The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

When Packaging Innovation Attacks
Brian Hauck, Designer, The Goldstein Group
Brian Hauck

In an industry where change is the norm, thousands of ideas are generated daily… some good, some bad.

A few of these ideas will separate a product from the competition, like the new plastic bottle developed by Pepsi. Sometimes these ideas, similar to what they end up becoming, are just garbage… An example of this would be Del Monte's new individually wrapped banana. These two products could not have been created as a more perfect foil for comparison.

The bottle developed by Pepsi is made from 100% plant waste, and is "indistinguishable," from a traditional petroleum based plastic bottle, claims Rocco Papalia, PepsiCo's senior vice president of advanced research. They plan on launching a limited run of these bottles in 2012, and if it is accepted by the consumer, they will convert their entire line to plant-based plastics. If you'll recall Sun Chips' biodegradable, loud-as-a-Knucklehead bag, adoption by the consumer is not always the case. Even though the Sun Chips' bag was biodegradable, and would have reduced the amount of packaging in landfills, it was so crinkly and loud that it was ultimately rejected. Even if Pepsi's new bottle never sees the light of day, it is at least an example of one company using it's resources to reduce their overall impact on the environment, which we can all agree is a good idea.

As the juxtaposition to this, we have Del Monte's banana wrapper. This time last year, if you were to ask me about a banana wrapper, I would have assumed you were referring to a banana peel. After all, isn't the banana peel nature's perfect little wrapper? But no… the product is an individually wrapped banana, intended to be sold in retail channels not traditionally associated with fresh produce.

According to the UK's Daily Mail Online; "The company claims that the bag contains ‘Controlled Ripening Technology’ – which extends the shelf-life of the banana by up to six days." And in an interview with Forbes' Magazine, Dionysios Christou, Del Monte Fresh Produce’s Vice President of Marketing claims: "The recyclable plastic bag used for single finger CRT bananas replaces the need for the large master bag used with all conventional bananas." Even if this is the case, additional machining and printing are required to individually wrap the product, as opposed to gang wrapping, which requires less energy and resources. And unlike the Pepsi bottle, is this not just an example of using the same kind of thinking to solve a problem that was used to create it? Einstein… anyone? Bueller?

Pepsi was able to reengineer a way to produce the component of their packaging that ended up in a landfill… all Del Monte did was package the same product differently. One is a step in the right direction, and the other is just a step in any direction.

Subjects: Marketing, Consumers, Brands

12 April 2011 16:16

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