News & Updates

President Biden Blasts Packaging Shrinkflation

Brands respond to inflation with their own best tactics to survive, including shrinking the package or the amount of product inside. But consumers see through their tricks. Or do they?

The leader of the free world condemned the deceptive practice of “shrinkflation” in an Instagram post during Super Bowl LVIII.

What is shrinkflation? It’s when “brands might avoid raising prices by downsizing the packaging or reducing the amount of product in the current package,” explains Charles Haverfield, Packaging Executive for US Packaging and Wrapping.

In his Instagram video, President Biden says, “I’ve had enough of what they call shrinkflation. It’s a rip off. Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice. Give me a break.”

He calls on companies to stop this and “Do the right thing, now.”

As a consumer, I feel the pinch of higher prices at the grocery store. It seems like every week I’m getting less for more dollars when I shop.

But I understand the market pressures behind shrinkflation.

I think most consumers realize that brands are seeing their raw material prices going up. What they dislike is the deception of trying to hide the product/packaging change. They often notice it right away anyway, don’t they?

Well, not always. In many cases, companies use shrinkflation because it works — it helps them compete; it helps them survive.

Many companies, food manufacturers in particular, work on incredibly tight profit margins. When ingredient prices go up but they can’t pass that increase on, they need to get creative.

Related:Shrinkflation Packaging Examples: 13 from September

A lot of times, they come to you in packaging for help. What can we do to absorb our higher prices? Can we shrink the package a bit? Can we reduce the product fill? Can we improve our packaging line output so we can sell more volume? A little here and a little there could add up to quite a lot.

What to do, what to do?

We’re hearing more about shrinkflation these days because more sources are calling out the changes online, on social media. Like the president!

In his Instagram video, President Biden points to an example of shrinkflation that’s personal to him: “As an ice cream lover, what makes me the most angry is that ice cream cartons have actually shrunk in size, but not in price.”

While I’m pretty sure the President can afford whatever ice cream he wants, I get his frustration. But ice cream packaging started to shrink decades ago. The last major downshift in package size for ice cream happened about 15 years ago, according to Granted, smaller changes are still happening, like Turkey Hill dropping from 1.5 to 1.44 quarts last year.

When it comes to the (agreeably deceptive) practice of shrinkflation, companies should probably stop. Will they? Not a chance if it helps sell products — and if their competitors do it.

Related:Package Shrinkflation: What It Is, Why It’s Used, and How to Spot It

This reminds me of an earlier packaging conundrum. Remember when laundry detergent wasn’t concentrated? Walmart president and CEO at the time, Lee Scott, transformed the entire category in 2008 by selling only concentrated products and forcing all competitors to change at the same time.

Sustainability drove this change and it was a good idea and needed to be done, in my opinion. But brands were reluctant to do this on their own because their higher-priced concentrated product was on the store shelf next to a non-concentrated competitor’s product at a lower price in the same size bottle. Consumers didn’t take the time in the store to do the math and overwhelmingly picked the cheaper brand. The visual was too compelling. Two bottles side by side, one much higher priced. Easy snap decision. Bam.

In the case of laundry detergent, Walmart leveled the packaging playing field so consumers could make a better-informed buying decision. But this is an extreme example.

No one is stepping up to whip ice cream makers into similar or identical packaging sizes. And no one should, in my opinion. Packaging innovation is key to product marketing and companies shouldn’t be handcuffed by being required to follow a format.

Related:Planters Nuts Packaging: More Peanut-Like, Less Plastic

So what can brands do when asked to shrink the package or the product amount?

Whenever making a packaging change, take an opportunity to improve it somehow. If you add value to the product, like better dispensing, you are better able to pass along a product price increase.

Also, aren’t we trying to reduce packaging anyway for sustainability reasons? Maybe you could explain the sustainability benefits of your change?

What do you think?

How do you feel about shrinkflation? Packaging folks are the ones making it happen. Take this short poll to share your opinion and see what others say:

News & Updates

Rockstar Energy reveals new brand identity

Rockstar Energy drink has refreshed its branding across its full product range.

