Market research organization NPD Group claims that US consumers are less likely to skip meals than they were five years ago, but they are more likely to describe breakfast, lunch and dinner as ‘mini-meals’, with the average number of items consumed at dinner, for example, falling from 5.3 in 1985 to 4.1 today.
But as variety at traditional mealtimes has narrowed, snacking in between meals has increased. Over half of Americans (53%) snacked two to three times a day, the market researcher found, and those with the healthiest overall diets were most likely to snack frequently.
Adults under 45 years old claim they have busier lifestyles than Baby Boomers and Seniors, making snacking and the consumption of fast food far more common due to the portability and convenience of these foods.
Any company that hopes to conquer a share in this market tries to find a way to stand out in a crowded field. And that shows in the packaging. The last months have seen a wide array of innovative packaging for take-away lunches, snacks and single-serve meals, all targeting the growing number of one-person households, the busy bees as well as the aging baby boomers.
Let’s have a look at a selection of this wide array of innovative packaging. We will see the Malmö Aviation compostable breakfast boxes, the Bio-Plus Earth salad boxes, the paperboard dispensing pouch for Spätzles, the PleatPak (for burgers and sandwiches) and the Magic Bag (for French fries and finger foods), the self-cooking breakfast egg from Russia, the Lundberg Family Farms new pouches with Press-Lok closure technology and as last the Patakukkonen, a Finnish traditional oven baked kukko.
Compostable Breakfast Boxes
The Swedish airline Malmö Aviation launched breakfast boxes made of paperboard. The materials used in the boxes are the virgin fibre-based paperboards from Iggesund. The outer shell of the box is made of ordinary Invercote, while inside the serving tray is made of Invercote Bio to hold the fresh food. This tray is in turn flow packed with a modified atmosphere to increase the food’s shelf life and help prevent fogging. Invercote Bio features a bioplastic coating.
The combination of paperboard and bioplastic which are certified compostable to European standards means that the tray can go into the same waste stream as the food scraps. They can all be sent directly to an anaerobic digestion plant to produce biogas without the need for prior sorting.
Bio-Plus Earth recycled paperboard containers
Whole Foods launched two sizes of paperboard deli containers with a new coating that replaces 100% polyethylene with one that combines PE and calcium carbonate. The containers for use with its salad bar and hot food selections consist of a compostable wood fibre-based clamshell, and two sizes of the Bio-Plus Earth recycled paperboard containers from Fold-Pak.
The Bio-Plus Earth containers with Smart Planet’s EC-40 coating contain up to 60% less polymer content by weight than 100% low-density PE coatings while providing superior barrier properties to moisture, oil, grease, and fatty acids.
Once implemented, the new containers will have replaced 1.5 million units/year.
Although for Whole Foods the introduction of these new containers represent a reduction in the use of plastics, the company claims that the use of Smart Planet Technologies’ clear EarthCoating is an “in-the-meantime solution”, while its suppliers, including Smart Planet, work on developing a coating that can be certified compostable, Whole Foods ultimate goal.
Paperboard dispensing pouch
The Italians aren’t the only pasta-lovers. The German answer to pasta is Spätzle, a typical part of Germans identity and cooking-culture. Although Spätzle are served and enjoyed throughout Germany, they are considered a specialty of the Swabian (Schwaben) region.
Who comes from this Southern German region needs Spätzle, preferably every day. The problem is to make a good dough. Spätzle are made from flour, eggs, water, and salt. Compared to Italian pasta, the Spätzle dough is moister and softer. Because of this, the dough cannot be rolled out.
The answer is given by frizle AG, which presents the dough conveniently packaged. The concept, designed by VerDeSoft GmbH is a “stand-up pouch” made from virgin paperboard laminated with foil, integrating a dispensing function for paste-like dough in boiling water. In other words, the Spätzle- (pasta) press function is an integral part of the packaging.
To realise this the stand-up pouch, made by Martin Spiegel Kartonagenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG, has to be hold over a pot of boiling water, the foil seal at the bottom removed and the packaging squeezed. Through the holes in the bottom the dough drips into the water and the finished noodles can be skimmed off after a minute and served.
