Hormel Natural Choice Packaging Review

There’s been a lot of talk about moving towards more sustainable packaging, lately. We even get some requests now and again. For the most part, while it’s a good story, I really don’t see a lot of it at shelf, yet.

There’s a few reasons for this. One is that cost is sometimes a big factor – and one that usually stops a lot of projects early on. It takes a lot of cash to re-jigger larger lines for the new green stuff and that can be a bit too much for tighter margin items. Another hurdle is how to control shrinkage. One of the big reasons for having plastic (aside from being cheap) is that you can sort of encase your product in it making the item virtually impossible to quickly extricate, as we all have become aware. The third reason is sometimes sustainable packaging just doesn’t have the punch of regular packaging. The high-gloss, pretty printing goes a long way, so when I saw this packaging in my local grocer’s shelving, I was excited.

Here we have a nice step into more sustainable food packaging by Hormel. It consists of a cardboard box encasing the standard zip-lock bag of product. The really interesting thing is that Hormel went the distance and decided to direct print on the cardboard box rather than going the standard litho-laminate route seen on most other packaging.

The big drawback of this method is that the colors just don’t have the pop as the common high gloss methods. Hormel seems to have played to this weakness by choosing a muted color palette of that tends to vibrate against each other, creating enough contrast to punch out the trade dress on the shelf. The trade dress also was made with an eye toward the actual printing process – probably flexo by the substrate – and the capabilities it has (or lack of them as it may be). The designer kept the look amazingly clean, eschewing the normal bit of indulgent gradient and detail work. The dress further hides the shortcomings of the process by removing any places where color may overlap, thus negating flexography’s inherent sloppiness on press. Only in the Hormel ribbon does two colors overlap and when that area gets messy, that dark ghosting of the green on red will be neatly read as a drop shadow on the ribbon – well-played!

Using the ‘natural’ look of the cardboard also creates a nice allusion to being  a more natural product as it has a certain old-timey feel like the old days where items were wrapped in butcher paper instead of vacuum-packed space bags, even though the product inside is. The bare cardboard look is quite good at showing the perception of quality, simplicity or heavy-duty and it does so here as well with a ‘green’ feel as well.

Finally, the use of the cut out on the front provides the savory look at the product itself, allowing the real color of the item punch out from the comparatively dull packaging – A far better solution than the competitors which usually show an image of the product, and one that costs nothing more than a die cut.

Executions like this give me hope that we’ll see more sweeping changes in the industry toward more conscious packaging, both for the environment and for marketing.

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