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Smart Balance gets square

In May 2013, Smart Balance, a division of Boulder Brands, Boulder, CO, began market introduction of redesigned packaging for all of its 13 popular, heart-healthier buttery spread products.

New 4”-wide square polypropylene tub.
New 4”-wide square polypropylene tub.

The company has been switching over from 4.5-in.-dia round polypropylene tubs to 4-in.-wide square PP tubs. The changeover should be completed in all national markets by summer 2013. No alterations in the product volume/weight (13 and 15 oz), ingredients, or price are accompanying the packaging redesign.

Smart Balance evaluated the current round tub it had been using and determined that conversion to square tubs could free up valuable refrigerated warehouse storage space as well as optimize in-store shelf display space. The company calculates that the switch can increase warehousing efficiencies by up to 60% and shelf efficiencies by 50%. Grocers should be able to stack 60 square units on a refrigerated shelf in the same space where only 40 round units could have fit. Also, the product shelf facings, typically expanding from 10 rows for rounds to 12 rows for squares in the same space, are much more prominent with the new container style.

Steve Hughes, chairman and CEO for Boulder Brands, notes, “We are committed to creating innovative, solution-driven products for grocers and consumers. If our leadership motivates other producers of spreads and dairy items to go square, larger grocers can gain 30 to 40 feet on the shelves. This will allow retailers to introduce more new foods, including a wider selection of our own Smart Balance and Earth Balance products. We expect this packaging initiative to strengthen our retail partnerships and drive incremental business gains.”

As part of the conversion, Smart Balance also decided to do some labeling upgrades. John Becker, Smart Balance executive vice president and general manager, reports, “The company is transitioning from dry, offset printing to in-mold labeling that allows for bolder, more realistic, more appetite-appealing graphics. Also, new filling and membrane-sealing equipment has been installed at the company’s copacking facilities to accommodate the square tubs. Our packaging materials and systems suppliers and partners are considered proprietary at this time.” Also not available as of this posting is the identity of the company that makes the new tubs.

A study conducted for Boulder Brands by sustainability consulting firm Renewable Choice Energy found that the new square tub design can reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the products’ packaging and distribution and the retailers’ energy usage by 18%. 

Renewable Choice vice president Matt Wood reports, “The new Smart Balance package design reduces the amount of space occupied by each product and also requires less material to produce. These improvements generate significant carbon savings. The Smart Balance 15-ounce packaging could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 700 tons.”

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