging designers and suppliers who serve them—are developing packages in a variety of formats.
Structural design musts include adherence to state regulations for marijuana packaging, particularly child-resistance, reclosability and ease of opening. Graphic design that creates a brand identity is also a focus for many in the nascent market. (Packaging for Auntie Dolores gourmet marijuana-infused edibles, for example, is both child-resistant and graphically sophisticated.)
Here are four examples of standout packages that help build brand affinity by emphasizing product quality and safety.
Putting a new spin on ‘brand elevation’
In the graphics for its IVXX cannabis products, brand owner Terra Tech Corp. uses lush color and copious amounts of black to create a luxurious look and feel. The IVXX Sampler Box (photo above) showcases three types of cannabis flower, each packaged in a one-gram bag. The boxed set also includes branded rolling papers and a lighter. Each packaging component is printed with the brand’s name and its tagline, “Elevate.” Anthem Worldwide designed the IVXX packaging.
Next: Nature imagery conveys product properties