The company claims that the noodles are freshly cooked with a unique texture and flavour in a few minutes, and are not comparable with dried or precooked products.
What is a breakfast or quick lunch without an egg? However for on-the-go it is a difficult product, when you want to eat your egg freshly boiled. That’s why even everyday items need sometimes to be seen from a different perspective. And that indeed did the Russian design firm Kian, which came up with an egg packaging, called Gogol Mogol, which is more than just an egg carton. It “boils” the egg in the packaging.
This unique egg carton concept is made out of recycled paperboard, while the packaging also holds a means to “boil” the eggs stored inside, as Gogol Mogol egg carton comes with a not-specified substance under the first paperboard layer, separated by a membrane which can be removed when a small label is pulled off. This causes the substance to mix and folowed by a chemical reaction, which is enough to heat up the egg stored inside.
Within a few minutes, when the consumer opens the cover of the egg packaging, he/she has a boiled egg
It is quite a unique concept that combines an egg package and a way to cook it as well. But whether it will be available as a commercial product still remains to be seen.
PleatPack and the Magic Bag
GreenDustries is changing the way people eat fast food with its two proprietary packages: the PleatPak (for burgers and sandwiches) and the Magic Bag (for French fries and finger foods). The PleatPak and Magic Bag are manufactured to perfectly fit the contours of the food it is intended to contain.
The packaging eliminates messy stains and cold, soggy food by using its pleated technology, providing the consumer a sanitary way to eat out of the PleatPak and prevents condiments from spilling. It allows the sandwich to be eaten comfortably and neatly with just one hand. The company claims that the PleatPak also is the best solution for the nearly 70% of fast food consumers who order from the drive-thru window, many of whom eat in the car.
The Magic Bag stands on its own, spreads out to form a pouch, transforms into a basket and is the ultimate packaging solution for French fries and all other finger foods. It allows the consumer to eat in the most convenient way, whether he is sitting at a table, walking, in a car, or sharing with his friends. The Magic Bag provides superior heat-retention keeping the food warmer and crispier throughout consumption.
With its tailored design, the PleatPak and Magic Bag use less material in their construction than competitive products. GreenDustries claims to have one of the smallest carbon footprints for on-the-go food packaging. The products are made using 100% recycled paper.
Patakukkonen from Finland
The packaging is simply Stora Enso CKB 320g paperboard, with no special print effects, just digitally printed. And still when you take a close look it is a beautiful and very effective design with its old-fashioned black plastic pot.
Patakukkonen is a Finnish traditional oven baked kukko (fish or vegetable pie/pastry) made from organic rye and other regional ingredients. Made in Hämeenlinna, Finland it is ideal for snacks, lunch and as an appetizer.
It is a brand typically exploring classic Finnish foods and attempting to develop unique and modern consumer experiences. Design bureau PackLab’s biggest challenge was the diverse environments the product had to work in. The packaging had to work in low café counter refrigerators, convenience high standing door refrigerators, standard food retailing refrigerators and even promotion refrigerators found in expensive boutique food halls and airport luxury food stores for example.
The Press-Lok closure
Not quite a snacking product, but even with little fantasy you can see the possibilities for this packaging in this consumer segment.
Lundberg Family Farms, a US organic foods company, integrated the new Press-Lok closure technology from Velcro Industries into its new packaging designs for its Eco-Farmed rice.
Lundberg Family Farms is the first US food company to use this technology in its packaging.
Velcro’s Press-Lok closure system is a proprietary hook-to-hook technology. The closure is a unique solution in the industry because it contains an easy alignment that allows the hooks to engage without precise line-up, securing closure with great burst strength to maintain the integrity of the packaging.
The Velcro system for flexible packages addresses a number of re-close challenges. The closures are both “touch” and “press” activated, so that the consumer can secure the content of a packaging with reliability and be sure it stays closed. The fasteners work with coated paper and film technologies, and are suited for existing packaging equipment.
Peel Plastics Products Ltd., converted Lundberg Family Farms’ existing lay-down packaging to a flat-bottom stand-up pouch containing the Velcro Industries’ Press-Lok closure.
These were the snacking and lunching options for this month.