Highest Achievement Award
Frozen treat ticks all the flexible packaging boxes
When Le Mars, IA-based ice cream maker Wells wanted to break from what it saw as a sea-of-sameness in the frozen treats section, it turned to flexible packaging to innovate.
Having recently converted its regular ice cream products to clear plastic tubs, Wells launched the four flavors in its Bunny Snacks line in carton-like “box pouches,” or flat-bottom, side-gusset pouches. This pouch format combines vibrant graphics with clear windows that make the frozen treats visible and a unique closure system that allows for resealing. Wells earned the FPA’s Highest Achievement Award overall, with not one, but four medals. It received two Gold Awards in Packaging Excellence and Sustainability, and two Silver Awards in Expanding the Use of Flexible Packaging and Printing and Shelf Impact.
“To our knowledge, this is the first use of flexible packaging in the carton-dominated frozen treats section of the grocery store,” says David Potter, Vice President & General Manager, Plastic Packaging Technologies, converter on the project. “Wells won the Dairy Foods Dairy Processor of the Year award in 2016 for its rebranding of Blue Bunny ice cream, which included their conversion to innovative packaging into clear plastic tubs. Leveraging the marketing insight that consumers want to see the product at the point of purchase, the company looked to us at PPT to help it develop a unique flexible package that delivered the comparable graphic impact of printed cartons while also providing product visibility and package resealability.”
Resealability became key to Wells thanks to a consumer insight revealing that most customers were emptying the individual treats from the standard cartons into their freezers to save space as individual frozen treats were consumed. This behavior meant the brand visibility of the primary package was lost. But the resealing capability of a pouch, which by nature is a package that diminishes in size as the contents are removed, allows brand messaging of the full package to be retained throughout its use.
A national launch introduced an entirely new product line for this well-established brand. While Wells wanted a resealable feature—unavailable in a carton package—it also wanted the top of the pouch to be able to be opened fully during product filling. PTT sourced an Idemitsu Pocket Zip closure system to accomplish both goals. This particular zipper material spans the entire width of the package and does not require the side gussets to be terminated/sealed, allowing the entire mouth of the package to stay open during filling of the treats. A simple band sealer is required for the final top seal.
Also of note, the unique closure is strategically located on the back panel of the pouch to preserve the branding on the face of the package until the last treat is consumed. Wells cleverly uses its Blue Bunny character on the back panel to highlight the opening strip as a consumer interaction opportunity.
From the start, Wells was keenly interested in the look of the registered, surface-printed matte varnish coating. Not only was the matte look appealing to the company in general, but it also allowed for design highlights and clear windows simply by not printing the matte varnish in those specific areas. The dual-web design of the box pouch also provided the option for full clear panels in the sides to further enhance the desired product visibility. In order to provide the vibrant graphics and color densities consistent with printed cartons, PTT used a new ultra-high opacity white ink backing technique for the design area that exceeds 70% white opacity.
On the heels of a successful rollout, Wells has since added a seasonal flavor for the holidays, a club-store size, and four new flavors for 2018, all in the new box pouch format.
Weighing in at 17 g per snack, the Bunny Snacks box pouch weighs 45 g, or 73% less than a comparable printed carton. This provides significant savings in emissions and the total carbon footprint impact when considering inbound material freight to Wells and outbound shipments for a nationally distributed finished product. It also translates to reduced consumer waste at the end of the product life cycle.