Packaging: Packing Power

Packaging no longer merely wraps and contains food; rather it’s a billboard for your brand. If used properly, good packaging will not only encourage consumers to buy and love your food, but it can also make your life easier. Australian Baking Business takes a look at five packaging innovations that demand attention, and the creative minds behind designs.

Grab It and Go

While almost every baker and pastry chef would maintain fresh-is-best, pre-sealed grab-and-go options are providing real opportunities for the industry.

Melbourne husband and wife business Charlie’s Cookies is one innovative producer of individually-wrapped treats that is wowing the food service industry. The brand has a delicious range of 20g portion-control cookies and 60g café cookies. There is also a 20g range, a 30g range and eight new 60g flavours, about to launch in the very near future.

“The 60g range, which includes three gluten-free cookies, comes in its own point-of-sale display box, which is perfect for cafés and boutique retailers who simply need to open the box, tuck in the top, and pop it on the counter,” says Jacky Magid, one-half of the Charlie’s Cookies brand.

And while the products may be produced en masse, the flavours are decisively high-end.

“The gluten-free range includes apple cinnamon, white choc and cranberry, and triple-choc chip varieties,” Jacky says.

“Some of the favourites would have to be our white choc macadamia, the chocolate salted caramel, and the peanut butter and choc chip. There is also a breakfast biscuit, which is a meal-in-one.”

The idea of offering a neatly packaged, well-branded treat as a grab-and-go option must be resonating with customers, because Charlie’s Cookies are now the biscuit of choice for a number of conference centres, five-star hotels, airlines and even the Australian Open.

“We find our 20g and 30g individually-wrapped cookies are particularly popular with pastry chefs in big hotels who are so busy making croissants and Danishes that they need support with biscuits. Plus they serve as a suitably hygienic option for kitchen managers that don’t want everyone’s hands in the cookie jar,” Jacky says.

“As you’d expect, the gluten-free cookies are also convenient for establishments that can’t guarantee a gluten-free preparation area.”

With an anti-humidity seal, the cookies also provide a handy back-up option for retailers when fresh stock gets low, or when a customer with a special dietary requirement needs further options.

The Gift of Giving

There is no doubt macarons are one of the most trendy baked items currently on the market. Nonetheless, the visionaries behind high-end patisserie LuxBite have now made macarons even more accessible.

The macaron travel pack ingeniously protects the delicate treats once they leave the store; ensuring the precious cargo gets to its destination in one piece. More specifically, the box is layered with an extra tray and individual inserts, and then double wrapped in foil. Not only does the separation stop the macarons edges from crumbling, but it also prevents the cross-contamination of flavours. What’s more, the foil helps keep the treats at a constantly cool temperature.

“I was inspired by my own woes, when I would take macarons home to my parents in Malaysia,” says LuxBite’s co-owner Yen Yee.

“It’s fine for my mother to receive a slightly crumbled macaron, but it’s not ok for girlfriends or bosses or loved ones who are expecting a treat! A beautiful product from overseas is not complete if it’s not presented as it was in our shop.”

Yen’s sentiment must be shared by the greater population of macaron-lovers, because since bringing in the travel-pack, business has boomed.

“There is no doubt our sales have increased as a result of this travel pack. It’s been particularly popular with international students and visitors from Brisbane and Perth,”

“People used to come to Melbourne and take home chocolates and confectionary, but this goes to show that a little innovation can capture a whole new market.”

LuxBite’s innovative gift-packaging doesn’t stop with the travel pack. The shop stocks bags and boxes in a range of vibrant colours and sizes to represent their varied range of macarons.

“We are very influenced by our travels to Tokyo, and the simple and colourful packaging available on the Japanese market,” Yen says.

“I particularly like our largest box; the gold box because it creates an image of opulence and prestige. Our macarons are a luxurious treat and it’s important for us to represent this in all aspects of the business, whether it be the colours on our walls, the designs of our gift boxes, or the quality ingredients in the macarons themselves.”

Bake-In the Box

With limited water allocations and rising electricity prices, the Australian baking industry is more and more looking to increase efficiency in the kitchen.

Bake-in technology is one way bakery, café and restaurant operators are increasing productivity while reducing product, packaging and labour costs.

While there are a number of bake-in boxes available on both the domestic and international markets, Sydney-based packaging company Kent Paper manufacture the patented Traybon Bake-In Box range – a product that has been widely embraced by wholesales bakeries across the country.

Kent Paper’s managing director Ash Bennett says today’s non-stick, paper technology offers significant advantages over traditional metal baking tins.

“Think of all the processes involved with metal tins; you have to line and spray the tin, bake in the tin, wash the tin, repackage the cake and store the tin – all this takes a lot of labour, water and space,” Ash says.

“So Traybon came up with biodegradable, disposable baking packaging that meant cakes could be transported and sold in the same tray they were baked in.”

