Package Design - June 2012 - (Page 15)
BY LINDA CASEY
Cal Poly students’ redesigned shipper steps up asparagus’ appeal for Walmart shoppers.
ata from the USDA Vegetables and Pulses Outlook shows that America’s hunger for fresh asparagus is growing. Over the past three decades, consumption of fresh asparagus has grown from 0.4 lbs per person per year to 1.4 lbs— that’s an increase of 350%. To help Walmart take advantage of this growth, the Gourmet Trading Company (Los Angeles, CA), a grower, packer and distributor of asparagus, contacted the packaging program at Cal Poly State University (San Luis Obispo, CA) to help redesign its 11-lb. produce shipper. Cal Poly students Evan Cernokus and Sean Silger, with the aid of their professor Jay Singh, designed a two-piece shipper that quickly and easily transforms into a display-ready container that holds asparagus in an upright position. “The produce racks at Walmart are very steep, with an approximate 60-deg. angle,” Cernokus explains. “The incline wouldn’t allow the asparagus to be displayed vertically in the previous shipper. Walmart had to place the asparagus with the butt end to the consumer, which is very unappealing.” Cernokus and Silger’s solution uses a bottom tray that comes up to about one-third the height of the asparagus stacks. The tray’s structural design not only enables Walmart to display the asparagus vertically, but it also eliminates the time-consuming process of having a store clerk remove asparagus bunches from a shipper and lay them down for display. Furthermore, the tall lip of the shipper provides a large billboard area for Gourmet Trading Company to use for branding. Julia Inestroza, Gourmet Trading Company’s marketing director, provided all the graphics for the shipper and placed simple instructions for transforming the shipper into the display. The instructions help Walmart clerks identify the interlocking tabs, which were specifically designed not to protrude out from the shipper. “The tabs couldn’t just hold the asparagus in
and secure the top of the tray well,” Cernokus says. “They had to be aesthetically appealing and not catch on other packages on a pallet. So we designed the top so it actually came over the lip of the tray and then folded into the tray so no tabs are exposed.” Cernokus adds that another design challenge for the tabs originated from the packaging material itself. “There was quite a bit of difference between the sheets we had in America—the white PP—and the sheets from Peru,” he says. While we were waiting for the Peruvian sheets to come, which are more dense and brittle, we cut the design out on the American sheets. The properties of the intended material are so different that we had to alter the design, retest it and redesign it.” This, Singh says, is offset by the advantages of using PP for this type of packaging. “Graphics stand out on this packaging,” he explains. “And it doesn’t deform as easily as wax-coated or alternative-coated paperboard packaging.” Asparagus imported from Peru needs to make the long journey to the U.S. in shippers that can survive hydro-cooling and the moisture created by the process. They must also allow for fumigation of the packaging and produce. The structure designed by Cernokus and Silger has die-cut holes in the top and sides to enable fumigation yet is strong enough to accommodate palletizing of 20 packages per tier in an eight-tier stack. The packaging won a 2012 IoPP Ameristar Packaging award and, according to Singh, has increased sales and delivered better marketing and shelf appeal for Walmart. PD
The new shipper uses the same side-loading packing method as the previous shipper. The Gourmet Trading Company didn’t have to invest in retraining packing-line employees or take a hit on productivity.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Package Design - June 2012
Package Design - June 2012
From the Editor
Eyes on the Prize
This Spud’s for You
Packaging Gets Personal
First Order of Business
Product Focus: Components — Caps, Seals and Handles
Index of Advertisers
Package Design - June 2012