A fresh perspective

2 April 2019

The right barrier is what makes the difference between a product reaching the consumer in perfect condition or not; it’s an almost-invisible part of the packaging that plays a crucial role in whether consumers are impressed or disappointed. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to brand-owners and film and foil producers to learn how they achieve this.

Squirrel Sisters is a fast-growing London-based high protein snack brand that saw incredible growth in 2018, and looks set for continued success in 2019. Its packaging rebrand has meant upgraded visibility, particularly as its ‘real, honest and good for you’ snack bars and bites are gaining fans across consumer segments, from healthy eating to lunch boxes to shared snacking. Founded by sisters Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, Squirrel Sisters has quickly become an award-winning snack brand, with its mission of ‘helping people make better choices more often’.

Working with branding agency Design Bridge, Squirrel Sisters rebranded its packaging to ensure that it was evolving as the business grows. “Squirrel Sisters is a health and wellness company with a range of award-winning snack bars, we say yes to delicious and no to compromising,” says Gracie Tyrrell. “Our new-look packaging is an evolution of our brand and visual identity. We chose to collaborate with Design Bridge to take us to the next level as we expand into new and wider markets; they are experts in FMCG so they were the natural choice for us.”

With Squirrel Sisters’ brief requiring that a boosted look and increased flexibility for types of packaging, particularly as the popularity of its sharing bags and bars shows no sign of slowing down, the demands on the packaging material is a strict as the design appeal. Tyrrell continues, “Design Bridge were a joy to work with; they immediately got our brand and understood what we needed to achieve from a creative and commercial perspective. Our new packaging reflects the brand story and personality, with quirky touches such as placing an acorn in the negative space of the ‘Q’, which adds extra layers of discovery and storytelling. The feedback has been fantastic; because it’s very ‘us’. The gold foil, which we chose to use to give a sophisticated, premium feel, has also been commented on several times – our customers love it and it really stands out on the shelf.”


 What the materials represent

Squirrel Sisters continued to work with Leeds-based packaging manufacturer OPM, which has been a partner since the start of the brand. Tyrrell says, “We’ve worked with OPM since we launched and it has been brilliant. The materials we use are UV flexographic print on metalised OPP, laminated in-line with a matt soft touch OPP. OPM manufactures all our packaging, including our latest product launch in January 2019; we are launching Squirrel Sisters Share Bags Cacao Orange Raw Bites and Cacao Brownie Raw Bites. Our new share bags are essentially our bestselling snack bar flavours in a different format. It offers our consumer the opportunity to enjoy our products in a different occasion. They’ll be launching with Whole Foods and Ocado.”

Packaging performance is key to long-established brands as well as newer startups, with much-loved 30-year-old premium cereal and muesli brand Dorset Cereals cleverly positioning itself as a high-quality brand that ‘allows for the exploration of adventurous flavours, ingredients and textures’.  Around 12 years ago, Dorset Cereals made the decision to ‘make the leap into boxes from bags. Of course, the muesli is not simply loose in its beautiful boxes, it has to be effectively packed in a transparent film bag, tasked with keeping the product fresh and helping to provide the premium brand experience that Dorset Cereals is known for.

“Dorset Cereals is a premium cereal brand that encourages eaters to slow down and make sure the simple things in life aren’t missed or rushed; to celebrate and cherish the small and special moments in life at breakfast and throughout the day,” says Hayley-Jane Doyle, brand manager at Dorset Cereals. “Our packaging plays a vital role in our brand. From a practical perspective, our packaging keeps our cereal fresh, so that we can feel confident we are providing consumers with the best quality and tasting product, right to the end of its shelf life.”


The perfect look and subsequent appeal

With the ‘sensory experience’ of the textured card outer box important to Dorset Cereals brand, the performance of the inner bag is also carefully defined and executed. Doyle continues, “We see our packaging as one of the best tools to provide a voice for the brand and engage with our consumers. We like to be completely clear and transparent about our products and we always do it in a stylish, slick and contemporary way. For our core mueslis and granolas we use unbleached recyclable board. The inner bag which holds the cereal is not currently widely recyclable but we are working hard on changing this so that we can stay true to the morals of the brand. We need a high enough food barrier in our film to ensure we are keeping our products as fresh as possible, so we are taking the time to get this right.”

For well-known printed packaging film manufacturer TCL Packaging, its awareness of the trends and demands on packaging film is key to its success. Based in Shropshire, TCL Packaging is proud of its ‘flexible approach to production and technical support’ which ensures its customers are given the right packaging film solution for their needs. The company is also keen to deliver solutions that are as responsible as possible, and, with its extensive knowledge of the recyclability and sustainable regulations related to the film and foil sector, its advice is much appreciated.

Markus Jarvstrom, TCL Packaging’s technical director, explains, “One type of film isn’t better or cheaper than another in general terms. Each type has properties that make them most suitable for specific areas; film-based packaging intended for food does not generally contain post-consumer recycled material (PCR), meaning the film materials originate from virgin resin. In the past, a small percentage of PCR was offered for some PET-based films, but these are generally not offered now due to the higher cost compared to using virgin materials.”

TCL Packaging is active in discussing the practicalities of various films for packaging, with the recyclability and compostability key topics. Jarvstrom continues, “Whether or not films are recyclable is a question of definition as there is currently no legislation or regulation that defines what is recyclable. The guideline that is most used by UK retailers is called ‘On-Pack Recycling Label’ (OPRL). This has been compiled by members who include large brands and retailers and is intended to communicate recyclability to consumers. The standard for compostability is EN 13432:2000. This requires that mixed with organic waste 90% of the product has to be composted within a 12 week period and that the resulting humus created during the composting process is of good quality. TCL offers various compostable films, including starch-based PLA cellulose.”

As consumers increasingly value the second-life or end-of-life performance of their packaging, it is an important aspect of the brand identity. While brands may not have the time or capability to research the right materials themselves, there are certainly plenty of experts available to advise on the right film or foil for the job.

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