This interview is brought to you with support from Placon.
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Consumers today want to know that their food is safe, and many are looking for not only tamper-evident packaging but sustainable packaging, too. NACS Magazine recently interviewed Dan Mohs, chairman and CEO, Placon, about how the right packaging can drive incremental sales for convenience retailers.
Q: What makes Placon a unique partner?
A: Placon is a second-generation, family-owned company founded in 1966 and has been a leading designer and manufacturer of stock and custom-designed plastic thermoforming and injection molded packaging. We work with a range of global customers in the food, medical and retail market space with a primary focus on North America. In 2011, Placon was one of the first thermoforming companies to open an on-site recycling center that uses PET post-consumer recycled bottles and thermoforms to create EcoStar® post-consumer recycled PET material.
Working with customers to listen and truly understand their product and pain points helps us determine the best way to enhance their product and provide the end-user a better experience. Our sales process is hands-on. We invite all customers to visit our Design Center of Excellence at our Madison, Wisconsin, headquarters and to tour the facility where their packaging is made. Having our engineering, quality and production staff on-site at all facilities helps ensure all product development and quality checks are consistently monitored to exceed customer standards.
Q: Why should retailers be thinking about how their foodservice is packaged?
A: Packaging is what protects the product, enhances the shelf appearance and can be a key factor in the consumer purchase decision. Consumers want to see the product to ensure it is fresh and untampered with prior to purchase—they buy with their eyes. The right packaging can and will drive incremental sales. Today, many consumer brands have realized the importance of reducing their overall carbon footprint—which is something we have been focused on since the early 1990s. Nielsen market data tells us that consumers are willing to pay for sustainable packaged products. It is our job to provide our customers with package clarity and performance and with a sustainable message to support their products in a retail setting.
Q: And today, with consumers concerned about safe food handling, the right packaging is even more important.
A: Absolutely. Prior to COVID-19, it was common to see a supermarket with a self-serve soup or salad bar. Today, that landscape has changed, and retailers require tamper-evident or sealed packaging to keep products and ingredients fresh. Our ability to provide a readily available food packaging option, which can include specific features such as tamper-evident, microwave safe and recyclability, are key to enhancing product offerings. Consumers want to know the products they purchase are safe. In some cases, they may want to purchase a meal kit, take it home, pop it in the microwave for a dinner solution in minutes. We provide those specific packaging features within our food packaging portfolio.
Placon offers a variety of foodservice packaging staples such as muffin trays, salad and cookie containers. In addition, our CrystalSeal® Parfait Cups, HomeFresh® Entrée line and GoCubes® product lines offer a variety of tamper-evident, microwave-safe or mix-n-match compartment inserts with base options to support consumer demand for on-the-go convenience food products and at-home meal kits.
Q: Can retailers work with you to design custom packaging that fits their needs?
A: Yes. With more than 150 years of combined design experience, our design team continues to deliver and push the limits. Our team collaborates with customers to develop better packaging. If our customer has a custom package design or simply wants to modify one of our existing food packages in our portfolio, we are here to help them get the best package for their product. Our custom process begins by listening and understanding product and marketing objectives. How your product is produced, transported and displayed on the shelf are important details our design team will take into consideration. Together, we work to create a packaging solution to ensure your product is kept safe, fresh and looking great for the end user. Throughout the process, our team works with you to check that the packaging works within your manufacturing facility or on specific customer processing equipment. We want to make sure we meet all project milestones and delivery dates for your product launch.
Q: How has Placon incorporated sustainability into packaging?
A: At Placon, processing and using post-consumer recycled PET bottles and thermoforms are what differentiates our products. Forward thinking on sustainability helped us differentiate from other thermoform packaging companies. Sustainability is a deep belief of ours—so much so that it is written into our vision statement. We work to reduce our overall carbon footprint by implementing a variety of energy saving programs, water recycling and working with local governments and municipalities, and our sustainability goals don’t stop with just our facilities. We have been using recycled PET since the early 1990s with key retail partners. Our EcoStar® material is made from 75% or more post-consumer recycled PET and is 100% recyclable. When we purchase post-consumer recycled PET bottles and thermoforms, we help keep more than 1 billion PET bottles from going to the landfills each year.
Commitment to recycling PET by reclaiming plastic bottles and thermoforms and turning them back into consumer packaging is how we make simply better packaging. Reuse, recycle and replastic is our vision to get the most out of plastic. Retailers can feel good knowing that they are reducing their total carbon footprint and using a packaging solution that can be recycled and used again.
This article, “Packaging Solution,” appears in the April 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.
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