Packaging That Boldly Goes Beyond
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. From the October 2019 issue.
October 25, 2019
by Julie Saunders
While I have nothing against meat products per se, the unfolding boom in substitute meat products is hard, if not impossible, to ignore to dismiss outright. With fried chicken giant KFC reportedly selling out of its recently introduced plant-based “chicken,” many of its fast-food competitors spending millions on promoting their plant-based burger patties and sausages, and the Impossible Burger quickly becoming a bestseller at multiple grocery chains across North America, one feels compelled to figure out what all the hype is about. But it’s not just about the curiosity factor. A recent report from Project Drawdown, an international NGO (non-governmental organization) and coalition of authoritative scholars, scientists and entrepreneurs, estimates that we could lower global greenhouse emissions by as much as 70-per cent by switching to a vegan diet, and by 63 per cent with a switch to vegetarian diet that includes cheese, mil and eggs. Not only would this have a profound impact on the current climate change crisis, the global economy would be a beneficiary of US$1 trillion in annual savings in health-care expenses and lost productivity. With that in mind, our family recently made a conscious decision to start minimizing meat consumption at our home, which led me to discover a whole bunch of exciting new products out in the market place for like-minded consumers.
In terms of immediate shelf impact, the CAULIPOWER Three Cheese Pizza brand from Caulipower, LLC makes a compelling pitch with its clever marketing slogan “Pizza: Your Favourite Vegetable,” practically jumping off the top of the box with black all caps-lettering boldly spread out over top of the photograph of a finished pizza. While the photo itself seems to a little underwhelming, especially with the plain white backdrop of the box itself, the clever wordplay of the brand’s name and the use of a head of cauliflower as a graphic to replace the “O” in “POWER” shows commendable though and imagination by the brand’s package designers, with further reassurance provided by a red-and-white Maple Leaf log denoting the product’s Canadian origins, along with the smaller Gluten-Free certification symbol positioned on the bottom left corner of the box.
For its part, the graphics-rich 300-gram resealable zipper-lock stand-up pouch of Ancient Grains Chik’n Tenders from Sol Cuisine is pure packaging eye-candy featuring appetizing product photography of bite-sized breaded strips sitting next to a dipping bowl filled with a creamy sauce and a slice of fresh lemon. The resealable zipper is a wonderful convenience feature offering consumers an easy storage solution for leftovers, and the nutritional claims in yellow boxes on thin the top-right corner of the tear-away top film layer provides comforting reassurance that the product provides real nutritional value a source of fiber, iron and magnesium. Alas, the backside of the pouch is something of a letdown, where small-print ingredients listed in a white font on yellow background are not very legible when scanning for additional product information in a hurry.
Packaged in a similar stand-up resealable zipper-lock pouch, the meat-free Beefless Ground from Gardein, on the other hand lets itself down with an all-white background that seems to wash out the food photograph on the front panel to make the depicted product look lifeless, desaturated and uninspiring—resembling a serving of granola cereal without the milk. While the orange bar along the top of the package provides handy reference clearly organized information to appeal to its various audiences—vegan, gluten-free, etc.—it also happens to be the part that is thrown away after the first usage, depriving the packaging of its strongest graphic element in the process.
While there is a natural tendency for meatless burgers to masquerade as the real thing on packaging, the Hilary’s Black Rice Burger brand refreshingly relies on honesty and a dash of humor to convey the nature of its ingredients. Instead of being concealed inside buns with dripping toppings and condiments, the unadorned patties are proudly displayed on the distinct turquoise background, along with a whimsical white line illustration of the all ingredients inside the patties and a smiley-face sun graphic to the right of the photo. The presentation has a nice breezy and cheerful feel to it, with my only complaint being the fact that there are only to patties packaged to a box: it would be nice to heave an option to buy these patties in greater quantity.
The Jackfruit Spicy Mexican Shreds from Ecoideas are a wonderful pantry-shelf product that consumers heat up just by boiling in the bag in which the shreds are packaged, or emptying the contents into a frying pan. While Jackfruit may be a somewhat unfamiliar ingredients to many Canadian consumers at this time, the luscious- photograph of filled taco shells on front of the gable-top carton instantly removes any mystery of doubt about how the product is best put to use. Featuring seven different food and environmental certifications along the bottom of the front panel, the 200-gram box on the front of the box makes highly effective use of fiery orange color set against a black background to expect from traditional Mexican cuisine, reinforced with the Wild West-inspired typography used to display the brand name in the upper part of the box.
Minimizing meat doesn’t mean just substituting products that resemble meat. It’s also about adding foods that are satisfyingly hearty, that taste of savory umami, or that give a dish a little extra kick. I found myself quick captivated by Sprague’s Sugarbush Baked Beans packed in a textured glass jar that makes the product easily sand out from among the rows of canned beans in the adjacent shelf-space. Best of all, the wraparound product label advises consumers to remove the lid and bake the product for 30 minutes in the jar itself, making the package a truly multi-functional contraption that is also 100-percent recyclable after a proper rinse when done.