Canadian Packaging

Clamming Up


August 20, 2009
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor

Perhaps I’ve been a tad too hard on the dear old clamshell packaging.
In past editorials, I’ve ranted of the difficulties I’ve encountered in opening up these items—and justifiably so. Clamshell packages are notoriously difficult to open. But, as I’ve come to learn, that’s the point, actually.
Clamshell packaging protects against possible theft at the store location.
Because a would-be thief is unable to easily rip open one of these packages to steal—let’s say a universal remote control device for a television—shops like Best Buy et al have fewer inventory loses. Sure a thief could simply stuff the item in a pocket or bag and try and walk out with it, but then you’d have to get past the detection devices at the store’s exit. Difficult, but not impossible, but still it is a good theft deterrent.
But isn’t clamshell packaging a design that is more for the seller rather than the consumer? Don’t they care about the poor end-user who has to use a heavy set of scissors to claw open the package?
Yes, they do care. Despite our concerns—and my blow-hard opinion about opening night jitters—the manufacturers do care. Theft affects everyone. When people steal, the bottom line for a company shrinks. That means prices are affected and higher prices for the consumers. See? They do care.
The packaging industry is all about protecting the customer/end-user: from providing shelter against the elements, providing a longer-shelf life, theft, branding, etc. I suppose we could all get our Corn Flakes in an unadorned plastic cup for a lot less money, but would you buy it?
The average consumer has little concept of the costs manufacturers endure to protect them, from x-ray and metal detection equipment, sealers, safety seals, lot and best before coding, caps and much, much more, I have to admit that working in this industry with Canadian Packaging has been an eye-opening experience for me.
The folks over at iRes Technology Corp. (www.irestechnology.com) have a pair of miniature wearable video devices no more than 3.5-inches high that can retain up to seven hours of recording! Awesome. It’s a non-obtrusive way to record a daylong meeting when you are trying to hammer out a new packaging re-design.
Anyhow, I just wanted to apologize to the folks who package and/or manufacture the clamshell. And no… no one is making me do this. I just no longer feel my criticism was warranted.
Somewhere trying to open that clamshell,
Andrew Joseph