PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest, Fall 2015

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Marty Zei, Parker Plastics' Midwest sales manager, recalls key points of the project, which involved creating a 40-oz net weight canteen and a 20-oz net weight ì ask—both made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). "Danny gave me a current military canteen and said, 'I want this replicated the best you can,'" Zei says. T e canteen design needed to be modif ed, though. "We had to design it to the correct overf ll capacity. An actual canteen can hold 32 f uid ounces to the brim. We had to make it a little bigger so the ë ll capacity for that 32 ounce, or 40 ounce net weight, would include about an inch and a half for headspace," Zei explains. "We had to change it so the shape would hold the correct amount, but also to make sure it f t into our molds." T e canteen is stretch blow molded in two stages on an SBO2 machine from Sidel (pdlinks. com/Sidel), on which the injection-molded preform from Parker Plastics is reheated and then blown. "Every machine has limitations on how tall, wide and deep you can make a container," Zei says. "T e original canteen design was fractionally too wide for the SBO2. But to go to a dif erent machine would have upped the cost of the mold by several thousand dollars." T e start-up company didn't want to absorb that added expense so "we sized the bottle for cost as well as for capacity," Zei says. T ey also considered the sauce volume of competitive containers, which is one of the reasons they have two bottle sizes. ɨ e 55-gram canteen has a 38mm modië ed Kerr neck ë nish, and the 36-gram ì ask has a 33-400 shallow skirt neck f nish, both selected for looks as well as for function. Mandera says, "T ese are big-mouth bottles so they are easy to pour and easy to reë ll. Easy to clean, too—you can stick a brush in there." Both these bottles are convex in the front and concave in the back, like the actual containers used by soldiers, so they f t snuggly and securely against the contour of a body. T e f ask, for example, f ts into the sleeve pocket of soldiers' f eld uniforms and curves around the arm. "Every bottle design has its challenges and these had their fair share with the multiple radii," Zei admits. The shapely bottles were also interesting to decorate. 'Decorated' designs As mentioned earlier, the color scheme on the labels copies the design of the company's food trucks. T e waving f ag graphic on the front labels paints this as an American product. And on the back labels, the colors connect with the marine dress uniform: navy blue for the coat, lighter blue for the pants, red for the blood stripe down the length of the pants and gold for the brass all over the uniform. "We wanted the packaging to be eye-appealing on the shelf," Mandera says. "We spent more for labeling and packaging because we wanted that dif erent look. When you're the new kid on the block, you need something people can remember you by—not only just by taste but by the look. It's got some sex appeal to it." Elsner agrees, "You're not going to be able to walk down the aisle without picking up a bottle." "You want to touch it," Mandera adds. "You want to get the feel of it." Zei recommended MPI Label Systems (pdlinks.com/MPILabel) at its University Park, IL, location, and consulted with them during packaging development to understand the parameters and limitations of various label types. Because of the bottles' challenging shapes, Two Soldiers and a Marine opted to use a shrink label on the canteen and front-and-back pressure- sensitive labels on the f ask, closely matching the graphics and colors between them. ɨ e PETG shrink label conforms to the canteen and allows a bit for the curve in the back. T e story of how Two Soldiers and a Marine LLC was created appears on the back of the canteen (and on the company's website at www.iraqvetfoods.com). To work with the concave on the back of the f ask, the back label is a bit narrower than the front. And both pressure-sensitive labels (front and back) for the f ask are made of polypropylene. John Holley, general manager at MPI Label Systems, explains, "We wanted it to be f exible, especially with the back, so they can reach in there and wipe it down." T is f exibility was especially helpful for the f ask's thicker back label, which is a two-ply structure with the story about the company on the bottom ply. Applying the back pressure-sensitive label might seem tricky because of the concave container, but it turned out to be a non-issue for the contract manufacturer and packager, Contract Comestibles (http://contractcomestibles.com) in East Troy, WI. According to owner Andy Gehl, "We've had no problems at all. No unusual amount of setup. It has run extremely well. We've done other multiply labels in the past that didn't run as well." Accommodating entrepreneurs Contract Comestibles has already been in production for this product twice, the f rst a small run of 7,500 units and then a larger run of 20,000. Gehl explains that this is a common production strategy for start-ups. "T e basic rule of thumb is start small and work up," he says. "T ere's always something you look at and say 'Oh, I wish that could be better or diff erent.' You don't want too much inventory of packages you don't want to sell anymore." T is production strategy has served the company well over the years, including with this project. For example, the back graphics on the f ask didn't tell consumers to lift the label to read the company's story on the bottom ply. MPI Label Systems' Holley says, "We have changed the artwork so that the next run will have a 'Lift Here' in the lower right corner to tell the consumer there is more information beneath." Contract Comestibles works with a lot of entrepreneurs and is adept at handling smaller batches and unique products. Gehl says, "ɨ is facility is built to handle what is normally unusual or dif erent. With entrepreneurs, you never know what will come out of their heads next. If you can dream it, somehow we'll f nd a way to do it." U.S. soldiers are used to being adaptive…and self-suf cient. Mandera is using his own trucking company to distribute the product to stores and restaurants. "We want to get into as many retail locations as we possibly can," he says. John Glennon, a business consultant helping Two Soldiers and a Marine LLC, says, "Danny sells the sauce of the trucks and it's very popular. He is also having early discussions with Walmart and many of the big grocery chains—all of whom seem to be interested in selling the sauce and giving them shelf space." 25 www.PackagingDigest.com FALL 2015 // BEST PRACTICES The f ask is often adapted by modern servicemen to hold f avorings, such as barbecue or hot sauce, for adding taste to MREs (meals ready-to-eat). The packaging graphics mirrors the design and color scheme of the company's food trucks. Continued on page 26

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