Designed in-house by PepsiCo Design + Innovation, aims for greater accessibility and inclusivity by differentiating from traditional energy drinks.

The new design features a burst of colours seek to resonate with a broader audience of energy drink consumers by adopting a new flavour-forward look and feel.

The new look maintains the iconic star logo while introducing simplicity and a ‘universal appeal’, catering to a broader, more modern audience.

Marie-Therese Cassidy, vice president of design, Europe, said: “By seamlessly merging our iconic gold star with the refreshed Rockstar wordmark, we’ve made a lasting impact both on and off the shelf. Additionally, our team has introduced a vibrant repeating star shape, providing a visual gateway into Rockstar’s diverse world of flavours and experiences.”


News & Updates

Beatson Clark revamps Cottage Delight’s packaging with renewed focus on sustainability

Glass packaging manufacturer Beatson Clark has revamped Cottage Delight’s packaging with a renewed focus on sustainability as the company celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Cottage Delight sells hand-made food products such as jams and chutneys in 36 countries worldwide.

Beatson Clark has worked with the company for over two decades and supported its major packaging rebrand in 2018 by creating three new bespoke glass containers.

Now Cottage Delight has removed the mop cap and elastic band from its jars and replaced them with aluminium lids.

Beatson Clark has redesigned the bespoke 302ml jar – the main jar in the range – to have a deep twist-off neck finish, giving it a modern look and providing a larger area on the cap for printing.

“We are delighted with the new look 302ml jar,” said Sarah Williams, marketing director at Cottage Delight.

“Working with the Beatson Clark design team has enabled us to create a more contemporary jar, while retaining a feel of heritage. The revised shape also means a more efficient jar for our production line and it will allow more accurate application of the front label.

“The team at Beatson Clark have been great to work with, allowing us to meet our timescales at launch for our special anniversary year.”


News & Updates

Penrhos Spirits launches gin in Vetroplas aluminium bottles

Penrhos Spirits has launched a range of gins available in aluminium bottles supplied by Vetroplas in conjunction with its Spanish manufacturing partner Envases.

The 70cl aluminium bottles – which feature a 28/410 neck thread and a BPA NI PE liner – are

finished with an aluminium screw cap.

The distinctive bottle colour and decoration were achieved by offset printing the artwork over an

opaque base coat and sealed with a matt lacquer.

Charles Turner, a founding member of Penrhos Spirits, said: “We have a distinctive range of gins and this new packaging format provides a really strong stand out on shelf. The ease with which aluminium bottles can be recycled was also a major factor in our choice of Vetroplas’ bottles. We know this element is appreciated by customers and forms part of our philosophy of reducing carbon footprint where possible.”


News & Updates

The Label Makers work with Dà Mhìle Distillery to redefine spirit branding

The Label Makers has worked on the launch of Dà Mhìle’s Millennium Cask Reserve MM20 – a 20-year-old single-grain scotch whisky bottled by the distiller.

The whisky’s features a spectrum of colours and gold foiling and high-build spot varnish detailing.

Dà Mhìle’s Jenny McClelland said: “The service provided by Rachel and her team is exceptional. Their prompt communication, technical expertise and ability to simplify complex processes have been invaluable. Additionally, their proactive approach to presenting problems with solutions has been pivotal in the seamless execution of each project.”

The Label Makers’ Ben Robinson, added: “We have established a great working relationship with the Dà Mhìle Distillery and we are delighted to have been part of this particular project and their ongoing success.”


News & Updates

Bloom designs packaging for Britvic’s new Tango Mango

Brand-design agency Bloom has designed the packaging for Britvic’s new Tango Mango soft drink.

The packaging features lively mango imagery, silver accents and flowing lines, all handcrafted with chunky paint markers in bright mango hues.

Set against Tango’s signature black, the design stands out with its dynamic and bold aesthetic, incorporating confident marks and embracing imperfections.

