Food and Beverage Packaging In the Clear

Transparency gives bottles and jars a boost as processors push for greater product visibility.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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Beech Nut GroupTransparent packaging is at the top of the wish list for food and beverage companies that sell their products in bottles or jars, particularly those wishing to convey attributes like freshness, close-to-homemade flavor and premium quality.

“A trend that we’re seeing is a lot more transparency in packaging design to cue freshness [and] allow the consumers to see more of the product,” says Lisa Baer, senior director of market innovation at Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions, a division of Havi Global Solutions, Downers Grove, Ill.

In focus groups and other research, “Consumers talk about wanting to see the product, wanting to check it, wanting to trust the ingredients," she adds. "If they can see it, there’s a higher trust factor.”

One of the best recent examples of the transparency trend comes from Morton Salt Inc., Chicago, which recently launched Morton Grinders. The product comes in three varieties — Sea Salt, Black Peppercorn and Roasted Garlic with Sea Salt — and the package is a jar with a built-in grinder.

A full-body shrink label displaying brand and product identification is designed to be removed when consumers are ready to start using the product. A perforated strip running vertically down the back of the label makes discarding it fast and easy.

Sans label, the package is the essence of simplicity: a colorless glass jar with a slim, ergonomic shape. The stylish package provides a 360-degree, top-to-bottom view of the seasonings, which are attractive in their own right. The presentation lets consumers know the brand has nothing to hide.

Topping off the package is an unobtrusive grinder. The grinder fitment is white for the salt product and black for the peppercorn and garlic grinders. In all cases, a round, snap-fit overcap protects the grinder mechanism when not in use.

“As interest in the culinary world continues to grow, and as kitchens become more upscale, we saw an opportunity to offer consumers a more contemporary grinder product that really adds to their culinary experience in their kitchens, and it also adds to their décor,” says Denise Lauer, director of communications and brand strategy at Morton Salt.

“We’re seeing this opportunity to add something into the kitchen that’s both functional and fashionable,” she adds, noting that after the label is removed the “grinder bottles sort of blend into your kitchen décor.”

The Morton name and iconic salt-girl logo are debossed into the overcap, and this is the only branding that remains on the package after the label is removed. “It’s a more subtle brand approach that complements the design of the overall product structure, we believe,” says Lauer.

The clarity and weight of the glass jar adds to the premium look and feel of the product; Morton has sold grinder-style packages before, but Morton Grinders are its first made of glass. The package’s transparency also differentiates the offering from other salt packages, including cartons, tubes and even other grinders.

“The Morton salt grinder package embodies [several] of the trends we’re seeing,” notes Baer, including not only transparency but also product/packaging elevation. The latter refers to elevating the experience of a product by using a package that is more than simply functional.

The grinder provides “a great interactive element. This innovative closure that is really a grinder allows consumers to interact with the product in a new way, and the overall structural and graphic design has elevated this to be elegant enough to put on your dinner table [or] on your stove,” Baer explains.

TricorBraun, Oak Brook, Ill., designed the Morton Grinders package structure. Akimbo Group, Chicago, created the package graphics.

‘What you see is what you get’

Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., Amsterdam, N.Y., opted for maximum transparency when developing a package for its new 100% Natural line of baby food.

The category-disrupting glass jar has a rounded bottom and is decorated with a transparent pressure-sensitive label with minimal graphics. Owens-Illinois Inc. (O-I), Perrysburg, Ohio, designed the custom jar.

“The simplest way to describe the new Beech-Nut line is, ‘What you see is what you get,’” says Andy Dahlen, vice president of marketing and sales. “The line is the closest to homemade, using just real, whole fruits and vegetables and nothing else. The clear jar design is symbolic in the sense that we have a transparent approach in everything that we do. I'd describe this new line as simple, real, fresh and flavorful.”

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