Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
The Final Proof: August September 2011


August 18, 2011
By Jane Dummer RD

Topics

A great design, the sustainability factor, longer shelf life and convenience continue to affect the packages we are seeing in the baking industry.

A great design, the sustainability factor, longer shelf life and convenience continue to affect the packages we are seeing in the baking industry.

Winning packaging isn’t just about being pretty. Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in their personal impact on the environment and are demanding more from manufacturers.

“Consumers want to know what it means when a package is ‘sustainable’ and they are looking for clarity around the ‘green’ messaging from manufacturers,” says Carol Zweep, manager of Packaging & Nutrition Labelling Services at the Guelph Food Technology Centre. “The consumer is requesting information to understand that when these disposed packages end up in their local regional recycling sites, the appropriate environments are in place for the ‘biodegradable’ package materials to degrade and no unwanted gases go back into the environment.”

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In addition to sustainability, Zweep is observing two other trends with package design in baking. One is extending shelf life and the other is convenience for the consumer. I discussed Canada Bread’s Oven Ready Rosemary and Olive Oil baguettes being sold in a modified atmosphere packages in my Final Proof column in March called “A Walk on the Savoury Side.” This type of packaging has both the shelf life (60 days) and convenience factor (cook it in eight minutes), which supports Zweep’s remark about the trends.

Manoucher Bread, a Toronto-based speciality food company is another leader in the baking industry that is offering consumers convenience through packaging.

“We have a unique package for our product, which was originally designed for the airline industry,” Tamara Mendiola of Manoucher explains. “The packaging marries functionality and ease of use for the crew to employ with the limited space and equipment in an airplane servery. Airlines applauded it, and now that we have introduced it to our retail customers, they love it too.”

“The packaging consists of oven safe trays and film,” describes Mendiola. “The breads stay fresh in the freezer for up to 11 months and can be warmed in the oven in the package directly from the frozen state. What our customers like the most is the fact that they are able to save a great deal of time. You don’t have to make a trip to the grocery store every time you need some quality bread. Our bread will be fresh, soft, warm and delicious, two minutes after you take it out from the oven. It is really easy to handle. Three of our ‘Classic Loaves’ come pre-sliced into six perfect size pieces, so they allow you to create personalized, individual pizzas and sandwiches, giving our consumers variety and convenience at the same time.”

So how does the package portion size factor fit into the trend equation? As the size of food packaging has steadily increased over the past 30 years in North American, researchers suggest this could be an important factor contributing to higher energy intake and increased rates of overweight and obese people. The food industry, including baking, has responded to this issue by introducing single serving packaged portions of many different foods, including snack foods. Not only are baked products pre-portioned and sliced, but also the 100-calorie packs of cookies and crackers have gained popularity with consumers and are now available from many companies. Does this package design help consumers reduce their daily food intake? To date, there is still limited, conclusive research that has investigated the impact of these pre-portioned foods on energy intake and total daily consumption among the North American population.

Expect plenty of discussions to continue about the many sustainable shades of green in the packaging industry. Along with new ways of increasing shelf life while maintaining food safety, giving the consumer a fresh, high-quality product will continue to be at the top of the trend list. Health issues, such as lifestyle diseases (obesity and type 2 diabetes) promote consumers to seek out smaller portions and packages. All of these factors increase the demand for innovative package design and clear consumer messaging about those packages.


Jane Dummer, RD, is a leading dietitian for the Canadian food and nutrition industry. Jane offers services specializing in agri-food, functional foods and food safety. For more information, visit www.janedummer.com.


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