Stu Witter, Bloom’s associate creative director, said: “We drew inspiration from various art forms, including graffiti and street culture, infusing cultural relevance into our graphics. Our design concept, which we call Tiger Style, draws from hip hop and street creativity, blending graffiti elements with the intricate detailing seen in custom car culture.

“We’ve also incorporated the vibrant colours of mango into the work, creating a pattern that’s not only eye-catching on pack but also adaptable to streetwear, merchandise and interior design.”

Dave Laidler, Britvic’s Carbonates Brand Director, said: “The Tango Mango design is hugely eye-catching and will appeal to our younger audience looking for excitement within fruit carbonates. We’re delighted with the results and can’t wait to see how our consumers react.”


News & Updates

Elopak invests for continued global growth

Carton giant Elopak is ramping up investments as it continues to grow in Europe and North America, along with partner plants across the world. Waqas Qureshi met the plant manager at its high-tech Netherlands facility.

Carton and machinery giant Elopak is investing heavily in its business as it looks to grow market share.

Seen as the world’s largest fresh liquid carton supplier, the company is realising the benefits of its technology investment in its Terneuzen, Netherlands facility which opened in 2023 – the company’s largest manufacturing plant globally.

The plant provides services such as repro design, platemaking, converting, sealing and packaging & logistics.

It has 440 employees, with five shift operations, producing cartons for fresh, hot fill, aseptic, and UHT products.
Prior to the new plant, the company had three warehouses with goods transported between sites. The new single facility has maintained the same level of output as the previous three sites, with volume also remaining the same.

Elopak is a full systems provider of carton packaging solutions. It develops and produces aseptic filling machines for ambient distribution and in co-operaton with Shikoku Kakoki filling machines for fresh/extended shelf life for chilled distribution.

Elopak also provides maintenance, spare parts, upgrades and retrofit services.

The company produces 16 different volume sizes – the smallest ¼ litre, largest is two-litre.

It offers 15 different opening features including easy opening.

Fully automated facility
Peter Lernout, plant manager, Terneuzen, said: “Until Nov 2022 we had three warehouses within 20km of the plant with total capacity of 300 million cartons, requiring 40+ truckloads per day internal transport for storage.

All warehouses were manual lifttruck storing. and picking. The new full automated highbay warehouse has a storage capacity up to 495 million cartons and direct connection with the converting plant.”

He said the new highbay, fully automated warehouse replaced the previously manual process of storing and loading pallets of blanks (folded cartons).

The new facility saves more than 40 truckloads per day, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as improving efficiency.

The highbay warehouse can hold almost 200 million more cartons than the previous warehouses combined, offering over 24,000 pallet places across a 5,800m2 surface area.

The production lines at the site include six converting lines – producing various configurations and sizes.
Lernout said: “Volume remains the same – the efficiency is in the storage and handling – we went from 45 staff to 25 staff and made energy savings. We used to lose 24 hours with internal transport – not shuttling to external warehouses and automation vs manual lift trucks is a 3.2 ton CO2 saving / year.”

Elopak offers a wide portfolio of carton materials, board weights, strengths and coatings.

“Materials have evolved over the years – new types of board, less board, less weight, focus on less aluminium in the cartons is a big step. We still see opportunities to develop it more.”

For food products the carton has to be air tight and it is sensitive – some foods such as soups/sauces have started to move to cartons in recent years.

One of the main sectors the company works in is milk. Mik in cartons continues to be the norm in the continent. But in the UK it is still a small share of the milk market – and Elopak is hopeful it can capitalise on expected growth.

The company is also exploring the non food market – such as mouthwash in cartons, laundry liquid, sauces and more.

Sustainable growth
Ole-Petter Trovaag, interim chief technology officer, said one recent innovation has been the development of renewable polymer layers for its Pure-Pak fresh cartons.

“This polymer is based on secondary feedstock, such as tall oil sourced from responsibly managed forests, resulting in a naturally renewable carton that has a smaller carbon footprint. Since the launch of these renewable cartons in 2014, Elopak has saved more than 12,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

“As part of our strategy for sustainability-led growth, we are expanding into new geographical markets, providing low-carbon, naturally sustainable cartons to more people around the world,” said Trovaag. “In recent years we have opened new production facilities in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and India, and we are due to open our first US plant in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2025.”

