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 2017 issue.
October 19, 2017
by Canadian Packaging staff
As summer turns to fall, my mind quickly starts turning to wards preserves—the perfect way to keep enjoying the taste of the sun through the inevitable cold fronts coming our way. And since I’ve not yet tackled my goal of learning how to pickle and preserve the fruits and veggies from my garden myself, I’ve been shopping and stocking my pantry with some real packaged gems for the winter, assembling a fast-growing assortment of different packaging design strategies used by brand-owners to give their products a special competitive edge on the shelves.
One of my favorite pickle jars belongs to the Maille Gherkins with Caramelized Onions brand. It’s an attractive glass jar, gently rounded at the shoulder and tapered at the base, whose lovely gold-and-black lid looks very much a key part of the fine French food product it is. But arguably the best thing about the packaging is the immensely practical pickle retrieval device inside—a perforated plastic tray with a central handle that runs up to the top of the jar. When pulled, it lifts the pickles right up for easy access, with most of the brine instantly draining right back into the jar below. Bravo!
Our own made-in-Canada Strub’s Banderilla Skewers are another product that has really thought through all the intricacies of practical pickle extraction. Ingeniously, the pickled goodies are neatly arranged in vertical orientation on white plastic skewers, ensuring equitable and balanced distribution of the assortment of pickled veggies and an easy way to remove a perfect portion from the jar for immediate enjoyment. The no-nonsense white lid and simple label design instantly bring to mind the simple joys of a summer picnic.
For a private-label product, the PC Splendido La Cucina Italiana Sliced Sun-dried Tomatoes in Seasoned Oil has really raised its packaging game with a distinctive square jar that really stands out from the rest of the nearby, primarily cylindrical jars filling the shelves. I was less enamored, though, with the needlessly oversized wraparound product label that hides the bulk of the contents inside the jar. For all the commendable graphic flourishes designed into the label, I can’t help thinking how much more effective it would be if it was half the size and applied only to the front panel of the container—set against a rich red background of the sun-dried tomatoes inside. As always, bigger is not necessarily always better. Ironically, the PC Peperoncini Piccanti brand uses a noticeably smaller label to accentuate the vivid red glow of the chili peppers inside. While the straightforward typography on the product label nearly gives away the product’s private-label credentials, the use of a beautiful black-and-white photograph taken from a hilltop overlooking a charming old Italian city gives the package a tasteful touch of visual elegance and product authenticity.
For sheer practicality, the wide-mouth jars of Jesse Tree Alla Contadina Artichokes facilitate nice no-fuss access to the delectable contents inside—brilliantly accentuated by a golden-tinted metallic lid—with its narrowish wraparound band label making a simple branding message of goodwill and intent simplicity itself. Likewise, the Jesse Tree Nocellara Sweet Sicilian Olives are similarly packaged in a large wide-mouthed glass jar with an attractive gentle taper. The label design— featuring sans serif font and the deep brown color—projects upscale sophistication, while effectively setting off the jewel tone of the green, neatly-stacked, blemish-free olives inside.
The narrow dimensions of the Aurora Hot Pickled Eggplants in Oil brand, relative to its sizeable height, are not very helpful for extracting the slippery eggplant slices contained within. Moreover, I was surprised that the label didn’t have a more prominent warning for the hot version of the product: the thin red band around the base of the label didn’t readily draw my eye from the multitude of other competing elements of the label design. If there’s one thing I want packaging to tell me, it’s whether a product may be too hot for my taste before cheerfully biting into it.
In contrast, the tall narrow jar housing the Fragata Capers brand only look like they may present some difficulty for extracting its contents. As it turned out, the tiny soft capers were surprisingly easy to fish out with a fork, scoring extra points for the uniquely-shaped slim container deftly decorated with a faux metal wraparound label perfectly positioned around the middle—leaving plenty of room above to admire the tasty little green tidbits inside.
Julie Saunders is a Toronto-based freelance writer specializing in healthcare communications.