Sensational soufflé packaging reunites Delici with Costco

The 2018 follow-up to 2016’s successful Delici dessert mousse packaging is a soufflé uniquely packaged in Ferrari-red ceramic ramekins that are reusable.


Ed. Note: One of the best-read features posted at Packaging Digest over the past two years that continues to draw solid interest monthly was our interview with designer Justin Johnson of More Brand from April 2016 regarding a unique packaged dessert developed for Costco (Decadent Delici dessert packaging designed for Costco).

That breakthrough hit is a hard act to follow, but Johnson—who branched out with a food-and-beverage-specific design business, Shelf Packaging—and his associates are up to the task with something that’s at least as innovative. In fact, it’s so unique, this may very well be the first time this material has ever been considered, much less used, as a container in the packaged food market.

This time, Johnson tells his own story of a sensational Dark Chocolate Soufflé debuting at Costco in Canada later this month.


The brand

The new Delici soufflé product is a natural extension to the Delici product portfolio. After having an initial breakout hit with our reusable dessert mousse glasses, the pressure was on to expand market share in the fresh dessert category. Delici’s ambitions extend well beyond that of a mousse company; Delici creates fresh desserts for those personal moments of indulgence as well as impressing guests at special events.

We will soon be launching our first item, “Dark Chocolate Soufflé,” with several more to follow throughout 2018. Set to debut at Costco in Canada, it was specifically created for the Christmas through Valentine’s Day period expressly for Costco and features a Ferrari red ramekin. If the results are good with this initial short launch into Valentine’s 2018, then this item will be carried from Christmas through Valentines going forward. As before, the packaging, printing and manufacturing of the products was done in Belgium.

The packaging

A significant component of the Delici brand is the thoughtful packaging of the product. One of our core brand values is that the packaging must create additional value for the beyond the life of the product. The Shelf Packaging team ensured that the new soufflé met those non-negotiable brand criteria.

Delici’s new dark chocolate with salted caramel soufflé is packaged in ceramic ramekins that are comparable to what you would find at your local upscale kitchen store. After use, the individual serving cup ramekins are great for baking, cooking or serving at home. They make great decorative serving dishes for ingredients and toppings in the kitchen. They are even microwavable. Those less inclined to cook can use them to tastefully store change or keys.

We had a custom ferarri red ramekin manufactured to not only enhance the beauty of the dark chocolate product, but to create an ambiance related to both holidays. The product beauty photography was done with a background using a natural white barn wood sourced from Kentucky creating a beautiful light, airy and clean presentation complimenting the product and allowing it to be the hero.

The ceramic ramekins were extremely difficult to source. All of us that play a role on the Delici team had very high expectations. Our desired specifications and large quantities presented serious challenges. Not only that, the weight of the product and size of the portions added greater complexity. It was a tough problem that took many months of painstaking research and development to get right.

Graphics are printed C1S paperboard stock printed with five colors and glued for a tight tolerance on the plastic clamshell. Each filled ramekin is about 100 (3.53oz) net weight.

We thought the development of the outer packaging would be easier this time around because we had been through the process before. However, in many ways our team found it much more difficult. When you have a big hit on your first product, the pressure builds and the expectations are high for both your internal team and your customer base. Our team refined this package down to the millimeter, iteration after iteration. When one team member was worn out and ready to call it “good enough,” another one stepped in and pushed it further.

The graphics

As far as the graphics, the design team at SHELF Packaging wanted the look and feel of the packaging to appropriately communicate that of a freshly prepared dessert. The photography was shot in a workstation type of environment. Ingredients are loosely visible in the shot where the product itself is being prepared in real-time. The package back shows the dessert being lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar visually reminiscent of a light snow or magical fairy dust enchanting the consumer. The graphics are distressed for a more natural look than our elegant mousses.

