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    EDITOR’S NOTE

    As a card-carrying member of an increasingly large number of consumers who frequently base their purchase decisions on how a product is packaged, I was happy to have a chance to check out Packforum Americas, Sealed Air Corp.’s Atlanta-based innovation-and-learning center for the food packaging industry, while in town for the recently wrapped IDDBA show.

    As a card-carrying member of an increasingly large number of consumers who frequently base their purchase decisions on how a product is packaged, I was happy to have a chance to check out Packforum Americas, Sealed Air Corp.’s Atlanta-based innovation-and-learning center for the food packaging industry, while in town for the recently wrapped IDDBA show.

    Indeed, the sleek, functional 28,000-square-foot facility -- which was designed to give executives within the allied supermarket, foodservice and food-processing industries a first-hand, 360-degree view of Cryovac’s food-packaging systems, programs and services -- served to further reinforce my belief that packaging is far more than a mere receptacle to transport a product from shelf to table. From a strictly business standpoint, I view packaging as the indispensable pillar that supports a brand’s position. From a personal perspective, the way a product is packaged often becomes a deal-breaker that not only influences my general opinion of a brand, but also solidifies my loyalty and repeat purchase behavior -- or not.

    Whenever I can help it, I shun inferior, cumbersome, over-killed and/or difficult-to-open packages in favor of sturdy, simplified, easy-to-open/store applications that might also give me a chance to learn a little something about its contents, such as nontraditional product uses, storage information -- and even a tidbit about the company itself.

    Cognizant that developing product packaging that better connects with my -- and countless other consumers’ -- heightened expectations doesn’t occur in a vacuum (weak pun intended), my stroll through Packforum Americas in early June handily hammered home my belief that brand marketers of all stripes can and should (if they haven’t recently done so) conduct a collaborative evaluation of their “packaging profile” to determine its impacts on the total supply chain, including, of course, the end user.

    And if arriving at new directions about future food packaging applications can be conducted in a setting that’s tailor-made for sparking big “blue-sky” ideas like Packforum (where I happened to cross paths with a trio of fresh food executives from a major regional grocery chain during my walk-through), all the better.

    Feeling more like a high-end ad firm vs. a conventional test lab, the facility features a fully merchandised fresh meat department, along with refrigerated meats and vegetables, kitchen-ready meals, and cheeses and deli meats, to help customers see food packaging through the eyes of consumers. It also houses two professional kitchens -- one, in a theater-style setting for demonstrations, and a second, back-of-the-house foodservice kitchen to test food packages in a real-world setting. But the real lifeblood of the facility is the packaging equipment demo area showcasing more than a dozen systems in operation, which invites customers to test-drive products in multiple formats in the adjacent “production area” forum.

    Parting Thought: Located 10 minutes from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the open, airy, comfortable facility -- inclusive of large and small meeting rooms, facility-wide wireless Internet, and private workstations -- is an ideal setting for off-site meetings and educational events. A multipurpose meeting room with seating for 80  can also be arranged as needed for presentations or meetings of all sizes.

    Retailers and suppliers seeking more information about how to reserve Packforum Americas and/or take a virtual tour can visit www.packforumamericas.com.

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