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Branding Lessons from Vital Farms’ Fantastic Egg Carton

Packaging is your product’s greatest salesperson. On today's Take Five video, see how ethical food company Vital Farms uses attention-grabbing graphics, sustainable packaging materials, and clever consumer communication tools to elevate its egg packaging.

Quick hits:

  • Packaging doesn’t always have to be high-tech to capture consumer’s attention at shelf and deliver exceptional quality.
  • Vital Farms’ new egg carton is a unique hybrid construction of a 100% recycled-content molded pulp base and SBB lid that is recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. The sustainability of its packaging supports the environmentally-friendly and ethical standards of its products.
  • Extra touches, including a mini-newsletter with whimsical and informative articles tucked inside the carton, and instructions inside the lid on how to see a video of the exact farm from which the eggs originated personalizes the package and builds brand loyalty. 

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Listen to the story here:

Read article   Read the transcript below:

Hello, this is Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor of Packaging World magazine with Take Five.

As a packaging editor, I spend a lot of time ferreting out and reporting on the latest high-tech innovations. But sometimes, I come across a package that—while it may not include all the latest bells and whistles—delivers perfectly on its primary objectives of protection and branding, while also offering that extra something that will keep consumers coming back.  

Such was the case with a new egg package from Vital Farms that I picked up on a recent trip to a Mariano’s grocery store. I was looking for pasture-raised, organic eggs, and Vital Farms’ beautifully designed carton with its hand-crafted feel immediately grabbed my attention. After all, what conveys the message better about ethically sourced eggs than delightful illustrations of hens that look like they were hand drawn on a chalkboard, and copy that reads, “Happy Hens,” “Made with Fresh Air and Sunshine,” and Freedom to “Forage Outdoors Year Round.”

The hybrid carton is clearly sustainable as well, with a paperboard lid and a molded pulp base. This tells me that Vital Farms not only cares about the ethics of its products, but they care about their packaging as well.

But what really sealed the deal for me was when I opened the carton and found inside a slip of paper titled “Vital Times.” The mini newsletter features stories that include “5 Cluckin’ Great Tips from the Girls on the Grass to Blast Those Winter Blahs,” and “Bird of the Month—Mellow Macy,” with a picture of the proud hen. The articles are light and fun, meanwhile educating consumers on Vital Farms’ mission to bring ethically produced food to the consumer’s table.

Furthermore, printed on the inside of the lid are instructions on how to access 360-degree views of the exact farm from which the eggs in the carton originated. Austin, Texas-based Vital Farms works with 200 family farms to source the eggs. For consumers who are paying that extra cost for organic, pasture-raised eggs, this type of transparency only adds to the brand’s credibility.

After finding the Vital Farms egg carton, I did a little digging on the package. I’ve since learned that it was designed by Vital Farms and Hartmann Packaging. It’s an improvement the original hybrid carton from Hartmann already in use by Vital Farms. According to the packaging supplier, Vital Farms wanted to raise their stake in the ethical market, and so Hartmann set about producing a custom carton made from 100% recycled material. 

The new package now has a base made from 100% recycled paper and a lid made from solid bleached board that’s 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. According to Hartmann, the lid is also GreenChoice 100% certified. This means it’s CO2 neutral, as the carbon emitted during its production is offset by new tree plantings. Copy on the inside flap urges consumers to compost or recycle the carton after use.

Hartmann also shares that the new carton has a longer front flap, which provides more space for branding and greater shelf impact. Another cute touch, the right front tab was married with an illustration of a hen to make it appear as if the tab is the bird’s wing.

The new package was 14 months in the making and was launched in November 2020.

From materials to graphics to its clever and whimsical touches that engage and delight consumers, this egg carton is an excellent example of how even fairly traditional packaging can build brand loyalty and connect with consumers on a personal level. 

That’s all for this edition of Take Five with Packaging World. Thanks so much for joining me.

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