The product

The product development was agonizing. “Eating a soufflé everyday for months to get the recipe perfect doesn’t sound bad to most people, but it was brutal,” says Mike Horne from Sunwest Sales, “and duplicating a fine restaurant soufflé for mass consumption was really tough.”

Translating the small batch recipe into a mass-scale production and keeping that home-style dessert quality was demoralizing at times. The thing to take away is when you have a passionate leader like Delici founder Steven Himpe the standards are high and there are no such things as shortcuts or “good enough.” That is what we love about working with Steven and Mike. You can achieve great things when you have built a relationship on trust. It gives all parties the freedom to be direct, critique hard and push-back until the problem is solved.


The response

After many late nights and endless pots of coffee the teams at Shelf Packaging and Delici are proud of the final result. Buyers are excited and eager to get this product on the shelf.


Justin Johnson is the founder of SHELF Packaging and has 17+ years’ experience in branding and package design for club store, c-store, private label and grocery channels. He can be reached at or 918-609-3529.

SHELF Packaging is a package design and branding agency specializing in snacks, food & beverage. We strategize & create to power the growth of your brand portfolio by building authentic connections between your brands and your customers. 


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? During WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018, you’ll find free educational presentations, hands-on demos, networking opportunities and expert-led Innovation Tours. For more information, visit WestPack, which is co-located with PLASTEC West.


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Proposition 65 and food packaging: A preview of coming changes

There are high-stakes changes on the horizon for the well-known California regulation that will likely and more deeply impact food packaging and food packagers.


Most United States citizens even outside of California are aware at least in a general sense of that state’s Proposition 65 regulation from warnings and cautions on the labels of many common products that states “WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”

Although the label warning now seems ubiquitous when used across such a diverse range of consumer products, it can still give users pause before buying or continuing use of a product.

There are forthcoming changes to the regulation that will more strongly impact food packaging, which is the topic that’s part of an upcoming conference session during  WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8. Presenter Mitzi Ng Clark, partner, Keller and Heckman LLP, provides an executive summary of her talk in this exclusive Packaging Digest Q&A.

What’s the backdrop to the regulation relative to food packaging?

Clark: When it comes to packaging, California’s Proposition 65, formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is one of the state’s most well-known regulations. The law requires California to publish a list of chemicals “known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity” and prohibits a company from knowingly exposing any individual to a listed chemical without first providing a “clear and reasonable warning” to such individual unless the exposure is below a “safe harbor” (i.e., a no significant risk level (NSRL) for a carcinogen or a Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for a reproductive toxicant).  There is the potential for Proposition 65 enforcement to affect packaging materials due to the presence of bisphenol-a, lead, acrylamide, styrene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, vinyl chloride, and other listed chemicals that may be present in packaging materials. 

What’s upcoming that packaging professionals should know about?

Clark: New regulations on Clear and Reasonable Warnings becomes effective this year on August 30.  The most significant change is a revision of the warning language to define “clear and reasonable” that requires the identification of at least one carcinogen and at least one reproductive toxicant present in the given product and refer consumers to a Lead Agency Website for additional information.  Unlike the existing warning regulations, the new regulations present the possibility of manufacturers to face liability even when a warning is provided (i.e., because there is arguably a lot of potential for error).     

What about the impending changes is surprising or worth pointing out?

Clark: Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Proposition 65 is its enforcement.  Any private individual can enforce Proposition 65.  Even if you have a scientifically sound, conservative assessment to support the conclusion that no warning is necessary—the plaintiff need not accept any of your reasonable assumptions, and you may still end up paying damages.  In other words, having a sound compliance narrative does not necessarily protect companies from liability.  It’s important f­or companies to understand their Proposition 65 liability, how to ­­assess that liability, and how to interpret the regulations.  The stakes are high—out of 333 judgments in 2017, total penalties amounted to more than $167 million.  Given that California represents the 6th largest economy in the world, it is hard to deny the reach of the law to all businesses, even if not located in the State. 


