To this end, manufacturers are turning to packaging specialists to come up with novel, shelf-ready packaging solutions that perform well throughout the supply chain.
IFCO Systems, the returnable pallet specialist, collaborated with Delbrouck GmbH, manufacturer of reusable plastic transport containers, to create its prize-winning tray system for bottles of all sizes, which can be used throughout the supply chain and provide the optimum on-shelf display.
The IFCO Dual Tray Pool System offers the beverage industry, as well as beverage wholesalers and retailers, significant economic and logistical advantages over traditional distribution systems for beverage containers in pinolene or cardboard packaging displays, according to IFCO.
It consists of an entire family of trays that can handle all sizes of beverage containers and, as its name suggests, is designed for dual use (ie one side of the tray offers storage for single bottles, while the other side can handle various multipacks – therefore easily facilitating flexible dual loads to and from the retailer).
Bottles remain on the Dual Tray throughout – from filler to shelf – and can be returned directly to the trays if a recycling system is in place. The trays feature several design improvements, such as a neck ring device for individual PET bottles that avoids stress on the closure and prevents carbon dioxide potentially escaping. Tests are being carried out with several retailers, and Rewe stores in Dortmund, the beverage chain Dursti and several Edeka stores, are already deploying the system, which picked up the Logistics Service Award from the German Logistics Association in 2008.
Linpac Packaging has developed a range of High Impact Polystyrene (Hips) systems, which offer ease of shelf loading and better visibility for the product on the shelf. The latest addition to the range – an eight-cavity tray, has already been adopted by two of the UK’s leading supermarkets for their range of prepared prawn cocktails.
“The carrier has been designed to give optimum performance during the shrink-wrapping operation and to offer stability to the packs when transferring them from the back of the store to the shelf,” says Andrew Wilkinson, sales manager – protein, Linpac Packaging. “Using Hips for this product has meant that we can reduce the amount of material required, while retaining the functionality of the product and its visible appeal on the supermarket shelf.”
Drawing on its carton board expertise, Smurfit Kappa created a retail-ready pack for Well Pict European’s new healthy snacks range of ‘You are what you eat’ snack pots in the UK. The two companies worked together to optimise the graphics and position of the packs on-shelf as part of Smurfit Kappa’s ‘Retail Ready’ programme.
“We were initially considering a plain, corrugated product,” says Carol Ford, Pict’s sales & marketing director. “However, Smurfit Kappa’s insightful experience and knowledge of retail-ready packaging opened our eyes to the benefit of a retail-ready approach. The end result is effective product packaging perfect for our target market, and which also ensures product will reach stores in the optimum position.”
According to Smurfit Kappa, retailers are extending the pressure on manufacturers not only to conform to shelf-ready guidelines, but also to ensure their secondary packaging takes full advantage of the opportunity to capture the consumer’s attention. This is a step on from traditional shelf-ready designs that simply aid the transit of product to the shelf, thus improving on-shelf availability. Retail-ready packaging has now moved into a new realm, where brand image is also a critical consideration.
“Shelf-ready packaging is all about getting the product on-shelf as quickly as possible, where retail-ready packaging takes a more holistic approach,” say the guidelines developed by Smurfit Kappa as part of its Retail Ready programme. It goes on to say, “Shelf-ready packaging only covers two elements of the ‘5 Easys’ (easy to open and easy to shelf), whereas retail-ready packaging includes the remaining ‘3 Easys’ (recognise, shop, dispose)”.
A company that’s building on the retail-ready concept and enjoying positive sales results for its recently launched range of red wines is Arcus, the main supplier to the Norwegian Wine & Spirits Monopoly.
Arcus selected 0.33-litre mini cartons with screw caps from Elopak, and chose to debut Elopak’s new multipull device, which sees three small cartons packed in a user-friendly paperboard tray with handle. As the tray has a useful handle, it creates a distinctive appearance on-shelf and provides a perfect carrying pack for picnics and for transporting home.
Each carton holds two glasses of wine and can be easily split from the tray. And from a packaging waste perspective, the system performs well, as only 32g of material is required for the multipull pack solution, compared with 40g per litre for a traditional bag-in-box concept, according to Elopak.
End of line specialist T Freemantle has introduced its new solution for shelf-ready tray packed products, which has already been taken up by Premier Foods Group in the UK. The modular system incorporates a new patent pending tray erecting machine coupled with a product collator and tray loader.
Premier Foods Group is running two shelf-ready tray sizes with two different collations of cartons, though the new system has been designed to incorporate different collation devices and can be used to load products such as aerosols, bottles, cartons, bags or pouches.
The whole system operates within a floor space of less than two square metres, can handle a variety of products, tray shapes and styles, and operates typically at a maximum rate of 125 products per minute.
This article first appeared in Food & Beverage International, December 2008.
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