New Baby Food Packaging Helping Speed Up Company’s Recovery
The 4.5-ounce version will be introduced to the Canadian market this fall.
June 18, 2019
After rising from the ashes of a devastating fire that levelled its production and packaging facility three summers ago, Sanger, Ca.-based Initiative Foods is wasting no time in rebuilding its credentials as one of North America’s leading co-packers of baby foods.
Upon reopening at a new plant in July of 2017, the company worked to regain its marketplace prominence under the leadership of president John Ypma, while also reassessing its overall approach to product packaging.
Ypma wanted to see if it made sense for Initiative Foods to continue packaging its product in glass as before the fire, or to move in another direction.
“We had limited capital after the fire and had to decide whether to invest in glass again or try something new,” Ypma says.
Although Initiative Foods had previously used basic plastic containers in addition to glass, Ypma understood that customers were expecting more advanced and on-trend designs with plastic packaging.
Top criteria included having a design that would stand out; allowed for nesting; be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional; and also allow parents to feed their babies in comfort.
Aesthetics aside, the risk of glass breaking during production and falling into the food concerned Ypma, who envisioned a plastic package that would solve those problems and offer greater portability for on-the-go parents.
The containers for Initiative Foods’ veggies and dinners needed to tolerate the high temperatures and pressurized, super-heated water used in the retort process of sterilizing the food.
Ypma turned to TricorBraun, St. Louis, Mo-headquartered designer and manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging products, to come up with a solution.
While glass is adept at withstanding the hot-fill and retort processes, things get trickier with plastics, according to TricorBraun’s design development manager Marco Serrano.
“One of the values TricorBraun brought to this project is that we understand plastic and both its limitations and opportunities,” says Serrano.
The project grew into a collaborative effort with the client’s other packaging suppliers such as the RPC Group, who supplied the lids and cups.
“There were many intricate measurements in the lid and getting the right snap,” says Ryan Fichuk, TricorBraun’s packaging quality engineer.
TricorBraun and RPC independently checked the parts and data, and then compared results to confirm the lids would perform as expected, so new parents could confidently reseal the package after the initial opening.
With everything clicking into place, Initiative Foods is now using the newly-designed packaging to market is Yummy Organics Line of baby foods available in 16 different varieties.
With the four-ounce cups already retailing in the U.S., the 4.5-ounce version will be introduced to the Canadian market this fall.
As Ypma sums up, “The new plastic containers present themselves as an innovative, differentiated design that offers operational and cost efficiencies, while reducing breakage and meeting consumers’ needs for greater portability and better ergonomics for on-the-go parents.
“While it will be some time before these new containers hit the Canadian store-shelves, responses have been highly positive from early customers, who have found the curvature design to be an attractive, yet practical, alternative to glass.”