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Best Foods launches 'souperb' redesign

Redesigned pack for club stores saves on packaging materials while enhancing visual appeal. Lid-to-lid orientation plays a key role.
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Never judge a book by its cover they say. But Best Foods is hoping consumers will do just that when they see the stunning new packaging format created recently for Knorr Hearty Souperb Express dry soup mix.

The shrink-wrapped corrugated trays that used to hold the instant soup and pasta mix cups were so uninspired they began receiving negative attention from the Costco club stores in Canada that carried them. That proved reason enough to redesign the multipack says Richard Kendall senior packaging engineer with Englewood Cliffs NJ-based Best Foods which was recently purchased by Unilever.

“The white trays weren’t particularly attractive and of course they covered all the graphics on the actual cups of soup mix” Kendall says. “So you couldn’t really see the product you could only see the lids. It wasn’t too exciting.”

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The new multipacks combine an unusual carton concept with flashy graphics in a marked departure from the old packaging. The eight-sided carton designed and converted by Central Graphics (Mississauga Ontario Canada) is loaded manually as was its predecessor. But now the bottom eight cups stand on their bases while the top eight are inverted so that the 16 cups are oriented lid to lid. The carton is designed so its bottom closes around and grips the top rims of the bottom eight cups. That leaves eight beautifully decorated sidewalls fully exposed to the consumer while the top eight cups upside down are enclosed inside the carton.

According to Kendall this method of packing provides additional support over a conventional base-to-lid configuration.

“Because the lid is kind of thin and the cup base is smaller than the top the base would have pushed that lid in. By reversing it” he says “you’ve capitalized on the full strength of the cylinder. It was a very smart idea from the standpoint of self-support. It makes a huge difference when you stack the cups lid to lid.” The added stacking strength provided by this alignment is all the more important in the absence of the stacking strength formerly provided by the full-height corrugated tray.

The new 16-packs permit two-high pallet stacking. The colorful cartons are manually erected from one-piece flat blanks and hand packed at a Canadian contract packer. Finished cartons are stacked on a pallet stretch-wrapped and sent directly to Costco stores across Canada for display.

Materials savings

Because of the redesign Best Foods was able to get rid of both the shrink wrap that used to go over the white corrugated tray and the pressure-sensitive label that was applied to it. Also eliminated is the need for secondary packaging machinery such as shrink tunnels and label applicators. Kendall did not reveal the amount of money saved as a result.

But cost savings at the expense of visual appeal would not have been acceptable so Best Foods and Central Graphics paid careful attention to graphic design and printing. The converter uses a sheet-fed offset press to print directly on the E-flute corrugated. The printing is done in five colors. An aqueous coating is the finishing touch before individual units are die-cut from the printed sheets.

A job well done

“I only get negative feedback when something goes wrong” Kendall says. “If something breaks or something goes wrong believe me I get negative feedback. I have not heard a single thing about this package. So I’m presuming that it’s being very well received.” That’s evident in increased product sales though Kendall won’t disclose specifics.

The redesigned case was discovered in May by Packaging World at Pac-Ex Canada’s national packaging trade show. It was there that Best Foods and Central Graphics won the PAC Gold award for decorated corrugated fiberboard in the 2001 National Canadian packaging competition.

“We had no headaches and I knew it would be properly engineered” Kendall says referring to Central Graphic’s package. “The last thing you want is a project that’s not properly engineered and won’t stand up. They know how to do everything which is a big relief on my part.”

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