Last November the company unveiled a new generation of filling machine, which it said extends the shelf life of fresh products to up to 60 days. In its 2022 sustainability report, Elopak documented that 30% of the fresh milk cartons it sold in Europe that year were fully renewable – up from 18% the previous year.

Trovaag added that geographic expansion, including new operations in MENA and India, as well as the upcoming plant in the USA, form a key pillar of its growth strategy – to bring ‘naturally sustainable, low-carbon cartons’ to more markets and customers.

“Operations in India, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco have gotten up to speed and smoothly integrated within the broader Elopak network. Our first US production plant in Little Rock, Arkansas is expected to come online in 2025, helping us to better serve both new and existing customers in the US.

“In Q3 2023 we announced our best ever financial results as a company, with revenues increased by 4% to €283.5m and organic growth up 5%. We expect to achieve a full year revenue of €1.1bn, well above our mid-term organic growth target of 2-3%.”


News & Updates

Ultra-clean PE materials for flexible packaging revealed by Repsol

Repsol has expanded its ultra-clean polyethylene range – now featuring several grades of HDPE, low-density metallocene, and an EBA copolymer – and expects to provide customers with various options to replace multi-material flexibles while aligning with recyclability targets set out in upcoming EU legislation.

Apparently, the new range increases the stretch ratio of non-ultra-clean polyethylene grades by 40% – enhancing the performance of its final products and improving processability compared to alternatives currently on the market. The stretch ratio is said to enable the materials’ use in applications with maximum orientation and differentiated mechanical properties.

In turn, the solution anticipates the requirement that all packaging on the EU market must be recyclable by 2030, with Repsol aiming to help its customers fulfill that target.

With the recent development of MDO technology to produce mono-material packaging, its minimal installed capacity is still under development; Repsol describes it as a ‘novel solution with high potential to solve the sustainability challenges of flexible packaging’.

The company seeks to encourage its customers to design packaging for mechanical recycling in a bid to cut down on carbon footprint and increase efficiency.

“We are proud to launch one of the most comprehensive ranges to support customers in this initial phase and accompany them in the innovation process,” said Antonio Portela, Polyolefins director at Repsol. “Our new range is also available in its circular, bio, and bio-circular alternatives to further drive our customers’ sustainability commitments in circularity and decarbonization.”

Pablo Giner, Polyethylene director at Repsol, added: “With this launch, we offer our clients a global eco-design solution for flexible packaging based on our broad portfolio of polyolefins: HDPE, mLLDPE, and EBA.”

Repsol’s HDPE UltraClean 110, HDPE UltraClean 120, mLLDPE UltraClean 210, mLLDPE UltraClean 220, and EBA UltraClean 310 material grades are now commercially available.

The news follows the release of Repsol’s ISCC PLUS certified circular EVA copolymers late last year. Claimed to be the first of their kind on the market, the copolymers are intended to help establish a circular economy for polyolefins and cut down on Repsol’s own virgin raw material consumption.

In another development, LeadEdge Flexo has developed a new mounting material made of bio-based polyethylene and seeks to lower the reliance on synthetic virgin material in corrugated post-printing solutions.

Berry Global has also unveiled an upgraded version of its Omni Xtra polyethylene cling film for fresh food products, intended as a certified recyclable alternative to traditional PVC solutions.


News & Updates

Label-free Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles trialled by Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is temporarily removing the labels from its Sprite and Sprite Zero on-the-go bottles to trial label-free packaging in hopes of reducing plastic waste.

Although the existing labels are fully recyclable, according to Coca-Cola, designing them out is expected to cut down on the amount of packaging material used and negate the need to separate packaging components before recycling the bottle.

As such, single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles will see their labels temporarily removed, with an embossed logo taking their place on the front of the pack. Product and nutritional information will be laser-engraved into the back of the bottle.

