A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Brent Rudland, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the September 2018 issue.
September 24, 2018
by Brent Rudland
A summer ago, I decided to leave my fledgling Bay Street career in finance and return to university to get a bachelor’s degree in education, with the intention of becoming a certified teacher. Having chosen to take my courses at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ont., and needing a place to stay, I decided to give residence a chance. Needless to say, there were some lifestyle changes to get used to. Downsized from having my own apartment with unlimited cupboard space to sharing a kitchen with three other roommates, maximizing all available kitchen space and cooking time became a collective endeavor in self-discipline. One of the ways we managed to do this in a first year was by cooking a lot of pre-cooked portioned packaged products that could be prepared in the microwave within a few minutes. While some nutritionists may recoil in horror at the thought, consuming these quick-portioned meals enabled us to get to class and to our intramural basketball tournaments on time and sufficiently nourished for the tasks ahead. In the process, we saved valuable fridge space, as well as potential food waste, by not having leftovers sitting around in the fridge for weeks at a time.
One of my favorite go-to portioned microwavable products is the Minute Rice two-packs of 125-gram cups, which takes up virtually no space and can be stored anywhere. With the iconic brand owned in Canada by the venerable Montreal-based pasta stalwart Catelli Foods Corporation, the feelgood factor of ‘Buying Canadian’ is proverbial icing on the cake when enjoying the brand’s Basmati Rice and the newly-released White & Red Quinoa, which comes ready to eat hot or cold. To prepare the serving, pull the film to remove the contents from the from the cup and microwave on high for a minute, or 90 seconds for two cups. Simplicity itself, the packages typically come with additional coupons or interesting recipe ideas revealed inside the paperboard sleeve nesting the two tasty single-servings.
Another product helping to make my student life more convenient is the and reasonably healthy is the 310-gram stand-up pouch of Nature Valley Protein Granola bar oats—most notably the Cranberry Almond flavor. Produced by General Mills Canada Corp., this versatile product can be consumed as a snack between classes, or a quick breakfast along with some yogurt or cottage cheese. The sturdy plastic film packaging is wrapped very tightly around the granola bits, making it very space-efficient and stable to stand upright long after opening, and the graduating greens are a perfect color pick to project the product’s all-natural credentials—accentuated with the generous see-through clear cutout window on the front to let the wholesome oats and added ingredients inside speak for themselves.
Pasta can be a real lifesaver for any student short of time and extra disposable cash. Aside from being easy to prepare, it is also exceptionally nourishing, filling and, when packaged right, easy to store in confined storage spaces. In this light, the 300-gram boxes of Catelli Protein Spaghettini have quickly become of one my favorite pasta dishes that I intend to stay loyal to after my student days are over. Made by Catelli Foods Corporation with all-natural vegan ingredients and clearly labeled with the vaunted Non-GMO Project certification as a verified declaration of absence of any genetically-modified ingredients, the products is generously packed with extra protein and iron you will never find in the traditional white pasta, being derived from 100-precent Canadian wheat and fava beans. While the box itself looks like standard packaging fare at first glance, it actually contains a lot of useful nutritional information displayed in logical and coherent graphic layout, further enhanced with an enticing photograph of a finished cooked product on the front panel and a short-and-sweet product story on the back, flourished with soothing images of the natural ingredients used to make the product. Just add a little tomato sauce and some vegetables, and I’m happier than Popeye with a can of spinach.
One of the amazing benefits of being a student is that you get a nice chunk of time off in the summer. While taking advantage of this break with a summer detour to Niagara-On-The-Lake, I could not resist a visit to the flagship store of Greaves Jams & Marmalades, a venerable producer of all-natural pure jams, jellies, marmalades and other spreads made in the heart of Niagara’s fruit belt with locally-sourced ingredients. Established in 1927, the shop is one of the quaint town’s many popular tourist attractions, and after spending a little time there I could see why. By the time I was done, I had gladly splurged on two 250-ml glass jars of the company’s flaghip Greaves brand family’s Pure Peach Marmalade and Peach Chutney products, along with a 250-ml jar of their own unique brand of Greaves Relish. The company’s products also come in a 500-ml glass jars, topped with black or illustrated screw lug tin lids, with both sizes sharing the classic artisan look and feel one might find at a British market in Yorkshire or Suffolk. The high-impact label wraparound paper label features a beautiful graphic reproduction of a vine-leafed reef surrounding a bundle of fresh fruit to project a wholesome, heartwarming vibe to reassure consumers that they are in for a real treat with this premium product, which also makes a terrific and thoughtful gift for family and friends alike, as well as a worthy luxury addition to my limited cupboard space in the residence kitchen.
Brent Rudland is currently completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the Nippissing University in North Bay, Ont.