Pouches Flex Their Marketing Muscles

Good looking and functional, too, pouches are taking on rigid packaging.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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The stand-up pouch is the new can, jar and bottle. That's the thinking at companies such as Campbell Soup, Heinz and Kraft, which are transforming supermarket shelves and foodservice operations with pouches of all sizes and configurations.

Pouch attributes such as light weight, ease of use, product protection and visual appeal also are attracting smaller processors, for products ranging from fresh fruit to tapenade.

"Go!" time for Campbell Soup
Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., is adding pouches to its packaging lineup for two new product lines, Campbell's Go! Soup and Campbell's Skillet Sauces. The products will launch in the U.S. this summer.

Both products will be packaged in retortable stand-up pouches made from customized, high-barrier laminated materials. The microwavable Go! Soup pouch material is an all-plastic laminate; the Skillet Sauces pouch is made from a plastic/aluminum laminate.

Developed for a single use, the pouches are not resealable. The soup pouch holds 14 oz., and the sauce pouch holds 9 oz.

Campbell Red Pepper Soup
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for an enlarged view

Both structurally and graphically, the Go! Soup pouch will shake things up in the soup aisle and add a new dimension to Campbell's array of products in cans and rigid cups. Because U.S. consumers are not familiar with ready-to-eat soup in a pouch, Campbell will use the package graphics and structure to attract and educate consumers.

"Many of the soup pouches in the marketplace contain dry products that need to be reconstituted," explains John Faulkner, Campbell's director of brand communications. "To help prevent confusing Go! Soup with dry products, we are utilizing a clear gusset on the bottom [of the] pouch to allow consumers to see the wet soup" inside the pouch.

Directions on the back of the soup pouch will explain how to microwave the product, starting with tearing at the notch to vent the package. The pouch material was engineered for linear tearing, which provides clean opening and easy microwave preparation.

The sauce pouch was not designed for microwave cooking but rather for pouring into a skillet and heating with chicken or other protein.

Graphics created for the Go! Soup pouches are quirky and fun, featuring photos of "Millennial" men and women — people in their late teens to early 30s, that is.

With the Go! Soup line, "We are targeting Millennial consumers," Faulkner says. "We know they believe that today's soup choices fail to deliver a convenient, fresh, exciting food experience. As a result, our traditional canned soups are not a part of their eating repertoire."

Faulkner adds that Millennials eat "significantly fewer servings of canned soup each year" than their elders. In the Millennial demographic, "Canned foods are perceived negatively. We need to remove that negative barrier."

This market insight drove the pouch's look and feel, which are so different from those of a soup can. Decorated using reverse-print rotogravure, the pouches will create colorful point-of-purchase billboards when they hits store shelves.

Acknowledging the primacy of smartphones among Millennials, Campbell will print a 2D barcode on the back of each pouch. Scanning the code will bring consumers to a Campbell's website.

Pouch with a spout
Pouches used for multiserving products need be reclosable and, ideally, incorporate a dispensing feature. The new economy-oriented Heinz Ketchup pouch, for example, has a reclosable cap and a spout. To dispense ketchup, the consumer simply removes the cap and squeezes the flexible package.

maison le grand pouches
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The 10-oz. stand-up pouch is decorated with Heinz's familiar graphics. The iconic white shield pops on a ground of red, and a call-out on the front of the pouch assures consumers that the product is the "Same Heinz" with a "Great Low Price." The suggested price for the pouch pack, which launched this spring, is 99 cents.

The company is "leveraging this cost-effective pouch format to make Heinz Ketchup accessible to all consumers," says Tracey Parsons, a spokesperson for H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh. She adds that the pouch is convenient for cooking, because the package contains the equivalent of one cup of ketchup.

Artisanal processor Maison Le Grand (www.maisonlegrand.com), St.-Joseph-du-Lac, Quebec, also chose a pouch with a spout fitment for its products. The company previously used glass jars but switched to custom pouches made of multilayer, high-barrier materials for its pesto, tapenades, aromatic sauce and tzatziki.

In each case, the multilayer material and spout are customized to suit the all-natural, cold-filled products' characteristics, including viscosity and sensitivity to oxygen and light. Flair Flexible Packaging (www.flairpackaging.com), Appleton, Wis., supplies the opaque pouches, which hold 170-200g (6-7 oz.).

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