Is there any other industry as ubiquitous as packaging? Just about every product purchased, whether by a business or at the consumer level, comes in some kind of package, be it a plain cardboard box delivered to the loading dock or a shiny stand-up pouch plucked from the supermarket shelf.
For the manufacturing and engineering departments, packaging is critical to make sure that the products they worked so hard to design and produce arrive intact at their destination and will perform as specified. For the sales and marketing team, packaging is the secret weapon that makes the product stand out in the marketplace and builds the brand. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of packaging in an industry whose annual sales are estimated at almost $150 billion per year in the U.S. alone.
Printpack, a major converter of flexible and specialty rigid packaging, has been in the business for 55 years. Headquartered in Atlanta, the company has had a Hacienda office since 2007. The five associates who work there include account managers and customer service, graphics, and technical services personnel, serving a customer base that stretches from the North Bay to the San Joaquin Valley to the Central Coast. They are part of a company that operates 28 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Poland, and China.
Roughly 80 percent of Printpack's business is in food, with applications ranging from fresh meats and cheeses to snacks and frozen foods to bulk and portioned liquids. California's fresh produce is fertile ground for the converter, which recently introduced a peelable, easy-open package for fresh-cut produce. While today's consumers might take the ability to buy packaged, ready-to-eat field greens for granted, the product represents a major step forward, as the packager had to engineer a structure that would maintain the produce's natural respiration rate without wilting.
Even more ground-breaking is the packaging of pre-cut apple slices, which have traditionally been so susceptible to unappetizing discoloration. Printpack achieved a major milestone when it created packaging that allowed McDonald's to offer its Fruit & Walnut snack. "The nuts need an oxygen barrier to keep from going rancid, while the apples need to breathe," explains Sarah Blackmon, Corporate Marketing Manager for the converter. "Printpack developed a lid stock that combines technologies so we can marry products that have different barrier needs in one package."
Another innovation harnesses a different technology trend. The new EZ Code(R), the squiggly barcode-like mark imprinted on a package, is the gateway to new interactive packaging. Clicking on the code with a smartphone camera takes the user to a website with all kinds of information about the product - promotions, recipes, even ads for a tv show.
"We can print the EZ code on our flexible packaging and it never needs to be changed," comments Blackmon. "That's a great advantage, because when marketers want to change the content, rotating recipes, for example, they don't have the expense of reprinting the package. They can simply change the website."
For more information about the full extent of Printpack's capabilities, from high performance materials to pre-press services from concept to production, visit www.printpack.com .
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