In this era of sustainability, some food and beverage manufacturers are bucking the trend. Their products are sold in multi-functional packages that are bulkier and have the potential to create more solid waste. The items are attracting special scrutiny in the health and wellness categories, which are often affiliated with green thinking.
“I would love the perfect option for packaging, but that perfect sustainable plastic isn't out there yet,” said Sheryl Kesey Thompson, marketing director and co-owner of Springfield Creamery, Beaverton, Ore., makers of Nancy's cultured dairy and soy products.
Earlier this year, the company introduced cottage cheese with a separate, on-top container of whole fruit. While the top and bottom cups used to hold the components are completely recyclable, Thompson noted that the separate fruit cup serves another purpose.
“When you put the fruit on top, and not in the product, you don't have to use stabilizers,” Thompson said.
Beverages are also showing off their more sophisticated side. Rising Beverage Co. has made a name for itself with Activate, a line of eight functional waters topped with a special cap. When it's twisted, the cap triggers the release of a powdered mix that drops into the water to be shaken and consumed. “A fresh dose of vitamins hid in the lid,” is how the company describes the procedure.
“The packaging has to do something for the consumer, something that they're willing to pay for and to make some trade-offs,” noted JoAnn Hines, an industry expert known as the Packaging Diva.
Though sustainability gets a lot of talk, Hines believes that more traditional concerns still top the list.
“If consumers want the convenience and accessibility that additional packaging provides, then they're going to buy the product,” she said.