Claire Phoenix is FoodBev Media managing editor – magazines. This is a personal blog and views expressed are her own.

1 Mar 2013 (Updated 7 Mar 2013)

Pick of the packs from Packaging Innovations 2013

The mood was buoyant at Packaging Innovations at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday, with plenty of visitors and everyone looking cheerful. What a contrast to a year ago.

I started by attending one of the 'learn shops' on structural packaging. Stergios Bititsios of MMR Research explained how the shape of a pack has an impact that extends well beyond the supermarket; it creates a memory and the design helps define this; it’s how we identify brands rapidly from the ‘visual pollution’ as he labelled it of brands on shelf.

He showed us a few car grilles. It’s amazing how easy it is to recognise the car brand even when shown a model from the 60s and present day.

We then spent a few minutes on the Luxe Pack stand with creative services director Steve McAdam, and learnt some astounding facts about the size of this operation. It employs 18,000 people in the Far East, has 80,000 pieces of equipment, is known best for its luxury work for brown and white spirits, and has a new supply chain focus targeting end-to-end product delivery.

A new idea was a premium spirits pack that doubles as an ice cooler thanks to a plastic layer within the box.

Phil Clarke on the Denny Bros stand confirmed my views that promotional labelling is where a lot of business lies right now. The Fix a Form leaflet can be used to show a full range, give a unique random number that links online to prizes, or show a range of recipe ideas (with the Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup, for instance).

Patricia Giroud of Ceisa Packaging was keen to talk to me about its ultra-lightweight stretch films for multipack, that shrink down to 25 Mu – with no keyhole and so a more rigid pack that is easy to transport.

We talked about the growing popularity of GreenCore, its 20% plant-based film offering a low carbon footprint and using wheat waste – not the part we eat.

On the Hewlett Packard stand, Julia Cole and Ralph Bates talked about all that the Indigo high-speed presses can do in the move towards digital printing, and ‘mass customisation’ with people able to have their names on Heineken bottles and cans, and people sending in photos of their children to have on their Kleenex packs.

The buzz words for them are:

  • Time to market
  • Saving waste
  • Mass customisation.

Around 15% of their print is digital at present, but it’s growing fast. HP works closely with label manufacturers Label Apeel and Amberley Labels, who were also at the show.

The newest innovation to take away from the show for me was the ‘Take it easy Snack Bag’ from Weber Verpackungen. The paper and cellophane show off the burger and keep it clean until you're ready to eat, then it separates as soon as you're ready to eat via the neat, perforated strip.

FFP Packaging Solutions has just completed a big order of ‘Fishmonger Oven Bake in the Bag’ bags for Morrisons. It seems we are all short of time and the idea of just popping fish into the oven ready to cook without even touching it is key to adding value.

And the one that made me smile? It has to be Electro – a sports cap bottle of nutritionally hydrating and saline water for horses from BlueFrog Packaging. I’ve heard the money is in pet food, but now I’m certain!