Cereal manufacturers should switch from two inner bags to one for club store packaging

Sustainable packaging is an incremental pursuit, quickened when adoptions are made by an entire category. For example, club-store-size cereals with twin bags inside a carton could be switched by cereal manufacturers to one large bag.

Benefits to the environment and to the companies making that switch would be less bag and box material (from downsizing), and faster bag filling and box loading.

The consumer conveniences of twin bags are easier handling and extended freshness, because one bag remains sealed while the other is being used. Given that the typical purchase of the club store package is for a household of heavy cereal consumption, freshness is no greater a factor than for the grocery store size. However, that’s not to overlook consumer perception shaped by years of promotion. In response, the companies can promote the stay-fresh qualities of the single bag.

As for easier handling with a twin bag, much of that is countered by the difficulty of fitting the opened bag back into the box still containing the unopened one. Product settling and shifting can necessitate a forced fit that crushes the product and bulges the box, even though the problem diminishes as the contents of the bag are consumed.

Nonetheless, there are considerations imposed by a single large bag. To prevent an avalanche of cereal overflowing the bowl from a large bag—especially when poured by children—why not introduce an easy-peel feature that is to be peeled only to a designated point? The opened portion would function as a pour spout. Alternatively, what about spot gluing the bag inside the box—as with some grocery store sizes—and designing a pour spout on the side of the box?
Surely, there are design houses that can meet that challenge.

Management will want the net effects on systems costs to be such that there is no price increase. The lesson here is that, in the pursuit of sustainable packaging, companies should devise greener versions without consumer sacrifice of convenience, quality, and value.

Before becoming a packaging consultant, Sterling Anthony worked for Fortune 500 food, healthcare, and automotive companies. He has taught packaging at the university level and has been a contributing editor for several trade publications, including Prepared Foods and Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry. His Web site, including contact information, is www.pkgconsultant.com.

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