A year of packaging innovations is behind us. In 2012 I posted 51 articles with 611 pictures about packaging innovation, which brought the archive of this blog to a total of 314 posts.
Apparently the archive is seen important as from the roughly 300,000 visitors (from more than 200 countries worldwide) to my blog, many viewed older articles. Furthermore some 100,000 consulted the packaging dictionary.
As is tradition we have seen a wide range of award ceremonies in the world of packaging. I wrote a critical article (Packaging Awards and the Self-Congratulatory Syndrome) about the lack of technical packaging innovations in most Award Ceremonies. Of course there are exceptions, luckily. I selected 24 packaging innovations, which in my opinion are the remarkable ones of the year 2012.
It is not surprising that developments and innovations in flexible packaging are dominant, as the flexible packaging is (slowly but surely) becoming the number one packaging format in the world. Of the 24 innovations selected by me 12 are flexible.
Let’s make a world tour and start with a Christmas, New Year’s attraction first.
The Peeled Banana Ice Cream
In November a snack bar next to the Musée de Louvre in Paris started selling products in edible packaging from WikiCell Designs. The edible packaging idea claims to be a reaction against the over-packaging of foods, which generates a huge amount of waste.
That concept is the brainchild of Harvard University professor David Edwards and Robert Connelly, who wanted to recreate natural foods such as fruits enclosed in an edible skin.
Ice cream enveloped in an edible skin was another idea. And that brings us to Brazil.
In Brazil Christmas and New Year are celebrated on the beach. Brazil has many a beautiful sandy beach and they are intensely frequented during this season as it is full summer holiday in the south (Rio, São Paulo etc). Ice cream is very popular over here, so Nestlé thought it wise to introduce a special banana ice cream. That sounds nothing special, except that the product is encased in a gelatine layer that can be peeled as a real banana. This is one of the first industrial examples of the edible skin packaging.
We stay in South America for the next innovation.
The Coca-Cola Bag
In July last year I wrote about the introduction of the Coca-Cola bag in El Salvador. Some clever chap in El Salvador found the most brilliant answer I have ever seen by offering plastic bags in the form of the iconic Coca-Cola glass bottle, even with its logo.
The internet was rash to call the Coca-Cola Bag a hoax, but all comments missed the point.
What is the case. In almost every Latin America country, the Philippines and Indonesia, and without doubt in many other low-income countries, it is common practice to pour soft drinks of any brand, and even beer for that matter, in a simple plastic bag the moment you buy it at a vendors stall or kiosk. I live in the north of Brazil and I haven’t seen anything else in the twenty years I am here.
The reason is simple. The vendor of soft drinks has to secure his glass bottle against all odds. Charging a refund (whatever the value) doesn’t help him, as the distributor of soft drinks wants to see empty bottles. He will replenish the vendor’s stock only in relation to the number of empty bottles he trades-in. No empty bottles means: no replenishment with full bottles. An eye for an eye is translated into an empty one for a full one.
Street vendors, street stalls and kiosks all over the world found the solution for the glass bottle, which they couldn’t let taken away by the consumer. They introduced the plastic bag, and unanimously and without question, the moment you buy a bottle of soft drink, they pour the soft drink into a plastic bag, stick a straw in and hand it over to you.
The problem for the drinks company however is that with the plain plastic bag the brand name disappears. The consumer is walking away with an anonymous soft drink. That’s why this is such a clever idea, as the bag in the shape of a Coke bottle keeps the brand image alive.
For more info read my article: The Coca-Cola Bag
We continue our world tour and end up in Mexico where we found the Mixpack.
Dual-Chamber Stand-Up Pouch: Mixpack
Last year I wrote several articles about dispensing caps for plastic or glass bottles. The advantages of storing ingredients separately are, I presume, well known. The most obvious one is the improvement of the shelf life of mixed products that are not stable or deteriorate rapidly. I foresaw the introduction of similar systems for the flexible packaging, as it is becoming one of the most important packaging formats. And here we are in Mexico where Simonalbag S.A., in cooperation with DuPont, patented the Mixpack.
The Mixpack is a flexible multi-layer stand-up pouch with an intermediate seal which forms two compartments. Each compartment can hold a powder and liquid separately and be mixed just when it is consumed. The intermediate seal is designed in such a way that with little manual force it can be broken allowing the contents to mix.
For a video about the manufacturing of the pouches click here.
The dual-chamber flexible pouch seems to be the development of the year. We will have a look at another one and jump to Belgium, where ScaldoPack introduced a remarkable development in the self-heating/self-cooling segment of the market.
ScaldoPack Self-Heating/Self-Cooling Pouch
I wrote about this innovation last month. Scaldopack’s innovative self-heating (quicklime) for liquid food and beverages has a flexible twist. Although not the first one to try-out a self-heating flexible packaging, ScaldoPack certainly is the first one that comes to market with it.
The product consists out of a “pouch-in-a-pouch-concept”. The inner pouch serves as the reaction chamber while the outer pouch carries the consumable product.
The consumable product can be heated by pressing the reaction chamber. By doing so, the exothermic reaction is activated, adding 35°C in about 5 minutes to a 200ml consumable product.
The company claims that the temperature increase can be adjusted from +5°C up to +40°C, following customer requirements.
As was to be expected the existing manufacturers of self-heating beverage cans expressed their doubts about the viability of a self-heating pouch. Read about it in detail in my article: Self-Heating Packaging Containers – Part 2.
So that’s enough for today, more to come tomorrow. Remember I selected 24 remarkable packaging innovations introduced during 2012, so we still have some to go.
to be continued