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Baby food takes a bold step

Nestlé of South Africa breaks through baby food barriers with Pureeasy, pureed foods retorted in two sizes of premade, glass-coated plastic pouches.
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Nestlé Ltd. Randburg South Africa has shaken up the region’s baby food category like a rattle with retorted stand-up pouches introduced locally about a year ago. Pureeasy is available in five 80-mL and three 100-mL (shown) varieties.

The pouches are composed of a nonfoil structure of 48-ga PET reverse-printed in gravure in seven colors/48-ga PET copolymer with glass coating/2.4-mil cast polypropylene. The preformed pouches are supplied by CLP Industries Ltd. Israel which has a U.S. division: CLP Packaging Solutions (Fairfield NJ). The stand-up pouches have a clear view window and carry a nine-month shelf life that’s identified with “best before” coding along the top seal. The packs have a tear notch on both edges along the top; a thin laser-scored mark for easy opening ensures that the pouch tears straight across the top front panel.

The products are Nestlé South Africa’s first entry into the homogenized baby food market according to Zanele Bacela product manager Weaning & Growing Up Foods Nestle Southern & East Africa Region. She calls the products a bold step in a market where all other pureed products are in glass jars. Almost too bold—she admits that reaction has been varied.

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“Positive responses relate to the visual attributes in that the pouch is innovative different and attractive—attributes that consumers associate with freshness” Bacela says. “The pouches are seen as durable and unbreakable and are lightweight for carrying and ideal for traveling. The initial negative response was ‘discomfort’ as the packaging breaks all existing packaging codes within the category. Mothers are used to feeding the baby straight out the jar. The fact that one can ‘feel’ the product through the pack was another cause for concern. Consumers are also used to resealing jars if contents remain but they cannot reseal the pouch once it’s opened. However once the product has been tried it delivers on taste and the consumer goes back for more.”

Educational copy

Thus notes Bacela the “biggest challenge has been consumer education.” One way that’s done is on the package’s back panel where copy under the heading “Puree made easy!” summarizes the pack benefits:

• Easy to carry—lightweight durable packaging.

• Easy to warm—simply stand pouch in warm water for 1 minute.

• Easy to open—simply tear along the seal.

• Easy to feed—decant [empty] directly into a bowl OR feed directly from the pouch by gently squeezing the side seams to form a rigid pouch.

• Easy on your pocket—no waste as every bit can be squeezed out.

• Easier than home-made.

Bacela says a common consumer perception is that the packs which sell for 3.29 and 3.89 Rand (USD .36 and .42) respectively are cheaper than the glass-packed products. She says that due to the imported packaging materials the cost of the finished product is high. An unidentified co-packer in South Africa fills and seals the premade pouches; no new equipment was required.

The rollout in the region continues with growing success. “Sales have been increasing month to month since the launch” says Bacela.

The products garnered an AmeriStar Award in the food category from the Institute of Packaging Professionals (see packworld.com/go/c063).

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