By Emily Page, October 15, 2018
Joe Tarnowski and Emily Page are passionate about product development and have quick advice for entrepreneurs on how to use packaging to extend shelf life. After you get the gist of these 4 natural methods, you can reach out to your packaging supplier to find the best application to your product.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT FILMED AT ECRM OCTOBER 2018: Quick Tips For Beginings To Extend Shelf Life With Packaging
Joe Tarnowski: Hey guys, I'm back with Emily Page from Pearl Resourcing. Today we're going to talk about the importance of designing packaging with shelf life in mind, obviously for food service and grocery related products.
So first, why is it important? I mean, this might seem obvious, but you know?
WHY SHELF LIFE IS IMPORTANT
Emily Page: Shelf life is important for two reasons:
#1, for consumers to be able to enjoy it. You want your consumer to be able to purchase the product and actually enjoy it before it goes bad, and has a funky taste or a funky appearance. Otherwise you leave a terrible impression on them, and they want to get their money's worth. So, you want to serve your customer by having great shelf life.
#2, for retailers to maximize their opportunity to sell. Logistics takes a long time and there are temperature changes that put your product at risk of not being sellable. You have lead times to manufacture a product, you have to package it, then you have to ship it in a truck, then it's got to get on the shelf at the grocery store. So, there's actually this need that you have to preserve your product from the moment that you manufacture it to the point where a customer even could possibly purchase it.
Joe Tarnowski: And buyers feel more comfortable if it has a little bit longer shelf life versus more selling opportunities, correct?
Emily Page: ... Yeah. They don't want to risk losing product either, so it's in service of everybody in the whole supply chain. Getting to the point of sale is thinking through your shelf life and trying to find a strategy that can maximize and optimize that. Ideally without adding chemicals that change the taste, or that just isn't natural or safe.
"Packaging can be a way that you can avoid using chemicals for preservation." - Emily Page
Joe Tarnowski: Okay. How can you do that with packaging?
PACKAGING CAN EXTEND SHELF LIFE IN 4 WAYS:
1. REMOVE OXYGEN
Emily Page: That's what's so cool is that packaging can be a way that you can avoid using chemicals.
One of the first things that packaging can affect is the type of machinery that you can use that will allow you to get better shelf life. Fresh foods, like salads and other things that can kind of go bad quickly with oxygen because of bacteria that live on that plus sugar in the product.
"Fresh foods, like salads and other things that can kind of go bad quickly with oxygen because of bacteria that live on that plus sugar in the product." - Emily Page
You can use something called gas flushing to remove oxygen from the product to keep it fresh.
If you have a type of material that is non-porous like plastics, you can flush the packaging with nitrogen, that removes the oxygen so the product doesn't corrupt as quickly.
Joe Tarnowski: Gotcha.
2. PREVENT OXYGEN COMING IN
Emily Page: Number two, you use something like a Cryovac, which encases your product in packaging and removes the all the oxygen out of there so it doesn't actually go bad.
Joe Tarnowski: So oxygen is the enemy when it comes to these situations?
Emily Page: It is. For bacteria, yeah. Like string cheese and a lot of meats, you'll see them in those Cyrovac plastic peels. That is Cryovac.
Emily Page: Yeah, you can have a semi-rigid or you can have flexible versions of that. You need to have machinery to be able to do that. So either you as a factory need purchase it, or you need to have a co-packer that has this capability, but it can add shelf life to your product.
3. PROTECT FROM LIGHT
A 3rd way to increase shelf life is to make packaging non-translucent so that you don't have exposure to light. Light, as wonderful as it is, it also corrupt products. So it's good to have special barriers like metal or plastic or finishes on glass, so it's not opaque to extend shelf life.
"Light, as wonderful as it is, it also corrupt products. So it's good to have special barriers like metal or plastic or finishes on glass, so it's not opaque to extend shelf life." -Emily Page
Joe Tarnowski: But, because it's really important to see the product, and especially with food, but non-translucent. What is involved with that?
Emily Page: Yeah. You can have different layers of plastic where you could have metalized film, for example, so that there's one layer of plastic, one letter layer of metal, and one layer of plastic again, to protect the products from touching metal if it's at all sensitive to that, and it can allow non-permeation of the sunlight as well as oxygen, so it helps to preserve your product. It's really simple to do. It's very affordable.
They have recyclable versions of that, and as well as biodegradable versions, which are way more expensive, which is why they're not so much on the market. But these options are available, and really easy to use, and could add shelf life to your product.
Joe Tarnowski: Okay. This works with food service too, right? Like the example we talked about?
4. REDUCE PACK SIZE
Emily Page: Yes. So a fourth way, is making smaller case pack sizes which applies to food service. When I eat kettle corn, which I'm totally addicted to, I open a large bag and I try to save it so I don't eat the whole thing at once. But if I don't eat it within a few days, it all goes bad.
Joe Tarnowski: That's what I do.
"Small pack size can help increase shelf life - creating smaller serving sizes allows the oxygen to only get into the version that I'm opening so they last longer." -Emily Page
Emily Page: I know. It's so hard to do. So, pack size can help increase shelf life - creating smaller serving sizes allows the oxygen to only get into the version that I'm opening. When it comes to food service, as a great example, I've made frozen appetizers in large cases, and we had plastic bags that you'd have to break open to be able to get into that. These are stored in the freezer, and you buy huge amounts of them, and you serve them at some hotel or restaurant. An employee who's rushed, who wants to do the right thing but doesn't have the time, goes in, opens the bag, and loosely ties it back up. Then the product ends up being exposed to the oxygen in the freezer, and starts tasting funny or drying out completely.
Joe Tarnowski: Yeah. It has that refrigerated kind of taste. Yeah.
Emily Page: By adding an individual wrapping around each tray, we're able to eliminate that issue where things don't go bad so much because they're smaller serving sizes. That means additional packaging. It means a little bit of additional labor, which can be frustrating, or you got to think it through when you're planning your pricing, or planning how you pack it all out. But it makes a huge difference for the person who bought it to be able to enjoy it. Therefore, you get better repeat purchases. So, pack size can help.
Joe Tarnowski: Great, well thank you. If anybody wants to get in touch with Emily, you could reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll have the information in the post. Thank you for joining us.
Joe Tarnowski is the VP of Marketing for ECRM, one of the best trade shows for emerging and launching brands. To connect to Joe find him online: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarnowskijoseph/.
Emily Page has over 12 years of experience in selling consumer brand products in the food industry with packaging. She is the CEO and founder of Pearl Resourcing (http://pearlresourcing.net), an international packaging and product development company where she has launched multiple 7-figure brands into retail and e-commerce with 2-5x growth in sales. Follow her on LINKEDIN for regular articles and updates: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilypage/.
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