Form and Function Drive Design for Bottle and Jar Packaging

Functional design makes it easier to use, prepare and serve products packaged in bottles and jars.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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Form that enhances function is the new mantra in bottling circles. For food and beverage companies that use bottles and jars, functional design attributes such as gripability, reclosability, on-the-go portability and ease of heating and serving head the list of desirable features.

Changing lifestyles and demographics are fueling the trend. "The increase of independent children and teens living in dual working households, millennials on the go and the aging baby boomer generation all contribute to the need for easy-to-manipulate packaging that safely holds, preserves, protects and dispenses the products," says Paul Tay, food and non-alcoholic beverages marketing manager at O-I (www.o-i.com), Perrysburg, Ohio.

Tay adds, "As our society becomes more mobile and independent, the majority of our food [and] beverage companies are asking for ergonomic glass packaging that is easy to use and resealable, with clean, efficient product dispensing."

For example, Bookbinder Specialties (www.bookbinderspecialties.com), Media, Pa., chose glass jars for its new line of all-natural gourmet vegetable soups. Not only do the packages convey quality but they also provide more functionality than cans or plastic containers.

In focus groups, Bookbinder learned consumers value resealability and portion control in soup packaging. Therefore, for its new soups, which include flavors such as Sweet Burgundy Onion and Butternut Squash & Mushroom, the company chose reclosable 15-oz. glass jars from O-I.

Like cans, the jars offer a wide mouth for easy dispensing of the chunky soups. But in contrast to cans, the jars are compatible with microwave cooking. This saves time and mess, as it's not necessary to transfer the soup to a microwave-safe cooking dish.

Similarly, unused product can be stored in the jar, eliminating the need for a storage container. And the jars are transparent, so consumers can see the product before buying and monitor how much is left in the package while it's in the refrigerator.

TummyTickler gets a grip
In the beverage category, In Zone Brands Inc. (www.inzonebrands.com), Smyrna, Ga., redesigned the packaging for its TummyTickler children's drinks to make the bottle smaller and easier for little hands to grip. The redesign also makes the bottle's shape more like the one used for In Zone's other brands, BellyWashers and TummyTickler Tots.

Tummy Tickler
Zone Brands Inc. redesigned the packaging for its TummyTickler children's drinks to make them easier for little hands to grip and a smaller portion size. (click image to enlarge)

TummyTickler is made for preschool children, and the new 6-oz. TummyTickler bottle (down from 8 oz.) meets the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommended serving size for the target market.

The high-density polyethylene bottle also was made smaller "in response to consumer feedback from moms that the bottle size was too large for [their] children," says Traci Strom, senior manager of public relations and communications at In Zone. "We enhanced the ergonomic grip at the 'waist' of the bottle to better serve small hands."

The brand owner consulted with Goodwin Design Group (www.goodwindesigngroup.com), Wallingford, Pa., to execute the TummyTickler redesign and to revise package graphics across In Zone's product portfolio.

The easier-to-grip feature of the redesigned TummyTickler bottle augments the dispensing functionality that was already built into In Zone's packaging. "Our no-spill, no-mess packaging closures are a central part of our products, as they solve one of the biggest pain points of children's beverages," Strom says, referring to "all the frustration of leaky straws, spurting pouches and sloshing bottles and cups.

"BellyWashers has a mess-free, push-pull sport cap which is convenient for grade-school kids on the go," she continues. "The TummyTickler and TummyTickler Tots spout is a proprietary design. It contains a one-way silicone valve that is truly spill-proof, effectively acting as a sippy cup for younger children transitioning into 'big kid' cups."