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Convenience continues to be a driver behind consumer purchases. Pet parents want to feed their animal companions nutritious food at a high value and in an efficient, handy way. They want their pet’s food and treats fresh, fast, in single-serving sizes and easy to stow and go.
According to a March 2013 Pet Food Survey conducted by Chuck Latham Associates Inc., package size ranks high (#7) in what are the most important factors for consumers making food and treat purchases. Generations X, Y and Z see great value in products that save time and generally, make life easier—they are also a growing segment of consumers your pet packaging should be catering to. Taken together, the Gen Y and Gen X cohorts represent approximately 30 million pet owners as of 2011, or 5 million more than their Boomer elders, says Packaged Facts’ 2012 Pet Market Outlook .
In February 2013, Velcro Industries partnered with Holland-based Paragon Pet Products to integrate Press-Lok closure technology into its gluten-free, vegetable-based dog treats, Whimzees. The treats are packaged in pouches that can fit snugly or tightly on the shelf and offer long-lasting stability and freshness, according to the companies. The Press-Lok closure system is a proprietary hook-to-hook technology that is unique in the industry because it offers easy alignment that allows consumers to fasten without precise line-up, securing the package with little effort. This innovative packaging was introduced in April 2013 at many pet specialty retailers.
Sometimes the simplest solution ends up being the most helpful to a busy pet parent. The Handy Camel is a 12-inch bag clip with a specially designed hinge closure system for sealing large bags, like petfood bags. A built-in handle allows for carrying large bags up to 40 pounds. Rounded teeth on the interior of the clip grip bags without tearing, says the company, keeping the contents fresh and easily accessible.
Many cat and dog owners in the UK and Western Europe enjoy the convenience of plastic trays and microwaveable, steamed petfoods. Forthglade Foods has launched a range of cat and dog food products in a packaging format catering to these consumers. EDV Packaging partnered with Forthglade to produce the small, round, rigid plastic tray. The new size tray offers a single-serve pack offering pet owners the ultimate convenience in a contemporary and environmentally friendly plastic form, say the companies. According to EDV, the PP/EVOH/PP material provides a barrier to oxygen, moisture and aroma allowing a shelf life of 12 months to be achieved under ambient conditions.
Some of the most convenient packaging concepts are not yet being offered in the pet market, but have been conceptualized for, designed for or are only being used in the human food market. Designer Benjamin Yi, for example, has always wished there was a quick, portable solution for packing dry dog food. That’s how he came up with the idea for Top Paw dog food packaging. His concept combines a handled, travel-size dog food container with a convenient, built-in folding bowl to make feeding time possible wherever the consumer and their pet happen to be. A spout at the end of the Top Paw Dog Food box makes it easy to avoid using your hands when giving out doggie treats.
The Ultra-Freshness Preservation Freezing System uses technology proven in the electronics industry to ensure food quality and increase both shelf life and appeal, according to Japanese packaging designers Mutsumi Chemical Industry Co., SUN Electric Company and Enshu-Kasei Co. The companies recently were honored for Excellence in Innovation by the 2012 DuPont Awards for their product. This rapid-freezing system uses both alternating and direct current, high “electric potential,” at the same time to rapidly cool the food product without oxidization, reducing the size of ice crystals that form in food cells.
This process relies on a unique package design that includes an electro-conductive bag made of L-LDPE and DuPont Entira AS, say the companies. The combination of rapid freezing and the electro-conductive bag preserves food taste and texture, reducing the amount of edible food thrown away. While the concept has yet to be used in the pet market, frozen/raw petfood makers could lure more consumers to their section of the grocery cooler with this concept.