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Better bags are the cat's meow

Sometimes looks do count. Such was the case for Nestlé Purina Pet Care Fancy Feast Gourmet Gold cat food, which earned a gold for printing achievement for Nordenia U.S.A.. The better-looking bags also reflect functional improvements.
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Indicative of a trend toward upscale presentations of pet food, the 3- and 7-lb side-gusseted Nordenia FlexBox™ bags replaced multiwall paper bags for three product varieties in 4Q 2007. The new bag substrate is 48-ga PET, reverse-printed gravure in six colors, laminated to polyethylene. The polymer bags also have a pressure-sensitive tape reclosure; the paper bags did not have a reclosure feature.

Nestlé Purina Fancy Feast brand manager Carey Mullen points out that this was an opportunity to do two things:

1. Provided an innovative structure that keeps the brand ahead of the competition in terms of moving from paper to a superior plastic structure.

2. Allowed the company to enhance the graphics to better address the brand’s premium quality.
Nestlé has been using the FlexBox for other pet food product lines, including Friskies brand cat food, for several years for larger bag sizes (see www.packworld.com/view-15891).

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Julie Greaser, marketing coordinator of Nordenia U.S.A., says the products are indicative of a trend to humanize pet foods through upscale packaging: “And with the high fat content, they needed a barrier to help protect the product through the supply chain.”

According to Nordenia, shelf life and freshness can be prolonged using a grease- and moisture-resistant barrier structure. The bag’s protection and durability helps eliminate infestation and provide package integrity and puncture-resistance against any rough handling during distribution.

Unlike paper, there is less wrinkling or less of a “shopworn” look associated with the new polymeric structure, says Mullen. “We’d seen a lot of damage to the paper bags,” she adds.

As a result, reclaim costs from retailers for damaged goods are expected to decrease. The improved protection also extends to consumer storage, whether in home or garage. Mullen says shelf life has been improved, though she cannot quantify that.

The glossy PET film and photo-quality gravure print enhance the products’ appearance on shelf and differentiate the products visually. One nuanced improvement was additional print details, such as a gold silk look to the bag’s background, Mullen says. The brand’s iconic cat was also improved via print, she adds, and the printing permitted the product photography to be more realistic. Additionally, the brand’s iconic goblet was also updated.

Package design was by Thompson Design Group. The preformed bags are filled and sealed at Nestlé Purina’s plant in Clinton, IA, using a bagger from Parsons-Eagle Packaging Systems (www.parsons-eagle.com) that was modified to handle the film bags, according to Greaser.

Although it’s too early for any consumer feedback, Mullen says retailers like the way the products look on shelf.

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