The simple fact the product is not packaged in tin also offers its own range of conveniences.

“Tins usually lead to side-trimming, which over time incurs significant disposal costs. However we’ve taken care to ensure the packaging is made from heat-resistant, non-stick cardboard, which means the product doesn’t burn and therefore, no side-trimming is required,” Ash says.

“And because these boxes open up, there is no problem getting the cake out of a moulded tin, ensuring every product has clean, neat edges.”

Add the fact the end user can open the package up, take out a piece of cake, fold-up the box and pop it back in the fridge or freezer, it’s no wonder McDonalds management call the technology “crew proof”.

“Maccas love it because it’s an easy solution right to the end. The trays are great for portioning; even inexperienced staff can open up a box, take out a slice for the McCafe display and close it up. And because most of the boxes are flat with straight edges, they store easily.”

“The box can also be opened up if bakers need to cut the product in a cutting machine. Obviously, you can’t do this in a tin.”

Kent Paper utilise similar bake-in technology for muffin and cupcake trays. The company have developed a patented layered construction, which supports paper cups during baking, giving a uniform muffin shape for easy removal without breakage.

The trays also eliminate the need for re-packaging, because cakes and muffins are baked, cooled, transported and sold in the same tray.

While there is no doubt this kind of technology best-suits large wholesale operations, Ash says the Traybon Bake-In Box range is increasingly being picked up by boutique bakeries.

“Good bakeries like to have unique product, so we do custom sizes and designs. While it’s more cost-effective for businesses to bulk-order bake-in products, there is the option to do a run as small as 500 for a business trial,” Ash says.

“Any shape or design is possible. It’s exciting for us to be able to offer such a flexible product, particularly as it’s taken the best part of 10-years in development. Bakers would not believe how hard it is to create something that seems so logical!”

Paint a Pretty Picture

The cupcake trend is still alive and well in Australia, and continues to be the baked product-of-choice for many baby showers, weddings, birthdays and corporate events. But with more and more bakers jumping on the bandwagon, how can you differentiate yourself from the pack?

Elise Strachan, the creative mind behind Cupcake Addiction on the Gold Coast, has a simple answer to this issue; specialise in custom cupcake packaging with ‘wow’ factor.

Cupcake Addiction sells a range of single cupcake boxes in various colours and patterns. However, it’s Elise’s original Candy Shoppe and Toy Store designs that attract the most attention.

Designed to resemble an old-time candy shop, Elise’s design comes complete with miniature shutters, lollipop trees, a ribbon tie and is even printed with lollies on the inside.

“I don’t have a huge graphic design background, but I know enough. When I started out in the industry six years ago I wanted the pretty pink box to go with a pretty pink cupcake, but as I got more involved my imagination really ran away from me,” Elise says.

“I have grand plans for these adorable boxes. I would really like to design a whole street of little shops; including a minature barber and bar saloon.”

And while Elise clearly enjoys the creative side of her designs, her cupcake boxes originally sprang from a simple logistical need.

“I think I speak for the whole industry here when I say I have problems fitting my cupcakes in standard packaging,” Elise says.

“My cupcakes are large, and are getting higher and higher. A lot of the designs on the market really only allow a little frosting and a few sprinkles. So the candy shop design, which stands at 10cm tall, can really accommodate the most extravagant cupcake designs.”

Be a Greenie

Packaging is a huge part of modern consumerism. There is no doubt consumers’ purchasing decisions are often based on eye-catching designs that stand out from the crowd. Nonetheless, today’s manufacturers also know packaging with environmentally friendly leanings is becoming increasingly sought-after.

Richard Fine, managing director of sustainable packaging company BioPak, says consumers and businesses are savvy when it comes to the environmental impact of manufacturing.

“We are moving into a new era of industrial manufacturing, some even call it the third industrial revolution, where old polluting ways of producing product are a thing of the past and the focus is on sustainable ways of doing business,” Richard says.

“This is particularly relevant to the food industry because packaging is so important; it protects the goods and prolongs shelf life and once it’s useful life has come to an end, it really should not take another couple of generations to disappear, to biograde or to be utilised again.”

As key player in the global packaging industry, Detpak has taken considerable strides to move towards a ‘greener’ future. The company’s Rebbit Environmental Range includes compostable cups, bags and sandwich wedges – all of which contain a biodegradable lining instead of traditional polyethylene lining.

Even Detpak’s bakery bags with windows are 100 per cent compostable in commercial composting facilities, with the board itself sourced from sustainable and ethical sources.

“Compostable bags with biodegradable windows for example satisfy both needs for bakers; it’s a practical package that is also fully compostable, meaning it can be diverted from landfill,” Richard says.

“There are a lot of innovative solutions coming on to the market at the moment; innovations that have moved away from fossil-based resources towards bio-based plastics, sugar cane pulps and paper. But there is always room for improvement. It will be interesting to see where this industry goes moving forward.”

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