Food packaging in the world’s most competitive market!

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When we started A Kissing Tree with a plan to introduce bomb tasting organic freeze-dried berry snacks to Hong Kong, we knew we were beating the competition in quality and taste. No hesitation in saying that, all you have to do it taste the difference.

 

But having a business is so much more, there are products out there with amazing packaging and horrible content – we aren’t talking about your ex’s here.

 

Packaging? Hmmm.

  1. It has to stand out from what’s out there right now, shelf differentiation baby
  2. It has to be eco-friendly (this is because we actually give a damn, all you need to do to convince yourself is go to a beach in Lantau Island or watch a Netflix Doc)
  3. It has to have a shelve life of 12+ months

 

What’s the competition looking like? Generic.

 

 

Differentiation

What do you see amongst the five product packaging photos above that can help you stand out on the shelf?

 

  • Transparency. If you never tried freeze-dried fruits before, you were probably not an astronaut, but let me tell you, it is generally not pretty. So, it is completely understandable that these companies are scared to show us their product. Being transparent is being honest, so if you can, try to show the product to you customer before they buy it.

 

  • End-User. If the berries are all coming in ‘resealable bags’ or ‘boxes with bags inside’ you have to ask yourself, does my customer even like this? If the snacks you are eating leave your hands sticky after you dig down into the package, especially in the humid south, it defeats the purpose of freeze-dried fruit snacks which is ultimately conveniencebecause let’s face it, if you wanted to snack on fresh fruits, you could just wash them. Here I am going to assume you wash your hands and fruits. So why not have the packaging in a cup so the berries could be mixed with something else, like yogurt or honey, and eaten with a spoon or directly downed like a shot at a bar. I prefer the latter.

 

Environmental Friendliness

Eww. That’s right. Eww. If you know anything about recycling, another knowledge mountain to hike up, you know all of the five goods pictured above are using mixed material packaging (various combos of paper/plastic/aluminum) – this essentially means they are not recyclable– you should avoid buying mixed-material packaging if you care about the environment (if you are reading this, the chances are you do). I heard all sorts of greenwashing mouthpieces online talk about how it saves space in junk yards and it’s better than plastic but nah, it is not recyclable in Hong Kong, China, nor anywhere else on earth (to my knowledge).

 

It is very simple. Either you have recyclable packaging or you have landfill packaging. As a new company you MUST strive to provide recyclable packaging to consumers no matter what the circumstances otherwise it is better to not be in business. It is up to the governments and consumers to make the decisions from there (should we introduce a recycling program? should I throw this in the trash because I am lazy to recycle?)

 

If you want to be an eco-extremist, and it is trending on every social media platform, it’s better to stop breathing because it’s destroying the environment. I respect the efforts but in all effectiveness, the focusshould be on inventing technologies to recycle plastics and creating new plastic alternative materials that quickly decompose (yes, intelligence beats talking smack). I don’t believe in torturous guilt tripping of consumers to buy one product instead of another just because you are selling in “bulk” for instance. The bulk packaging most likely comes in plastic, most likely – this is my opinion, you can see it as you like.

 

One thing we did notice over the years is that big corporates don’t care about spending money for R&D into technologies for eco-friendly packaging and recycling. So as a small business you have no choice but to be patient and flexible and as a consumer you have to keep demanding eco-friendly packaging, stopping the mindless uses of plastics like straws, and demand better recycling programs from your businesses and governments.

 

With that being said, every product has different requirements. Our organic freeze-dried berries are sensitive to moisture so they must be stored in sealed containers that don’t allow moisture to pass through. The only non-landfill (aka non-mixed material packaging) material’s out there that are moisture resistant are plasticand glass. For food you should be using PP plastic, since it’s the safest.

As a company we want to be as green as possible but given the lack of technology out there instead of choosing one form of packaging, we decided to offer both plastic and glass packaging. Why? Simply put, we don’t want alienate a group on consumers who prefer to reduce their carbon footprint by not buying goods with one-time use packaging (disposable packaging). This group of people should be able to enjoy our delicious fruit snacks as well – they really are that good and did I mention super healthy? But please note glass is more expensive, heavier, and super fragile during shipping and as a small business you have to weigh your options when choosing what type of packing you want to deploy.

 

Shelf Life

Most businesses such as grocery and convenience stores buying your product will demand a 12-month shelf life, unless you are selling fresh, so a lot of research has to go into how your product and packaging reacts to different environmental conditions.

 

For instance, initially we wanted to use PLA plastic for our berries which is made out of Corn Starch (natural material) and decomposes with 180 days of being buried in a “perfect” dry/wet environment. We learned two things, one is that Hong Kong doesn’t have a composting program where PLA plastic is recycled so naturally it would go to the landfill for eternity without decomposing, and two, PLA allows moisture to penetrate its walls at least 5% of its contents weight per month which was not acceptable over a 12-month period; the freeze-dried crunch would be totally gone. So you see, experimentation with different packaging will be needed to find what is right for you.

 

I can only hope that we shed some light for businesses trying to conceive their packing out there. At the end of the day the market is complicated and competitive so even more variables have to be considered when making an investment into a packaging style. Our team at ‘A Kissing Tree’ is here to share what we know and of course listen so please leave comments, questions and contact us![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

 

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