Canadian Packaging

Packaging Hits & Misses – Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit

A personal look at some packaging hits and misses - or maybe simply why things are the way they are.


June 23, 2014
Andrew Joseph

This past weekend my family and I had tacos for dinner, using the Old El Paso brand of Soft Taco Dinner Kit.

The Kit is a lot of bang for the buck, and I must say that it was a very, very tasty meal and I probably should not have eaten eight tacos, but I did.

The kit contains 12 soft tortillas, mild taco sauce and a taco seasoning mix, and all we had to do was add ground beef, grate some cheese, cut up some fresh tomatoes, get some leafy lettuce and gets some mango lime salsa and sour cream – because it only seems like too much when you are actually building the taco.

My wife who purchased the Kit, however, did have a question – or, as she put it, a packaging complaint.

She noted that on the outer packaging, we needed to “remove from package and wrap stack in foil” – this was in reference to the soft tortillas.

Instructions from the Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit.

Instructions from the Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit.

 

As you can see from the photo below, the tortillas are already wrapped in what looks like a metallic foil – but it’s really a plastic flowwrapped pack…

Flexible film pack containing fresh soft tortilla bread from the Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit.

Flexible film pack containing fresh soft tortilla bread from the Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit.

M y wife wanted to know why wouldn’t the folks of Old El Paso not just provide us with packaging that comes with the soft tortillas already wrapped in aluminum foil?

Why should we have to rip open the plastic wrap, throw it out, place the tortillas on aluminum foil wrap we have to supply?

Well… my wife’s misconception of why we have certain packaging was evident here.

While yes, it would be nice if we didn’t have to throw away the plastic wrap that the tortillas came in, but that wrap is actually there for food preservation.

Think about it… this product sits on non-refrigerated grocery store shelves… it’s a bread product… so how come it doesn’t go moldy?

It’s because the package contains some sort of a gas that helps keep the product fresh until such time as it is to be consumed… though I would imagine that it does have a shelf-life on it anyway. For fun, I also came up with:

  • Aluminum foil would tear easily resulting in more product spoilage before it got to the customer;
  • Aluminum foil weighs more and could mean added transportation costs – more fuel, more noxious truck fumes in the air – blah-blah-blah;
  • The foil might actually cost more than the plastic flexible film, which could add to the product’s overall cost

I understand my wife’s concerns… it seems silly that we would use a product that we are just going to throw away, and then need to use a different product to complete the job… it’s so… wasteful…

Then again, so to would be all of the waste involved in spoiled product.

Not only would that mean:

  • family disappointment and the need to get some fast food in a hurry now that the dinner plans are ruined;
  • a rummage through the recycling Blue Box to find that grocery store bill from a week ago;
  • a car trip back to the grocery store and return – more chemicals in the air from you car’s exhaust;
  • gas expenditure;
  • your time must be worth something;
  • and no guarantee that the replacement product you go back to the store for is not spoiled.

Now… I’m not calling flowwrapped plastic film the be-all of food safety… and I certainly have nothing against aluminum foil, but… IN THIS CASE, there is a reason why Old El Paso is seemingly making things more inconvenient for the environment. They aren’t.

They are, in fact, preventing things from being much worse than they could be.

In this case, the Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit is a hit.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph