The Customer’s Goal
Wyman’s of Maine, a leading producer of frozen berries and fruit, needed a flexible packaging solution that would help increase sales and optimize retail shelf space. As a past supplier of Walmart, Wyman’s was looking for a new package that would give them an opportunity to expand their footprint within the retail giant. In May 2016, they approached Emmerson Packaging to help them make the switch from their traditional lay-down pillow-packs to a more attractive stand-up pouch that could run on their Vertical Form Fill (VFFS) machine.
By switching to a vertical stand-up pouch, Wyman’s could make more efficient use of retail space (and make their products more visually appealing) by stacking their products front to back, instead of one on top of the other. They could also increase shelf appeal with improved graphics, and a larger, consumer-facing front panel (5 printable faces vs. 2 on the traditional pillow-pack).
Where Emmerson Packaging Stepped In
Emmerson Packaging’s team met with key Wyman’s personnel to discuss options. After the initial meeting, sample packages were provided in the dimensions that Wyman’s requested, but Emmerson Packaging’s team recognized that there may be a better solution, and provided Wyman’s with an alternate version that would work better on the actual store shelf. The alternate design had a narrower face panel and larger side gussets which would give the package a more rigid design. It also allowed Wyman’s to stack their product 3 across instead of 2 across on store shelves, effectively giving them more brand visibility. This was a huge benefit to Wyman’s, and they immediately agreed with the recommendations.
The Packaging Trials
Once initial samples were approved, a fill test using 3 lbs of frozen blueberries was initiated to determine which design to proceed with. On Emmerson Packaging’s alternate mockup, the fill test proved to be very successful. The new format sagged less on the shelf due to the more rigid design, allowing for better graphic display, while the larger gussets and smaller width allowed for additional facing on store shelves which meant more marketing space. Finally, due to the new design, there was an overall 12% reduction in film consumption, which was especially important to both Wyman’s and WalMart’s sustainability goals.
Wyman’s was happy with the design, and decided to implement it across multiple SKUs. They pitched the new package design to Walmart in June 2016. With just a few sizing adjustments, the new package was approved for store shelves. The folks in Bentonville are notoriously hard to impress, so for anyone who knows the process, this was a big deal!
Package trials are an important part of Emmerson Packaging’s process, and in Wyman’s case, two trials were required. The first trial, to confirm an appropriate structure, two films: sealable PET vs sealable OPP. Sealable OPP was determined to be the favourable film.
Wyman’s was shown various closures for their new packaging, but ultimately settled on a Thumb-tab Inno-Lok®. Emmerson Packaging created additional samples and purchased the Inno-Lok® tooling, and Wyman’s acquired their new VFFS machine. To minimize lead-times, prepress was run in tandem with the trials. When the second trial was performed, the sealable OPP film ran very well, and a final dieline was confirmed. In Emmerson Packaging’s experience, their customers work with a 3rd party company to produce artwork, and this was no different in Wyman’s case. Emmerson Packaging employs an in-house design team to ensure that all artwork is press-ready. In this case, the artwork was received and our in-house design team identified numerous design concerns. These concerns were addressed with new hand samples, and updated artwork was created for the different SKUs.
The film was ready for printing the moment the plates were finished, so once the new artwork was approved, Emmerson Packaging was able to deliver the new designs to Wyman’s in an extremely short time.
The Post-Project Review
One of the most important parts of Emmerson Packaging’s process is the post-project review. After the launch, Emmerson Packaging’s team met with Wyman’s at their head office to hear more about their experience and to troubleshoot any challenges they may have faced. In the end, Wyman’s had received a handful of complaints from some customers citing that the closures on the new design were too narrow, and did not allow them enough room to scoop or grab the frozen product comfortably or efficiently.
The combined Emmerson and Wyman’s teams quickly responded with trials to showcase different closure options to resolve the issue. Our R&D team promptly identified three different closure styles that would address the concerns by offering a wider opening, allowing consumers to more easily scoop and grab the product. The three options were: a 360° hook-to-hook zipper, a 360° vector zipper, and an extended Inno-Lok® zipper. The team at Wyman’s ultimately settled on the extended Inno-Lok® closure and the solution was quickly applied to all 6 SKUs.
To date, there has been solid acceptance of the new product and it is meeting its sales goals for both Walmart and Wyman’s.