The bottles are already said to be made from 100% recycled PET. Green and transparent attached caps will differentiate between Sprite and Sprite Zero drinks, respectively.

Eight Tesco Express stores in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London, and Manchester will stock the limited design between January and March 2024.

“We want to help create a future where plastic drink packaging will always have more than one life,” explained Dusan Stojankic, VP Franchise Operations, GB&I at Coca-Cola Great Britain. “Labels contain valuable information for consumers, but with the help of technology we can now trial other ways to share this information while reducing the amount of packaging we use.

“Going label-less might seem like a small step, but it is one of several ways we are exploring making recycling easier, minimizing waste, and minimizing the impact of our packaging on the environment.”

“The trial we are announcing today is a milestone for the industry,” continued Javier Meza, VP Marketing, Coca‑Cola Europe. “It’s the first time these two technologies have been used in a pilot globally, where a Coca‑Cola product will appear in a label-less, single-unit bottle sold in-store.

“Although the design change may sound simple, this is a big shift from a marketing perspective. This trial could contribute to longer-term changes to the way brands communicate with their consumers.”

James Bull, head of Packaging and Food Waste Strategy at Tesco, added: “We want to help our customers minimize the environmental impact of the products they buy, including removing plastic and packaging when possible. This trial of label-less packaging by Sprite is a great example of how brands are innovating to provide those solutions.”

“It’s clear that, as a society, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle more, and waste less,” concluded Allison Ogden-Newton, chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy. “Everyone, including businesses, needs to be part of the solution. We welcome this exciting and innovative trial.”

Coca-Cola has sought to reduce its packaging waste by redesigning its products; one of these efforts involved replacing green plastic Sprite bottles with clear alternatives to enhance their recyclability. The company has sought to lightweight and reduce unnecessary materials in the bottles themselves and any outer packaging, while its implementation of attached caps hopes to cut down on littering.

In other plastic reduction efforts, Coca-Cola has been facilitating transitions into 100% recycled plastic bottles, minus caps and labels, in the Philippines and Canada – both moves set to bring the company closer to its sustainability goals, including achieving 100% recyclability for its packaging by 2025 and implementing at least 50% recycled plastic in all its packaging by 2030.

Another label-free bottle came from Fourth Wave Wine and Denomination last year. It claimed to be the first wine bottle not to feature a label and sought to convey all necessary product information, including a scannable QR code, on a digital capsule on the bottle neck.


News & Updates

Conagra Brands and Dolly Parton Partner on New Food Line

Parton and the CPG company have already had a multiyear successful partnership.

By now, unless someone lives under a rock or on some remote island, everybody knows who Dolly Parton is. The singer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur just turned 78 last week and shows no signs of slowing down.

Parton is now partnering with Conagra Brands on a new line of food products that will include frozen, refrigerated, grocery, and snack items inspired by down-home comfort cuisine.  This comes after the continued success of her multiyear partnership with Duncan Hines.

“I loved co-creating my Duncan Hines line with Conagra and I’m thrilled we’re going well beyond the baking aisle with new items across the store,” said Parton. “We’re looking to continue to inspire special moments in the kitchen, with some of my family’s favorite recipes, and I think people are really going to love them!” 

The new products will start rolling out in stores nationwide this month, with an expanded line-up of Duncan Hines’ mixes including Chocolate Cake Mix, Yellow Cake Mix, Cinnamon Crumb Cake Mix, Blueberry Muffin Mix, and Banana Nut Muffin Mix.

Additionally, the first single-branded Dolly Parton item, Buttermilk Pancake Mix, will start hitting shelves this winter and marks Dolly’s first foray into the breakfast category. More items are expected to launch later in 2024 including frozen items.

“We are beyond thrilled to build on the success of our partnership with one of the most beloved and respected women in the world,” added Lucy Brady, president of Grocery & Snacks at Conagra Brands. “With our expertise in food, we’ll help bring Dolly’s vision and favorite recipes to so many tables across America, with delicious new offerings across a wide range of eating occasions.”