The exploding demand for premium pet foods, coupled with a desire for convenience packaging, has opened a new arena for pet food manufacturers. And it is the latter that is driving the development of innovative solutions in packaging. Ease of use in storage, preparation and disposal are all features that compel a consumer to make a purchasing decision.
With the ever-growing abundance of premium dry pet food choices available on today’s retail shelves, deciding what to feed your pet has become a tough job. Despite veterinarians’ recommendations of dry kibble instead of wet food for optimal pet health, one third of dog owners already introduce wet dog food mixed with dry food to ensure their pet gets the nutrition they need and the taste they prefer.
A dog’s brain is 10 percent the size of a human brain; however the portion of their brain that controls the sense ofsmell is 40 times greater, making their sense of smell 1000 times more sensitive than that of human. Adding heat and moisture heightens the smell of dry food which increases their appetite.
In a control group of 100 dogs, research showed that nearly 100 percent of those dogs immediately ran to the bowl with a warm moist additive as opposed to the same bowl of plain dry food without any additives. High scores such as these are very unusual in consumer testing and are typically achieved only when a product is radically different from existing products.
The pet food industry is just beginning to welcome new advances in packaging that offer better performance than either the standard multiwall paper bag or metal can options that have been prominent for decades. Already familiar to consumers in various human food markets, the rigid cup with a peel-off adhesive lid offers several serving sizes for pet food. Rigid plastic packaging is lightweight, portable, and easy to use at home or on the go. For consumers, it is safer than metal cans or glass because there are no sharp metal ends and no breakage.
Benefits for the pet food manufacturer include a full coverage 360° image area on the shrink label with additional area on the lid for showcasing high impact graphics. By using this packaging technology, pet food manufacturers are able to distinguish themselves from the typical bagged, pouched and canned items of their competition. Additionally, the rigid container format is ideal for extending shelf life.
The introduction of a heated, moist supplement for dry dog food in an easy-to-use package creates a great new option for dog lovers who desire to feed their dogs a warm meal.
Creating an experience
Wexford Farms is an emerging privately owned pet food company founded by veterans of the pet care industry. With a combined 75 years experience in the pet food business, the founders set out to make a huge impact in the way consumers care for their beloved animals.
Being pet owners themselves, the innovators at Wexford Farms understand that today’s dog owners treat their pets like children, concerned about their physical comfort and emotional well-being. They embarked upon a project to revolutionize the pet feeding experience. Their efforts resulted in Warm Ups Dog Food Enhancers, an oatmeal-based product made with all-natural ingredients and essential vitamins and minerals to help create a warm, wholesome meal that dogs thoroughly enjoy.
Pet ownership is increasing, and the way people care for their pets is becoming more involved. Many pet owners are actively seeking out smaller pet food companies that sell products with higher quality ingredients. They are choosing foods for their pets that resemble their own food in appearance and preparation. Pets have become more than just animals; they have become family.
Creating a powerful brand presence
Introduced in March 2013, Warm Ups is the first creation launched by Wexford Farms. Recognizing the importance of creating a brand presence, Wexford Farms turned to Printpack (www.printpack.com) for all of their packaging needs including the rigid cup, lidding and flexible shrink sleeve.
With 57 years of experience, Printpack, a manufacturer and converter of flexible and specialty rigid packaging, works with its customers to optimize their packaging and go-to-market strategies.
Packaged in a rigid polypropylene cup with a high-gloss shrink label and easy-peel barrier lidding, this product pops out as something new on the pet food aisle. Images of dog breeds that are similar to the pets of the company founders and recognized by pet owners across the U.S. are pictured on the package. With oven mitts in mouth, the dogs look happy to have a “home-cooked meal.”
Printpack designed the polypropylene cup with the strength to withstand hot temperatures without warping or loss of structure. The lidding offers protection and shelf stability by creating a tight seal. It also doubles as a canvas for creative graphics. Shrink sleeves contour to the cup to create a high-gloss, visually appealing brand identity.
Nurturing with convenience
Cooking for our loved ones has long been a family tradition. Warm Ups now allows you to extend that tradition to your dog.
Warm Ups Dog Food Enhancers facilitate the experience of “cooking” for your pet. The bowl offers the appropriate serving size without the hassle of measuring and there is no need to wash a dish. The product never has to touch the stove, microwave or any other heating mechanism which makes cross contamination of dog and human food a low risk.
With innovations from Printpack, the cutting-edge package design was created to provide an uncomplicated cooking method and effortless disposal. The rigid bowl and easy-peel barrier lidding forms the framework for a container that allows a dog owner to prepare a meal in three easy steps:
1. Peel off the protective lid and add hot tap water to the mix.
2. Pour or spoon Warm Ups over your dog’s regular food.
Then, just watch your dog enjoy his warm meal. The dog leaves a spotless, licked-clean bowl, and the container can be disposed of or set aside for recycling.
By placing a proven dog food concept in a functional and convenient package, consumers are able to nurture their pets with a no-fuss, no-muss approach. And with four different formulations, there is a specific solution for any dog’s nutritional needs.
Collaboration is the key to success
There is a wealth of opportunity for all parties when a quality pet food manufacturer and an experienced packaging solution company collaborate to address consumer trends. An original product can be brought to life with innovative packaging that meets marketing needs and performance satisfaction.
Printpack is a major converter of flexible and specialty rigid packaging with a more than 50-year history of innovation. Every product Printpack designs and produces addresses a real-world marketplace challenge for its customers.
This extensive knowledge of the packaging world compelled Wexford Farms to connect with Printpack early in the research and development stage. Utilizing Printpack’s expertise in machine knowledge, graphic design and packaging technologies, a complete packaging concept was created.
“Already having an established, trusted relationship made this project a pleasure to collaborate on,” says Printpack Account Manager Charlene May. “It was refreshing to work with Wexford Farms from the inception of their new idea to the introduction of their company to the pet food market. We were able to provide a total packaging solution along with the technological knowledge needed to launch this great new product.”
Printpack’s solutions run the gamut from advancing customer needs for dynamic new products, to repositioning sales channels, to optimizing performance and value across a wide spectrum of consumer goods markets. Printpack’s comprehensive experience with packaging and print technologies allows the company to tailor solutions for each individual customer’s requirements.
“Printpack has been a great partner and the convenience of the one-stop shop streamlined the process of launching Warm Ups. By providing all of our packaging needs, we expect to increase brand awareness with innovative packaging ideas,” says Rich Rothamel, COO, Wexford Farms.
Printpack’s next project for Wexford Farms is to use the same packaging concepts from the first product to create packaging for their second product line. This product will be a cup of dry dog food with the Warm Ups Dog Food Enhancers already included. Four different serving sizes will be available to fit the needs of every breed. This item was revealed at SuperZoo 2013, and is expected to be another groundbreaking development in the pet-care world.