Remember when ketchup turned upside down? Or when half-gallons of milk grew plastic screw caps on their sides? We are resistant to change in food packaging, attached to our squeezy honey bear, Toblerone’s triangular prism and the resealable paperboard tube that houses Pringles’s neat stack of hyperbolic paraboloid chips.
But what if there’s a better way? (Seriously, try going back to doing the pinchy-pully motion to open the cardboard wings of a milk carton without mauling things.)
Something new is coming and soon you will scarcely remember when it didn’t exist. It’s called the Standcap Inverted Pouch. Daisy brand sour cream led the charge, debuting its Daisy Squeeze in 2015: a soft-sided, inverted wedge shape with a flat, flip-top dispensing closure on which it sits jauntily. It rolls down like a toothpaste tube, uses gravity as an assist and minimizes the introduction of oxygen, thus slowing spoilage.
And now the pouches are coming fast and furious: Chobani whole-milk plain yogurt, Original Uncle Dougie’s organic barbecue sauces. A major player in the guacamole business will debut its version Aug. 1.
What’s behind the pivot? Some is financially driven: In the first year of its pouch, Daisy reported a 69.7% increase in sales (despite charging about 25% more per ounce than for the traditional tubs).
But according to Ron Cotterman, vice president of corporate innovation and sustainability for the packaging-solutions company Sealed Air, some of the drive for innovative packaging is a turn away from glass. He says in the past decade that there’s been a shift for three reasons: the cost of transporting and storing a heavy product, the perception of safety (consumers fear breakage and shards), and there are not a lot of end markets for the glass. There has been a significant shift away from municipalities recycling glass because of the cost associated with it.
“Part of it is consumer-driven,” Cotterman said. “But it’s also about sustainability. Walmart has its Project Gigaton goal to avoid 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030. And Amazon aims to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030.”
Fine, world-saving. But let’s talk about flips, drips, lips and other quotidian woes. There’s the jerking motion required to coax a viscous liquid down the neck of an upright glass or hard plastic bottle (and the anguish of an unexpected deluge), then the wrist-flick flip back upright so gravity halts the flow. There’s the goo that accumulates around the lip and cap of a regular bottle. And there’s the vexing last 10% of a product that clings stubbornly to the container’s innards, taunting you and wasting your money.
Aptar is the company responsible for the Standcap’s silicone dispensing-valve technology. Regular inverted bottles with dispensing valves have a re-intake of air after you squeeze (like a shampoo bottle). Aptar’s invention dispenses and cuts off the product without introducing air. Rob Johnson, chief executive of Original Uncle Dougie’s, says this feature dramatically extends shelf life.
But there are other reasons companies might be shifting to this kind of package. It’s about a cultural shift, taking a product like sour cream from an ingredient (the anchor to a casserole or coffee cake) to a condiment.
For now, the Standcap Inverted Pouch is a novelty that stands out, and up, in the condiment aisle.
But companies may also be playing to consumer psychology. Products that reside in the door of the refrigerator see more action. A tub gets pushed to the back of the fridge and into Siberia, green fuzz and solitude. This new technology’s upright design makes it door-appropriate, living cheek to jowl with heavy-rotation items. The Standcap Inverted Pouch may, in a sense, give companies a foot in the door.