Mitzi Ng Clark will touch on all aspects of Proposition 65 and how it impacts the food packaging industry in her presentation at WestPack, February  on Thursday, February 8, 1:30pm – 2:15pm. You will find more information about the tradeshow and the on-site packaging conference through the WestPack website.


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Once upon a time: Why brands should tell their sustainability story

Like many brand owners these days, you embrace sustainability and leverage it in your marketing strategy to appeal to eco-minded consumers. So how can you extend that halo, as it’s called, through to your packaging?

Packaging authority and consultant Robert (Bob) Lilienfeld will share his sustainable storytelling tips in a free, one-hour presentation on Wed., Feb. 7, at 10:30 a.m., at WestPack 2018 in Anaheim, Calif. He’ll give his presentation “Strategically Communicating Your Sustainability Story” in the new WestPack Hub in Booth 5297.

Lilienfeld has been involved with packaging environmental issues since the early 1990s when he helped establish a plastics recycling program of the City of Chicago’s outdoor festivals and sports stadiums. At that time, Lilienfeld also started the ULS Report (ULS=Use Less Stuff), which has gone on to become a highly read and respected newsletter. He has also been actively involved with Walmart’s sustainability initiative, serving on the Corporate Sustainability Index advisory team, the Food/Agriculture Sustainable Value Network and Waste SVN. Currently, Lilienfeld writes for a variety of packaging- and sustainability-related magazines, including Packaging Digest, PlasticsToday and Environmental Leader.

Lilienfeld gives us a glimpse of what you’ll hear during his WestPack 2018 presentation.


Why should telling the sustainability story be part of a brand’s strategy?

Lilienfeld: I just read an article about Millennials hoping to make a difference when spending and investing their money. Having a good sustainability story is an important part of their decision making process. This is especially true for legacy brands, which Millennials don’t hold in the high regard that previous generations held them. The basic assumption going forward for Millennials is that companies such as Amazon act as regulators, ensuring that whatever they sell will do the functional job and that price is therefore the most important factor in purchase decisions. Being able to add a compelling sustainability message can help rebuild the differentiation and brand equity that would otherwise be lost.


What is the best way for a brand to communicate its sustainability story and why?

Lilienfeld: By solving a problem that’s important or personally relevant to its target audience. And doing this in a credible, sincere manner. For example, people who eat tuna would naturally be concerned about the sustainability of the tuna population from two perspectives: sound harvesting/population management, and healthy oceans free of debris. Working with, and investing in, non-profits that specialize in these activities are therefore natural collaborations for the brand to list on-package.


Can you give us an example?

Lilienfeld: Problem: You want your kids to take healthy snacks to school and actually eat them. Solution: A single-serve package of carrots from a package that holds many of them. At first glance, this might seem wasteful. But here are some things to consider:

First, the package delivers the right portion, so that food isn’t wasted. Second, it’s so convenient that parents don’t have to work hard to give their children something nutritious, healthy and great tasting. That means the parent can reach for the carrots, not (just) the cookies. Third, single-serve bags mean that the container is only opened at the point of consumption, keeping the other carrots in their separate bags fresh as well.

Here, the sustainability story is two-fold: The food, and all of the resources it took to produce it, are used effectively and efficiently while not being wasted. Plus, there’s the strong social sustainability story related to ensuring healthy kids. The packaging can tell that story rather simply: “By delivering portion control, this package helps provide the goodness and nutrition you want for your children.”


What is the worst way and why?

Lilienfeld: To me, the worst solutions are those that are both purely packaging related and of no real environmental value. Think of terms like “Earth Friendly,” “Green” and “Good for the Planet.” These are hollow platitudes with no real substance in terms of the ecological value that they provide. In fact, they may not be in conformance with published guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or the agency’s current thinking on the subject of environmental marketing claims. Thus, they may lead consumers to believe they are making sustainable choices, when in fact there is little to no proof that they are actually doing so.


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