From easy-open soup lids to refrigerator-friendly beverage containers, convenience and on-the-go packaging dominated Center Store aisles in 2003.
"People increasingly expect packaging to add value to the product by making it easier to use or save work or mess," said Mona Doyle, president, The Consumer Network, Philadelphia, a consumer research firm.
Doyle cited resealable packages that save time and hassle, as well as preserving freshness; portable, car-friendly packages like Frito-Lay's Go-snacks that fit in a purse or a car cup holder; and breath-mint strips such as Listerine Pocket Paks.
The Fridge Pack by Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, was one of the most notable innovations to hit supermarket shelves, according to Doyle. A slimmed-down, 12-pack box that comes with a snap-off top on one end, The Fridge Pack fits easily into the refrigerator because cans are arranged two high and six deep.
Along with making products easier to store, packaging innovations have made Center Store items easier to carry. This year, 1-gallon sizes of Ocean Spray juices began featuring a sturdy plastic handle for easier carrying. Likewise, an easy-grip handle was one of the main features Procter & Gamble stressed when it debuted its new Folgers "AromaSeal" plastic coffee canister.
Additionally, easy-open lids dominated various canned goods categories.
The trend got its start about five years ago in the pet category, and has quickly expanded to other areas -- most recently to canned soup and pasta. The lids are making a difference at the point of purchase, catering to consumers who are looking for food that's not only easy to prepare, but also easy to remove from the package. Over the summer, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., revamped its entire 75-flavor condensed soup line with easy-open lids, modeled after its "Chunky" and "Select" lines.
Among other brands that have tapped into the trend: Franco American gravy; Chef Boyardee mini ravioli; Maxwell House coffee; Bumble Bee and Starkist tuna; and Friskies and Fancy Feast cat food.