Canadian Packaging

Tasteful Packaging Fit for Any Season

By Megan Moffat   

Design & Innovation Sustainability Design Atwood Blend Balzac J.R. Watkins Hand Soap Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO)

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 September 2019 issue.

When it comes to packaging, consumers are always looking for fresh new options to experiment with. I tend to look for what is functional for my lifestyle, but I also crave aesthetically pleasing designs and graphics. As the fall season approaches I decided to purchase my usual grocery list essentials, but with unique brands I’ve only recently stumbled upon. Each packaging option offers bold colors, eco-friendly materials, and playful designs that enticed me to give them all a try.

With a recent subtle design change, the venerable J.R. Watkins Hand Soap brand still boasts the same high-quality ingredients from natural sources. The main difference between the new label design is that the vintage typography and subtle art deco graphics are now front and center. The peachy splash of color showcases the whimsical, yet simple geometric shapes and stylized lines to create a nostalgic look. Vintage-themed packaging is always popular among customers as it not only reflects on past cultures and memories, but these designs tell a story of tradition. J.R. Watkins has been producing quality products since 1868, so it’s natural for the brand’s identity to be steeped in history, as vintage packaging designs are exceptionally effective at communicating authenticity to the consumer. By having the J.R. Watkins typography positioned front and center, consumers can instinctively trust the product over modern minimalist designs throughout the personal care isle. Despite the brand’s age, J.R. Watkins still makes an important connection with modern consumers, using a bottle made from 25-percent PCR (post-consumed recycled plastic), while also adhering to cruelty-free product testing. With the product also free of any harmful ingredients like parabens, dyes, phthalates, and formaldehyde, the J.R. Watkins hand soap is not only non-toxic and safer for consumers, but ultimately the environment as well.

As a French Press die-hard, I’m always looking for unique bags of coffee to enjoy with my partner. Balzac’s “Atwood Blend” is packaged in a brown paper bag with a pair of chickadees snuggling up on a branch with floral buds in bloom. The graphic itself is delightful and inviting with the muted blue backdrop and spring accents. Artful and organic, the packaging reflects Balzac’s brand and noble cause that proceeds from your purchase are going towards. One of the world’s most prolific authors, Margaret Atwood is a Canadian treasure and also a bird lover. As Balzac’s mentions, her deep commitment to the environment and concern for avian ecosystems helped create this special blend to raise funds and awareness for Canada’s Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO), which is a non-profit organization devoted to the study and conservation of migratory birds. As for that Organic and Bird Friendly certification stamps on the bag, this particular blend is roasted in small batches, which reduces energy consumption up to 80 per cent, compared to a conventional roaster. All in all, the end result of your purchase is just as smooth and satisfying as the coffee is!


Gourmet du Village has a line of dips unlike any other brand I’ve come across. Packaged in a slim paper envelope, the unique packaging design instantly creates interest and intrigue. The large watercolor drawing of the bright red bell pepper is tantalizing for legions of consumers to tend to eat with their eyes. It wasn’t until I picked up the envelope that I realized it opened like a recipe book. With two recipes listed, consumers have the choice of making a hummus or traditional vegetable dip with this dip mix, where all that’s required are kitchen basics for this cupboard staple. A small cut-out in the packaging also allows consumers to get a peak at the contents of this dip mix. With all-natural blends of herbs and spices you can actually see, Gourmet du Village’s unique recipe-box-in-disguise packaging makes serving guests effortless and convenient, without any quality shortcuts.

Megan Moffat is a freelance writer and film critic based in Toronto.


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