A tolerance for biscuits

10 August 2020

A pack must generally do much more than simply and conveniently display and contain a product such as biscuits in readiness for when the consumer spots it on the shelf at a retailer and then purchases it to take away.  Packaging puts a face to the product; it personalises the item and if all of the elements associated with ‘presentation’ come together – irrespective of whether it’s a Custard Cream or a Jammy Dodger the chances are that the consumer will be sugar satisfied and repeat the purchasing process again.

Packaging also allows for the display of information, such as the type of biscuit. For purist this may be the humble Digestive, for those with continental or more exotic tastes, this may be Fig Roll Biscuits. Weight, contents, manufacture, price, sell-by-date and use-by-date and legislative information may also be included. A product and its packaging environmental credentials, whether the packaging components are made from sustainable sources, is bio-degradable, recyclable or is landfill destined also appears along with coupon offers and promotional incentives that encourage future purchasing.  The pack must meet the expectations of the customer, colour fidelity, the colour or colours associated with the brand should be as expected with no deviation, no unexpected surprises, so as to permit ease of recognition 

The packaging technologist must give a certain amount of consideration to the shape of the pack, which in turn has a bearing on the way the product line is stacked on the shop shelf. For instance, when packaging a biscuit in the round there is a tendency that has to be overcome for the round and column configured pack to roll to the back of the shelf or even off of the shelf and onto the floor.  Packaging with fin end seals can be problematic in that they can interlock with adjacent packs. There are various ways in which the pack can be structured and wrapped simply and with little fuss, unfortunately such packs can look disadvantaged and this impacts on the perceived quality of the biscuits. Pack formats such as block bottom bags don’t necessarily escape criticism as from a logistical and stacking perspective, they only allow for one layer of packs to be put on the shelf.

Designers, marketing associates and packaging converters sometimes have to overcome prejudices and erroneous perceptions that can influence whether or not the consumer follows through and makes the purchase.  For instance, consumers often associate firm tight wraps with premium quality biscuits, those which can command a premium price. Loose filmic-

wrapped biscuits are quite a different matter.  Consumers tend to think that loose wrapped items are more likely to contain broken biscuits and are often avoided as a consequence.   Packages that are comprised of a single polypropylene wrap may not feel as firm as structures made from cellophane or multi-wraps of paper but the reality is that both the single PP wrap and the multi-wrap packaging afford equal protection.

Biscuits are often bought on impulse rather than being part of a regular shop. In fact, biscuits are often viewed from a marketing perspective as being closely affiliated with chocolate, confectionery and some snacking product categories such as crackers and crispbreads that together with grapes and cheese complete a meal and which, from a marketing perspective make biscuits a component of a desert or after dinner meal. 

Although the marketing of ‘old favourites’ such as Digestives, Bourbon and Custard Creams continues, brand owners and marketers are trying to persuade consumers that there is more to biscuits than at first meets the eye. Although European sales of biscuits are generally regarded as being flat and close to maturity, markets in Asia, in China and Japan continue an upward trajectory as biscuit and new products such as Biscuits-in-a-Can come on the scene.

Canned biscuits or at least the various par-cooked ingredients are supplied in composite containers that consists of a paperboard cylinder, a plastic lid and generally a thin tin base plate. Biscuits-in-a Can offers convenience and take anywhere capability. Their unique selling point or USP is that they can be quickly baked or heated up and the aroma, taste and texture closely approximate that of freshly baked biscuits. Biscuits-in-a-can and a number of other products being developed and starting to come on the scene, are being marketed as either an accompaniment to breakfast or even a replacement for a mid-morning meal. They can be served with honey, cream cheese, chocolate spread and even with a cooked English breakfast.

Regardless of how we print or present the product that we are working on to the wider world, quality, appearance, form and function; the ease and the way in which the product  stakes its claim to retail space in the relevant aisle and on the appropriate display shelf of a supermarket is critical. Even with modern and highly sophisticated colour measuring instruments, one cannot be complacent – colour or colours must look good to the eye, regardless of how they sometimes read on an instrument. Colour filters our humanity, our perception of the world and our place in it. Colour is closely associated with the brand; it helps build brand recognition and effectively acts as a kind of roadmap. Slight variations in colour can advance or adversely affect design effectiveness and have enormous economic implications with regard to sales if a colour or colours don’t work for some reason.

Given the role colour plays in communication, in marketing products and in shifting goods off a shelf and into a shopping trolley, some form of monitoring and control device or product development tool needs to be in place that brings visual perceptible and acuity as well as process variables under control.

Colour communication devices such as the K Printing Proofer produces high quality proofs using gravure, gravure-offset or flexo inks. Designed and developed by RK Print Coat Instruments the K Printing Proofer features electronically engraved printing plates and is designed so that two or more inks may be printed simultaneously for comparison purposes – registration is included for overprinting. Compact in design the K Printing Proofer is able to accommodate a wide range of flexible substrates including, films, foils, board, PVC, etc., which may be printed or laminated.  Printability is ensured with fine micrometre control of impression and doctoring settings. To round off this description of an all-round machine, the K Printing Proofer, when fitted with the K Printing Proofer’s gravure head can also be used for the evaluation of wet or dry laminated samples.

The K Control Coater is also in the portfolio of product development and quality control/product monitoring devices from RK.  The K Control Coater enables users to quickly produce accurate and repeatable samples that can be used for quality control and presentation purposes, for R & D, computer colour matching and much else besides, even paint charts. This system is available in two versions, the model 101 which offers a coated area of up to 170mm x 250mm, and the model 202 that offers a coated area of 325mm x 250mm – when fitted with meter bar.

The K Control Coater offers infinitely variable coating speeds of 2 and 15 m/min and the controlled speed and pressure ensures repeatable results. Vacuum, magnetic, heated and glass beds are available, each of which can be easily added to the base machine for best possible results for a wide range of applications.

The vacuum beds for the K Control Coater are of two types, type A is recommended when coating onto delicate or extensible surfaces, such as PP or alu-foil. Type B is a smooth aluminium faced bed with vacuum applied via multiple holes and is suitable for more rigid materials. Type B is especially recommended when coating onto paint charts with gap applicators.   A magnetic type C bed is suitable for use when coating onto magnetic substrates. A heated – type D can be used for those applications that require heat, such as hot melts, etc.



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