A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists.
June 24, 2016
by Elena Langlois
With winter dragging its tail just a little too long for everyone’s patience this year, I recently treated myself to a week-long escape to Cuba, where traditional product packaging is often quite different to what the Western consumer mind normally expects to encounter. Coming across the mustard and ketchup bottles on the tables of the resort’s snack bar provided a timely reminder of the multi-nuanced nature of international consumer packaging. Produced by Lider Aliment, S.A. of Badajos, Spain, the 270-gram plastic squeeze-bottles of Manjares brand of mostaza (mustard) and ketchup (the seemingly universally-accepted name for the stuff ), are fairly familiar in overall packaging shape, with contoured indents facilitating good grippability of the elongated containers, thoughtfully topped off with large white flip-cap closures for dispensing. Upon closer scrutiny though, there are differences of note. Curiously enough, the serving suggestion on the ketchup bottle recommends to serve up the contents as dip in a large bowl with a sprig of basil as garnish. Not something you would see at many kitchens across Canada, at least in my experience. The mustard, it must be mentioned, gets the more traditional graphic treatment of squiggled ribbons served atop hotdogs in white buns, surrounded by fries. Being so used to seeing bilingual packaging on routine daily basis also makes one appreciate the graphic possibilities offered by unilingual packaging, such as the use of a large typeface, more open spacing for product photography, and plenty of room to feature dietary information up front—in this case calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt per 12-gram serving—along with prominent gluten-free and lactose-free declarations.
Getting back into the full swing of things at work and at home post-vacation is challenging, so finding dinner solutions that are both easy and interesting is always a bonus. In this light, big cheers to the Toronto-based Quality Natural Foods Canada Inc. for importing the MTR Ready to Eat prepared foods brand all the way from Bangalore, India. Packaged in delightfully designed boxes featuring the vibrant brand colors of saffron red and turmeric yellow, the brand makes effective use of large-sized product photography to showcase the contents inside each recipe—be it Palak Paneer, Chana Masala or Lemon Rice—and three badges proclaiming the product being made from 100-percent natural ingredients, requiring no preparation, and a three-chili heat rating for easier meal selection right at the grocery aisle. A snap to make by simply tearing open the enclosed 300-gram plastic pouch and pouring the contents into a bowl for microwave cooking—or conversely just boiling the unopened pouch for five minutes and serving it directly onto the dinner plates—these little beauties are a far cry from the bland and tasteless boil-in-bag fare of yesteryear, offering a sumptuous taste sensation in every box.
With summer heat finally upon us, staying hydrated is key to enjoying the season safely—preferably with tasty, portable and user-friendly on-the-go beverages such as the Cool Taste Calamansi fruit-juice drink imported by Fitrite Incorporated from Quezon City in The Philippines. The recyclable 500-ml mylar pouch with pleated top and bottom features a handy drinking spout at the top with a removable cap, with its bright green-and-yellow design and red sashes of color providing an enticing visual reference for the fresh tartness of the calamansi (Philippine lemons) used to make a satisfying, thirst-questing beverage that contains 10-percent real fruit juice. While this packaging format is not very fridge-friendly—having a hard time standing up unsupported on its own on the shelf—the beauty of this reclosableble package lies in the fact that it gets smaller in your purse or bag after each sip—unlike a plastic water bottle or other rigid containers—to make more room for your other stuff.
With laundry being one of those dirty domestic jobs that has to be done sooner or later, the fairly recent explosion of laundry detergent pods and capsules in the marketplace has been by and large a very welcome development for millions of apartment-dwellers spared the burden of dragging big boxes of powder or heavy jugs of liquid detergent around on their trips to the apartment buildings’ common laundry rooms. Unfortunately, these bright-colored, water-soluble pods have reportedly become a real health hazard for children mistaking them for candies, with some very tragic consequences. Part of the problem may be the fact that these capsules are predominantly retailed in easy-to-open plastic stand-up pouches whose standard PTC (press-to-close) closures do not offer as much deterrence or access prevention as their brand-owners manufacturers might have thought they did. In this light, the new Club-sized Sunlight 4 in 1 PowerCore Pacs from Sun Product Canada Corporation—retailing at Big Box outlets like Costco—offer a welcome peace of mind to go along with high-impact packaging savoir-faire. With the plastic container’s faux brushed-steel shrinksleeve exterior resembling the protein-powder megapacks so popular among dedicated weightlifters and bodybuilders—the muscular-looking container is outfitted with a solid reclosable screw-top lid for enhanced product safety, with the Nike-like swoosh of the graphic of the pod inside the rounded square container projecting a confident, action-filled brand image that really means business.
Elena Langlois is a social media consultant and advertising sales professional living in Toronto.