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CPGs focus on graphics

Where packaging is concerned, consumers often judge a book by its cover. Therefore, glossy coatings and stunning graphics can greatly influence a shopper’s purchasing decision.

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Of course, that news won’t make “60 Minutes,” but it does affect packaging decision makers at companies such as Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Mars/Masterfoods, Bacardi Bottling, and The Scotts Company.

Professionals from these consumer packaged goods companies spoke during a May 3 conference program entitled, Graphic Arts User Focus Session. The session was part of the e/5 UV&EB Technology Expo & Conference held at the Charlotte, NC Convention Center May 2-5. The five “e” references in the e/5 portion of the show’s name referred to ultraviolet and electron-beam coating curing technologies as efficient, enabling, economic, energy [efficient], and environmental. The Graphic Arts session was sponsored by Paper, Film, & Foil Converter magazine, the National Assn. for Printing Leadership, and Packaging World magazine. The conference and expo was presented by Radtech International North America.

Gary Lietzke, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, presented How Coatings Are Selected and Used for Performance. He said that when it comes to packaging for the company’s Xbox product Xbox introduction, a paperboard sleeve with a matte green-and-black color scheme plus ultraviolet curing of the pack’s carton helped provide shelf appeal, at a reasonable cost. Various regional suppliers helped the packaging achieve a consistent look and allowed the company to use a carton without requiring a film overwrap.

Arden Haynes, a packaging engineer with The Scotts Co., Marysville, OH, discussed UV&EB Technology Helping to Drive Expansion in the Lawn and Garden Market. Haynes noted that in the past eight months, Scotts began using EB (electron-beam) processing to produce some of its bags of soil products. That followed the company’s use of UV (ultraviolet) coatings a couple of years earlier.

“The technologies deliver gloss and edge-to-edge printing [that compares favorably] to surface printing that’s not as glossy,” Haynes told Packaging World in a follow-up interview. “Both methods provide us with a nice, shiny bag that has marketing appeal, but the advantage to EB curing is that it gives us an additional supplier so that we’re not [limited to] a single supplier source.” Haynes noted that Scotts is exploring the use of EB technology for corrugated cases as well.

Dennis Ruehl, package development, fabric and home care, for Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, addressed End-User Benefit for Film-Laminated Cartons. He noted that “the consumer is our boss. We conducted consumer research that indicated the main problem with our product was moisture that caused powdered laundry detergent to clump.” The company provided moisture protection to the carton during the gravure printing process, relying on an EB system to bond the acrylic-oriented polypropylene.

“The benefits were clear at the first moment of truth on the shelf,” said Ruehl. “The film coating provided a 60-percent improvement in gloss, and moisture protection that increased by 50 percent.”

Connie Williams, of Mar’s Inc.’s Masterfoods USA, Hackettstown, NJ, explored Benefits and Characteristics of Coatings for Consumer Packaging. Williams discussed previous ink problems related to scuffing for snack foods. New packs for Skittles candy and Cookies&-brand cookie bars were cited as recent examples where EB–cured coatings improved package appeal. Other products, like chocolate and Uncle Ben’s rice, were updated with a laminated coating to help combat odor absorption.

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