Fiber-based packaging, which has exploded in Europe due to environmental concerns, is making its way to the United States.
One successful translation has been done by First In Show, Grandville, Mich., which has chosen rectangular Dorpak containers, developed in the Netherlands. Available here from Cin-Made Corp., Cincinnati, the container is being used by First In Show for its 10- and 25-pound packages of pelletized premium dog food. "We wanted to address concerns consumers have with bags, the typical packaging in the category," said Monte Mongrieg, president of First In Show. The Dorpak container is designed to be easy to handle, carry, open, pour from and store. Marketed in supermarkets, mass-merchandise stores and warehouse clubs in Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama and on the West Coast, the premium dog-food package features a label printed in six colors, plus ultraviolet coating and a color-matched recycled polypropylene handle and polystyrene friction-fit lid. The container itself consists of a sift-proof paperboard bottom glued to a clay-coated chipboard body that includes grease and moisture barriers and contains 85% post-consumer-recycled content. "It's also recyclable where facilities exist," said Mongrieg. What's not premium is the price, which is comparable to typical store brands. "This addresses direct product profitability," said Mongrieg. "With our concentrated formula and compact, unique package, we can offer an average gross margin of 24%, which is very good for dry dog food. "Every buyer we've shown the package to has placed an order," he said, adding, "It all starts with the container." The 10-pound containers are packed in trays of four, shrink-wrapped and stacked on pallets in layers of 12 or 13 to form an endcap display of 200 containers. The 25-pound containers are stacked individually. Plans call for a premium cat food in a 7-pound Dorpak container.
Europeans like paper, paperboard and corrugated packaging. Since fiber is a renewable resource, readily recyclable and biodegradable, it's considered environmentally friendly even when coated with plastic. In addition, Duales System Deutschland, which operates Germany's system for collecting packaging waste, charges manufacturers substantially less to use its green dot on fiber-based packaging than for other materials.
In addition, there's such a push to recycle in Europe, that any package that simplifies the process is viewed positively, hence a growing interest in mono-material containers and packaging where components of different materials are easy to separate. As a result, a number of 100% fiber "blister" cards have appeared.