Portion cups increase snack olive consumption

New Pearls brand black olives in a four-cup multipack provide convenience and portability for consumers hungering for a healthy, mess-free snack.

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In the last several years, olive brands have stepped up their packaging game, offering new single-serve formats—flexible pouches and aluminum cans among them—to position their products as a healthy and portable snack alternative. The latest contribution to this category is Musco Family Olive Co. of Tracy, CA. Launched in spring 2013 and expected to be fully available nationwide by spring 2014, new Olives To Go! puts the company’s Pearls brand Black Pitted Large California Ripe Olives in a multipack of single-serve plastic cups.

“Black ripe olives are a mature category in the grocery store center aisle, and—before the introduction of Pearls Olives To Go!—the category was flat,” says Musco Vice President of Corporate Development Kristin Daley. “This was likely because jarred and canned olives weren’t addressing consumers’ increasing demand for convenience, portioned servings, and versatile portability.”

The Olives To Go! package consists of four 1.2-oz clear plastic cups, sealed with a clear, “e-z peel” film lid, and unitized in a brightly decorated paperboard carrier. Each cup offers 40 calories’ worth of product, amounting to 2.5 servings as defined by the FDA.

Daley relates that development of the proprietary cup construction, which bears a #7 Other resin identification code, was a lengthy process. “A thorough search was performed to find a packaging supplier with the technical capability to provide a high oxygen-barrier container that could maintain the olives at the same high quality and with the same delicate flavor our consumers have grown to love in our classic canned products.” Produced by a proprietary supplier, the cups provide an 18-month shelf life.

Comparing the cups to pouches, Daley says the cups, holding brineless olives, eliminate messy usage and reduce the chance of product being crushed or broken, which she says can result from a flexible format. “Consumers are very familiar with the cup format because of products such as applesauce,” she adds, “and they can easily incorporate Pearls Olives To Go! into their ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle.”

Capitalizing on the Pearl brand’s established equity, design firm Tesser used the same bright “school-bus yellow” as used on Pearls’ canned and jarred products, along with black and primary colors, for the paperboard carrier. Package graphics were designed to be fun and informative, highlighting the product’s healthful benefits and ease of use.  A graphic on the back of the pack compares the olives to potato chips, indicating the olives have fewer calories (80% fewer), less total fat (70% less/g), and no saturated fat. Copy on the top of the carrier reads, “A tasty wholesome snack!”

Since being launched, Pearls Olives To Go! have reportedly increased olive sales as well as brought new customers to the category. According to Daley, actual market data and early data gathered during the product rollout indicate that Olives To Go! increases sales across the category by 5.7% and basket size by 7%, with purchase frequency three and half times that of canned olives. “Shopper data at one major retailer indicates that 90% of new households purchasing Olives To Go! are also new to the category—a huge incremental gain for our customers.” 

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