Unravelling the Wrapping of Sweet Treats

23 July 2009 (Last Updated July 23rd, 2009 18:30)

Packagers of confectionary products need to combine award-winning designs with less material and customer satisfaction. Russell Hicks reports on the challenges the industry is facing.

Unravelling the Wrapping of Sweet Treats

Tight and twistable wrapping, luxury designs and minimal use of packaging materials are just some of the challenges that confectionary packaging firms face in today's competitive market.

Holiday seasons are associated with gift-packs of food, which require a needless amount of packaging and none more so than Easter. It seems, however, that the packaging excesses that used to dominate these occasions may soon be something of the past.

British chocolate company Thorntons committed to cutting its Easter egg product packaging by 22% this year, with the help of Boxed Prestige. The 2009 Easter egg models featured lower caliper but stronger board. The cartons were manufactured using a white-backed board, printed in up to seven colours and with spot gloss, emboss/blocking and window patching techniques to give the eggs added "shelf-appeal".

Boxes Prestige sales manager Jon Basford says that the weight reduction meant labourious testing to make sure the packaging remained robust. "We have plenty of experience in this area and the trials we ran helped us find a good combination of lower caliper boards that were structurally sound," Basford says.

"Thorntons committed to cutting its Easter egg product packaging by 22% this year."

Three years ago, Robert Herridge founded a company called Packology to examine supplier's packaging issues in full. Herridge believes, however, that cutting the weight of the packaging can lead to more damaged goods – and more waste in the long run. "There have been times where we've advised a client to redesign their packaging to make it more robust, which might seem like an additional cost and a greater [negative] environmental impact, but they soon see fewer customers returning damaged packaging, so a solution like this has a long-term financial and environmental benefit," Herridge says.

Picking up the prize

One product that has achieved the enviable position of being environmentally friendly and popular with consumers is Sainsbury's Taste the Difference fudge range, which has won a UK cartonboard packaging award.

Carton producer Benson Group achieved a soft-to-the-touch feel to the carton by combining a contemporary flat-matt look with a new type of aqueous coating. The overall tactile effect comes from the novel materials in the formulation, and the unusual friction characteristics they impart.

Design agency Parker Williams' co-founder Tamara Williams says that the luxury aspect of the product had to be reflected in the feel and the colouring of the packaging. "We wanted to use the graphics on the carton to enhance the beautiful structural shape created by the lid, with the jewel-like colours showing through, and as it opens to reveal the full intensity of colour and the treat of the fudge inside. The luxurious feel of the soft touch ink, as you pick up the pack, suggests the smoothness of the fudge itself and the graphic flourish makes it suitable for all year round treats and gifting," Williams says.

"For carton producers seeking to add that extra special finish, the world of lamination continues to offer new options."

Twist and shout

Eastern European manufacturer of flexible packaging materials, Ukrplastic, says that it has something to shout about with the launch of its Twispan film, a twist film for various types of confectionery. Manufactured from polymer granules and inks, the finished flexible film is certified by the Polish Packaging Research and Development Centre for safety for food contact in accordance with EU directives.

Designed to be used for wrapping irregular-shaped confectionery, the company says that the films have high twist retention. The decorative films are available in white and metallised finishes, in 30 and 35 micron thicknesses.

For carton producers seeking to add that extra special finish, the world of lamination continues to offer new options. Reflections, the largest trade finishing specialist in the south-east of the UK, offers in excess of 25 different film finishes, ranging from standard matt, gloss, silk, satin and semitone, to exotic soft touch, pearlescent and textured finishes. A recent launch even offers a fabric laminated substrate, with this film applied prior to printing.

A version of this article first appeared in our sister publication Packaging Today.