Thursday, September 17, 2015

Highlights from the Dairy Show. Packaging Sells Our Beautiful Nutrient-Packed—Delicious—Product!

Today is the last day of the International Dairy Show. Today’s blog sponsor—Double H Plastics—is exhibiting at booth 8222. Double H Plastics also sponsored the Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE! presentation on Tuesday, which was on the topic of Innovations in Refrigerated and Frozen Dairy Desserts. You can view the presentation HERE. If you are still at the show, please stop by their booth and thank them for supporting the Daily Dose of Dairy

It was wonderful to see so many Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers this week at the International Dairy Show. Thank you so much for attending the LIVE! presentations and for your positive feedback.

As was apparent by the many product prototypes and packaging innovations on the expo floor, the way consumers buy and use food is shifting. This includes all dairy foods.

Dramatic changes in demographics, lifestyles and eating patterns are creating new opportunities for food and beverage packaging, as well as the product that goes into that package. Among the demographic mega-trends feeding into package development are changing population distribution, fewer married couples and more people living alone, smaller household size and multi-generational households, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report “Food and Beverage Packaging Innovation in the U.S.: Consumer Perspectives.” (For more information on the report, link HERE.)

Two weeks ago, at the U.S. Dairy Export Council’s U.S. Dairy Innovation Conference in Boise, Idaho, Dairy Management Inc.’s (DMI) Senior Vice President of Insights Lynn Stachura explained to attendees how today’s consumer relies on graphics instead of text to communicate.
“We communicate visually more than with words,” she said. Just think about all the infographics that are everywhere today.

This visual communication was very apparent by the many packaging innovations at the Dairy Show. Today’s consumers are drawn to bold, clean colors and real-life photography on everything from ice cream cartons to milk bottles. Clear packaging is also a draw with certain foods—think fruit and yogurt parfaits and cheese spreads with inclusions—as this packaging clearly communicates what’s inside.

Interestingly, with increased use of QR codes on packages, many marketers are reducing the amount of text on packages and improving visual quality. With QR codes, consumers use their smart phones to get information about the product…how it’s made, the company’s business philosophy, where the ingredients come from, etc.

Marketers are finding clever approaches to communicate important single-word product descriptors to consumers without cluttering the package. For example, skirt printing is the technology that allows for text on composite lids, such as those used on ice cream lids. There’s also technology to write on the inside of the lids, so that when consumers remove it, they can read more about the product and its origins. This is storytelling at its finest.

In the Packaged Facts report, a number of key trends shaping food and beverage packaging are identified. Many of these trends were showcased in package concepts on display at the Dairy Show.

These include:
Targeting Millennials: While Millennials may seem like a broad and amorphous target, numerous studies show there are some commonalities. Millennials like fresh, less processed foods, as demonstrated by their preference for “fast casual restaurants that offer freshly prepared foods, and shopping the perimeter of grocery stores where fresh and non-packaged foods can be found.”

Smaller Packages are a Big Trend in Packaging: With one- or two-person households representing 61% of all U.S. households, packages sized to serve one or two people have become a big trend in packaging. Such formats include single-serve packaging, meals for two, multi-packs of individual portions and resealable packaging. The rise in smaller-footprint stores is also influencing this trend.

Packaging for Convenience: Convenience is a major selling point for food and beverage packaging. Features such as ease of opening, resealability, portability, lighter weight and no-mess dispensing are packaging benefits that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions positively.

What could be more convenient than a portion-controlled serving of decadent ice cream in a container that has a spoon attached in the lid?

See-Thru Packaging Can Boost Sales: More and more marketers are putting their products in packages that are see-thru or have see-thru windows. Transparency in packaging taps into consumer desire for transparency about how food and beverages are produced, both figuratively and literally. Companies that are transparent about their ingredients, sourcing and business practices are reaping the benefits in consumer goodwill and trust.

See-thru packaging in the dairy category is increasingly happening in the pouch format—an emerging package with many adaptations—including merchandising units that ease restocking resources. That’s right, retailers are seeking labor savings while brand owners want shelf appearance.

According to DMI’s Lynn Stachura, today’s consumers are increasingly focused on more intimate relationships with brands and companies.

The QR codes and lid printing can help tell a story,
as can merchandising units.

A patented unit showcased at the Dairy Show reduces the time required to stock shelves by 60%. It’s described as a retail-ready pack and allows for pouch products to be merchandised in the unit…no peg or shelf separator required. The merchandising unit allows for additional branding for the marketer, while assisting the retailer with stock rotation.

On the fluid side, oh my, microwave pasteurization technology has arrived. I can honestly say that few technologies make me stop in my tracks…and this is one of them. For more information, link HERE.

The new—and only (very recently) FDA-approved--aseptic carton bottle for white milk is here. First introduced in Europe in 2011, this package brings new functionality along with environmental, technological and cost benefits previously never available in the U.S. dairy beverage industry, allowing producers to deliver shelf-safe milk in a disruptive, attention-grabbing new package.

With that said, if you are still at the Dairy Show on Friday, please plan to attend the 10:00am Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE! presentation on Innovations in Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages. In my opinion, this is the most under-developed segment in the U.S. dairy foods market. It’s no wonder retail fluid milk sales are down. I understand if you cannot attend because you are already homeward bound at that time, but please, please open the link to the presentation and get inspired.

Safe travels home! (By the way, while I write this from my Chicago-based home office, I am seeing lightening across the sky. I am super sorry for many of your travel delays.)

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