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Article | December 31, 2001
Parkay spreads into kids' bottles
Kid-friendly bottles are made of a custom HDPE/LDPE blend for squeezability and feature a portion-control dispensing closure.
Parkay Fun Squeeze™ from ConAgra Dairy Foods Downers Grove IL a division of ConAgra Foods Inc. puts more interaction into kid-oriented containers and claims a first in the margarine category with 10-oz squeeze bottles. The custom bottles are designed to be kid friendly with nonslip “squeeze grips” and a flip-top cap with a smaller spout to help control portions and mess.“Fun Squeeze creates an entirely new segment of squeeze products bringing kids to the spread section” states Rich Scalise ConAgra Dairy Foods president and chief executive officer. “Given that dynamic we expect the squeezable spread category to grow as much as 10 percent.”The bottles are molded by Owens-Brockway (Toledo OH) from a blend of high- and low-density polyethylene. The addition of LDPE makes the monolayer bottles more pliable for kids to squeeze notes Parkay associate brand manager Paula Ford. Bottles are SPI coded as “7-other.” The sides are ribbed to make them easier for small hands to hold on to.The bottles are pigmented in colors that match the product hue electric blue and shocking pink. A number of colors were sampled in testing but Ford notes that kids in focus groups “overwhelmingly” approved of the pink and blue colors. The bottled spread has a seven-month shelf life which is ink-jet coded along the base.Decoration is provided by in-mold labels offset-printed in six colors by American Fuji Seal (Bardstown KY). Handling the label design was John Waski Design (Westport CT). “It was difficult to get all the package colors to work together” says Ford. “It’s an intricate design that rang a bell with the kids in focus groups.” The 6-mil DuraCore® label is a proprietary adhesiveless three-layer structure of HDPE/LDPE substrates. “In-mold labeling is optimal because it allows for better label durability than an exterior label” Ford says. “It protects the label from condensation and prevents cracking and peeling that might result from multiple squeezes and usage.” Both the company’s regular squeeze and its spray bottles are also in-mold labeled.Closure’s drawing power The 33-mm flip-top polypropylene cap from Seaquist Closures (Mukwonago WI) is supplied with an induction seal liner. The cap’s 0.125’’ conical orifice was determined through focus group testing. “Kids were telling us they wanted the orifice smaller so that they could draw with the product without squeezing out too much” says Ford. “While kids liked to be able to draw moms loved it because it was form of portion control for them. And it also helps out with less mess.
“Research with kids and moms showed an overwhelmingly positive response to Fun Squeeze. Moms appreciated the added benefit of calcium and vitamin fortification while kids loved the ‘cool’ colors buttery-flavored taste and fun packaging.”
In addition to consumers another key group whose input was crucial was Parkay’s own production and engineering personnel. “The Parkay brand team worked very closely with our packaging and production engineering partners as well as all our outside vendors” says Ford. “The bottle and label were designed to be highly kid friendly and fit with our existing production capabilities.”
Bottling is done at the company’s large margarine production facility in Indianapolis IN. “Designing the bottle to fit with our existing production equipment was one of the bigger challenges we faced” Ford tells Packaging World. “We utilized equipment that was flexible enough to allow for different package sizes and designed the bottle accordingly.” She would not disclose more details only adding that “it’s a great looking package that runs well on our packaging equipment.”
Ford says that there was interest from consumers who had heard about the product even prior to the launch. “That was great news for us” she enthuses. To meet the growing prelaunch demand Parkay expedited development to ship the product earlier than planned. The products were shipped starting last September and were national in November. Parkay Fun Squeeze retails for $1.39 at grocery stores and mass merchandisers.
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