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Innovative packet or “pod” packaging has recently inundated the laundry detergent category, but the novel delivery system could be a source of potential danger, as more nonfood items adopt food-style packaging, according to Datamonitor, a London-based provider of business information.
Citing press reports that there have been almost 250 calls to poison control centers in the months following the U.S. launch of Tide Pods and similar products, including All Mighty Pacs, Ajax Toss-Ins, Dynamo Toss-Ins, Fab Toss-Ins, Purex UltraPacks, and Arm & Hammer Crystal Burst Power Paks, Datamonitor noted that young children are apparently confusing the colorful laundry detergent packets for candy, a situation made more dangerous by the functionality of the pouches themselves. Designed to take the guesswork and mess out of doing the laundry, the individual-dose pouches dissolve quickly in the wash, but can also do so in a child’s mouth, causing problems in the process.
In response, Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of Tide Pods, the most heavily promoted new laundry packet introduction has said that it would offer the item in more child-resistant packing this summer. The product comes in a clear-plastic tub that a child could mistake for a container of candy.
“The packets used for Tide Pods look somewhat like gummy candies, marshmallow candies or even Asian jelly candies” observed Datamonitor innovation insights director Tom Vierhile. “This isn’t the first time a product ran into trouble based on its similar appearance to candy. Camel Orbs Dissolvable Tobacco has been cited as being very candy-like in appearance. And new dietary supplements in formats like gummy candies and pieces of chocolate candy can also be confusing.”
Added Vierhile: “The current wave of innovation in laundry detergent packets is unprecedented, and a lot of industry players are placing huge bets that this is going to be the ‘next big thing’ in laundry detergent.”
On its end, P&G reportedly spent eight years perfecting Tide Pods, and the company has set a goal of $300 million first-year sales for the product. The company expects single-dose laundry detergents to account for as much as 35 percent of the U.S. laundry market over the next five to 10 years.