Packaging for Organic and Natural Foods

Contemporary package designs displace brown paper and granola-esque graphics.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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Little Duck Organics

As in all parts of the grocery store, organic offerings continue to shape the baby-food aisle. To make sure Little Duck Organics Tiny Fruits, a snack food for kids six months and older, didn't get lost in the shuffle, the brand owner created tongue-in-cheek package graphics and chose a resealable stand-up pouch instead of a rigid package.

The pouch holds one ounce of lightweight freeze-dried fruit, enough for four servings. "It's the perfect fit for a mom on the go, because it's a soft pack. You can easily put it in a diaper bag or purse," says Zak Normandin, chief executive officer and founder of New York-based Little Duck Organics (www.littleduckorganics.com). "With the resealable zip, you don't have to use it all in one serving, [plus] it doesn't take up a lot of space and it has all the same nutritional benefits as fresh fruit."

In addition, Normandin says the pouch "feels nice in your hands. It feels like a quality product, and that's what we want." The pouch material is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is coated on the product-facing side with a Saran polymer that keeps the product fresh. The product line currently comprises four flavors: Apple & Banana, Strawberry & Mango, Blueberry & Apple and Pineapple & Mango.

little duck organic foodsLittle Duck's fun, colorful graphics are central to the brand's persona, and executing them well on the package was essential. To that end, the pouches are printed via rotogravure, a high-quality printing technique, and a spot gloss finish is used on the front of the pouch.

The graphics incorporate a vertical window across the bottom of the pouch. Like TruBee, Little Duck wants consumers to see what they're getting. "We've really made an effort to make sure the end product that's going to the consumer is the best possible quality," Normandin says. "Having a … window on the front speaks to that, and it shows that this is all you're getting in this bag. It's just apples and blueberries, or it's just strawberries and mangoes."

The combination of package structure and graphics enhances Little Duck's differential advantage. Normandin concludes: "There are a lot of different organic products out there, but the way … we're going to differentiate is through the brand and through the packaging."

GoPicnic Brands

The challenge for Chicago-based GoPicnic Brands Inc. (www.gopicnic.com), when it initiated a rebranding and packaging redesign for its on-the-go meals, included many facets. In addition to conveying the products' healthful attributes and the line's all-natural and other special-diet offerings, the packaging needed to communicate to first-time consumers what the product is: a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat boxed meal that requires no preparation.

Go PicnicEach GoPicnic product includes five individually wrapped items, including a protein like sausage, turkey, tuna or peanut butter; a whole-grain item like crackers; a fruit-based product; and a dessert item. Originally designed for airline foodservice operations, the GoPicnic products are sold at retail.

In addition to quickly communicating the GoPicnic product concept, the new package design needed to highlight the products' nutritional qualities and features like "vegan," "kosher" and "gluten-free" (depending on the product). The 14 SKUs in the product line include many all-natural products; among these are the four SKUs in the GoPicnic Gold Star sub-brand, which is sold at Whole Foods Market and other natural-foods stores.

"It's a lot of information to include on the package, but all of it is fairly critical to the consumer's understanding of what the concept is," says Julia Stamberger, GoPicnic's pres//CEO. She adds that the package design's communications architecture had to ensure "that someone who had never encountered the product before understood what it was and how it functioned, so that within a couple seconds the value proposition jumped off the packaging."

To do so, the redesign features high-quality photography of the product's individual items all arranged on a plate. The background is a picnic-inspired gingham print, and text immediately above the food image says "ready-to-eat meal." A banner across the bottom of the carton communicates all-natural and special-diets information, plus nutritional content. An illustrated icon, also on the banner, reads: "5 individually-wrapped delights. 1 complete meal."

The package design "celebrates the brand's wholesomeness through photography and ingredient call-outs and instills confidence through the assurance of calorie control, protein, fiber and the ‘free-ofs' — gluten-free, all-natural, vegan and kosher," explains Yadim Medore, principal of Pure Branding Inc. (www.purebranding.com), Northampton, Mass. Pure Branding was responsible for the research, strategy and execution of the GoPicnic package redesign.

Medore adds that retailer pick-up has been "phenomenal" for the rebranded product line, with distribution through natural-foods stores, conventional grocers, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, drug stores, club stores, specialty retailers and airport stores. "We have never worked with a brand that's been accepted into so many channels simultaneously," he says. "It's incredible."

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