Hard to open wrappers have been cited as the largest consumer packaging frustration. How can confectioners make life a little easier without overpaying for elaborate opening features?
Michael Love, category manager for Essentra Packaging, told this site: “With baby boomers coming up to retirement, easy-open and resealable packaging is really key. It’s also about portion control and on-the-go snacking.”
Essentra Packaging conducted a survey of over 500 respondents in late 2012 and found that the greatest consumer frustration with packaging was ‘difficult to open’ wrappers (61%), followed by ‘having to use knives or tools to open’ (57%).
Consequently, packaging suppliers have developed easy-opening features, such as Essentra’s Supastrip Tear Tape, Amcor LaserPerf and Printpack’s Full Access Reseal-It technology
In the UK, Mondelēz put resealable technology on its newly designed Cadbury Dairy Milk, while Nestlé’s KitKat has used an easy-open feature for some time.
Speaking of his firm’s Supastrip Tear Tape, Essentra’s Love said: “It can be applied to flow wrap packaging which is a key growth area for the industry”.
He said that flow wrap was more popular than ever in the confectionery industry because it was far quicker to process.
The Tear Tape feature is supportable on flexible packaging such as polypropylene and polyethylene. The tape itself is made out of polypropylene and goes through the same recycling process as the pack so there is no need for separation.
“You don’t modify machines. You retro-fit an applicator,” said Love. He said that adding the application equipment would not slow existing machines down and said that the cost of the applicators varied, but was “not in the tens of thousands”.
Teresa Tarantino, editor-in-chief of the National Confectioners’ Association publication Candy & Snacks Today, told ConfectioneryNews that easy-open features may be an unnecessary expense: “The stuff that’s out there right now for the most part is offering consumers what they need. I don’t know of a lot of single serve packages that are not easy to open or have not already addressed that issue.”
We asked Essentra how much a flow wrap pack with its easy-open feature would cost compared to one without. “You’re talking fractions of a pence,” said Love. “It’s a nominal amount.”
Essentra also produces TearTape for biscuit packaging that use a horseshoe tab cutter. “It creates a very big starting tab that is very easy for people to see,” said Love.
Resealable features on single-serve bars
Reseal features in confectionery have tended to be exclusive to multi-serve packs such as stand up pouches, which typically use zip locks.
However, Printpack recently filed a patent for Full Access Reseal-It technology, which is designed for single-serve chocolate bars. It works much like the resealing function on baby wipes and was applied to the top of confectionery bar.
“It opens up choice to the consumer. The main reason for adopting it is portion control,” said David Barnes, business development manager UK for Printpack.
It does however up the cost - in some cases doubling it - and the technology has its critics.
“For single-serve items, it’s an added cost that maybe isn’t required that maybe is a little bit overkill,” said Tarantino.
Love said that an alternative to a zip lock or other resealable features for flexible bags was Essentra’s Re:Close Tape. After a package has been opened and folded, the Re:Close Tape keeps the fold in place to preserve the product.
“There’s a lot that it’s up against,” said Love. But he said it was “remarkably cheaper”, continuous and straight forward. Manufacturers can also print messages on the polypropylene tape.