Snack Manufacturers Drive Packaging Innovation

Snack food manufacturers are some of the most innovator packagers. Portion control, convenience and sustainability are driving their changes.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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Three divergent issues — healthy eating, demand for convenience and sustainability — are motivating new ideas for snack food packaging.


Blue Diamond’s almond package was innovative just on looks. But the company added a transparent strip calibrated in 1-oz. increments down the side of the package to teach consumers how much was one full serving of almonds.

The growing number of single-serving, portion control and easy-to-use and -tote packages is the most noticeable shift. On the sustainability front, snack processors are lightweighting their packaging and focusing on wrapper recycling.

In the nut category, Blue Diamond Growers, Sacramento, Calif., is leading the way in packaging innovation. The canister for Blue Diamond Natural Oven Roasted Almonds is portable, offers one-handed opening and has a built-in portion control mechanism.

Describing the development of the package, Blue Diamond Growers marketing manager Maya Brown says, “One of the key drivers was that not a lot of people know how much a serving of nuts is. Typically it’s a handful a day. That’s what drove us to come up with the flip-top lid — you can shake out a handful.”
Further, the package’s full-body shrink label features a transparent, unprinted vertical strip down the side of the package that is calibrated in 1-oz. increments. Consumers can quickly see when they have shaken out one serving, or roughly a handful, of almonds.

Completing the concept, text on the back of the package explains that “a handful of almonds a day is a healthy snacking choice.” In addition to standard nutritional data, percentages of micronutrients such as selenium and copper are included in the Nutrition Facts panel.

Designed to appeal to women, the shapely 8-oz. plastic canister “is an ergonomic package with an hourglass shape designed to fit a woman’s hand,” notes Anna Frolova-Levi, director of marketing at Twinsburg, Ohio-based Weatherchem Corp. The dome-shaped closure, supplied by Weatherchem, extends the curved profile of the container. The shrink label extends over the lid, providing tamper-evidence.

Also with an eye to portion control, Blue Diamond Growers has introduced a 100-calorie bag of almonds. Weighing 0.625 oz., the bags are sold in multipacks of seven.

Likewise, Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, has launched a 100-calorie pack for Pringles Reduced Fat Potato Crisps. The primary package is a plastic tub with foil seal; secondary packaging for the eight-packs is a paperboard sleeve. The packaging is structurally similar to that of Pringles Snack Stacks, a product for on-the-go consumers.

Earlier this year, Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas, introduced 100-calorie packs for two new snacks, Lay’s Cracker Crisps and Cheetos Cracker Trax. The company also added single-serving bags to the line-up for its Flat Earth crisps. The Flat Earth bags are sold in five-packs.


For on-the-go and individual-portion snacking, Sara Lee launched Bites, bite-sized portions of its cheesecake. Eaten right out of the freezer, they borrowed packaging from poppable ice cream snacks.

Sweet snacks also are jumping on the portion-control trend, although they are not necessarily packaged as individual servings. In the frozen food category, Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., launched Sara Lee Bites, a bite-sized version of its cheesecake. A “poppable” snack, Each ready-to-eat “bite” has 20 calories.

Designed to be eaten straight from the freezer, the bites are packed in a recloseable, tapered round paperboard tub. Graphics are livelier than those used on the packaging for full-size Sara Lee desserts to position the product as a snack food and to appeal to children as well as adults. The package holds 7.5 oz., or 40 bites.

The convenience aspect

In many instances, snack processors are targeting both portion control and convenience with a single package design. The Blue Diamond canister and the 100-calorie packs, for example, tuck easily into a gym bag, briefcase, backpack or purse, providing convenient, controlled snacking on the go.

Other package designs focus solely on convenience, with an emphasis on portability. Such is the case with the Cheerios on-the-go pack from Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc., which makes it easier to feed snacks to babies and toddlers away from home.

Holding 1.1 oz. of Cheerios, the refillable plastic jar is topped with a closure that has openings of two sizes for easy dispensing. The package, in Cheerios yellow, fits easily in a handbag, diaper bag or stroller and is merchandised in the baby aisle.

For older snackers, P&G has extended its assortment of on-the-go Pringles packages with the Pringles Grab and Go! can, which holds 1.52 oz. of product vs. 6 oz. in the original can.

Convenience also has come to packaging for snack seeds. With an eye to the special requirements of sunflower seed eaters, Spitz International Inc., Medicine Hat, Alberta, has introduced a sunflower seed package that doubles as a spittoon for seed hulls.

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