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Standup pouches vie for gourmet market.

The following is an interview with Jeffrey Teich, a Minneapolis-based trend analyst specializing in coffee and packaging. His consulting background includes working with such companies as Colgate Palmolive, General Foods, General Mill, and Lever Brothers. He can be reached for comments at (800) 451-5291.

Q: The specialty coffee industry is enjoying phenomenal growth in the consumer market. In what ways is this growth affecting the packaging of specialty coffee?

A: It is creating new demands for designers, packagers, and roasters and is generating'more competition to fulfill those demands. Four or five years ago at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) convention in Oakland, California, there was only one coffee package exhibitor. This year, five packaging companies exhibited at the Boston SCAA convention.

There are three types of packaging that dominate the specialty coffee market: brick pack, standup, and PET, a plastic container which resembles a mayonnaise jar. As a result of consumer demand for convenience, the trend is moving toward the standup package, which has a pleated, contoured bottom and is tapered to the top. This style of packaging was rooted in the food industry long before it was picked up by coffee packagers. For example, the tapered foil design was popularized by Capri Sun beverages.

Q: What convenience factors does the standup package offer over the alternatives?

A: Resealability is the main attraction for standup packages exceeding 2 ounces. The brick pack with a tin tie - a metal strip with adhesive on the back of it - and the paper tin tie bag have been the standard packaging options available that offered some form of recloseability. Typically, with these packages, the consumer must roll down the brick pack or paper bag and fold the tin ties over.

On the standup package, you don't have to do that; it is more user friendly. The resealable feature is built right in. The consumer does not have to roll the package up or down to open or close it. The design imitates the Ziploc Gripper Zipper feature, which has also been popularized in the food industry. For instance, a number of cheese companies are using this method, as are nut and raisin packagers. People are looking for this style of packaging.

Q: What other advantages does the standup package offer?

A: There is a safety seal on the top that is tamper proof, the design allows for transparency, and it is environmentally desirable.

Q: What environmental benefit does the standup package offer?

A: There is less packaging to dispose of. One 10-ounce PET jar takes up as much space in a landfill as 100 flexible coffee packages. In addition, researchers are attempting to develop a recyclable material that could be used for this type of packaging.

The standup package also eliminates excess waste in the store. For brick packs that don't have a reclosable feature, the consumer who doesn't have a home grinder will open the package, pour the beans into the coffee grinder, then transfer the ground beans into a paper tin tie bag. So they are using two bags for one pound of coffee, whereas with the standup pouch, they can use one bag for one pound of coffee by placing the ground beans into the original resealable bag.

Q: Don't the standup packages take up more room on the shelf than the brick packs?

A: While the retailer can fit two brick packs in the same space as one standup pouch, the gourmet industry is demanding standup packages because they offer such high visibility for product display, they're in demand. Space is less relevant than the convenience of the resealable zipper. Buyers of specialty coffee typically are college-educated, they know what they want and are willing to pay the price. They want an added service - freshness. The reclosable feature is a service to the specialty customer.

Q: How common is the standup package today?

A: Approximately 85 to 100 companies are using the standup packaging coast to coast and internationally for both whole bean and pre-ground coffee. This packaging is available in 2 oz., 8 oz., 12 oz., and, 16 oz. standup pouches. Additionally, 2-pound and 5-pound resealable coffee packages are being used.

Q: How does standup packaging compare price-wise for the roaster to brick packs with tin ties?

A: It's price competitive to the other packages on the market.

Q: Will the standup package ever be sold to supermarkets as an alternative to the paper bag with the tin tie for the use of customers grinding in-store?

A: As we speak, a package is on the drawing board that would be cost effective for the supermarkets to use in this manner.

Q: What can you see on the horizon for the relationship between roasters and coffee packagers?

A: Many packaging companies currently require the coffee roaster to order 25,000 or 50,000 packages of one specific size package. Minimum package orders should be lowered to about 500 per case. This will allow the small coffee roaster not to have to invest a prohibitive amount of dollars in inventory in order to meet their packaging needs. By working together, both coffee roasters and packagers will benefit from increased sales.

Susan Friedman, a former editor of Gourmet Retailer, has her own company that specializes in public relations and marketing promotions. She is based in Miami, Florida. Tel: (305)532-5204.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:coffee packaging industry, Jeffrey Teich
Author:Friedman, Susan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:890
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