Packaging Digest

  1. 10 traditional turkey packages with modern messaging

    Tradition may be at the heart of this year’s Thanksgiving turkey packages but contemporary icons and healthy messages show these brands’ inner souls. Gluten free? Check. Farm raised? Without hormones? Yep and yep. All natural? You bet. Minimally processed? Sure, throw that one in, too.

    More than 45 million turkeys grace tables in the U.S. on Thanksgiving, which is about one-sixth of the turkeys sold each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vast majority of turkeys I saw in stores were frozen, which gels with stats on turkey sales at 80% frozen and 20% fresh. It will be interesting to see how this ratio changes as many Millennials are more interested in buying fresh for health and taste reasons.

    Nearly all of the turkey packages in different grocery stores in the Chicagoland area were vacuum-packed bags covered with netting to add a carrying handle. Ho-hum…except for some standout graphics.

    Here’s a mini feast of fowl packages designed to help these birds find good homes for the holiday.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


    1. Throwback photo puts family first

    Butterball knows tradition and shows it with a nostalgic photo of a happy family enjoying a holiday dinner, with a whopper of a turkey at the center (see image above). The photo—which looks like it was taken in the 1950s when the world was slower and simpler than today—connects with the brand’s Throwback Photo Sweepstakes, which is explained in a box. Not quite Norman Rockwell but close.

    An icon in the lower left on the front also says the product is “American Humane Certified.”


    Next: 2. Easy to get this bird out of the bag


    2. Easy to get this bird out of the bag

    This Butterball Fresh all natural premium young turkey—sold in the freezer case, oddly enough—was raised without hormones, if that matters to you. Like its Butterball cousin above, an icon promotes the product as “American Humane Certified.” Language and an illustration at the top tout the package’s easy-open feature. No more runny slime on the scissors.


    Next: 3. But is it organic?

    3. But is it organic?

    In case you missed the two logos and the large text in the center, this Foster Farms Fresh Organic Turkey is organic. The fresh-not-frozen fowl commanded a premium price at $2.99 per lb. Signs in the store said it was available in two genders: hens and toms. But the labels were not clear which was which. Explicit instructions on the back could either reassure or intimidate an unskilled cook.

    A man who looked like he was in his 30s asked me and another older female shopper what the difference was between this turkey and others nearby that were more than half the price. OK, guys don’t read directions. I get it. But how did he miss that this is ORGANIC? Or does he not know that organic usually means higher price? The other lady and I nicely explained it, as we were on our best behavior for the holiday.


    Next: 4. Convenience goes Cajun


    4. Convenience goes Cajun

    Jennie-O Oven Ready branches out into new flavor territory with its Cajun Style turkey. The orange band and yellow text say “spicy” to me. How about you? And is it a top selling point that this comes without neck or giblets? I know the “No thawing” and “From freezer to oven” convenience features got me to put a bag in my cart (although it was the more traditional flavor). I also like the integral handle on this bag, but I did see a lot of broken handles on other bags. Perhaps the plump birds are heavier this time of year.


    Next: 5. Best laid plans go awry


    5. Best laid plans go awry

    From the drawing front and center on this vacuum bag, you can tell this is a hen, but bad placement of the in-store label on all the packages in this freezer case ruins the branding for Southern Hens. How unfortunate.


    Next: 6. Festive and basic at the same time


    6. Festive and basic at the same time

    The Festive Basted Young Turkey uses a contemporary san-serif font for the copy on a very basic package design. Not too surprising for this value brand, selling for $0.93 per lb. An unexpected bonus: The netting adds an element of sparkle to the Festive brand name.


    Next: 7. Best of both ages


    7. Best of both ages

    I really like this package from Honeysuckle White, a brand of Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. At first I was confused because I wasn’t familiar with the Honeysuckle White brand name. I thought that was the flavor and I couldn’t figure out what the brand was called. But copy on the back helped clear that up.

    The packaging for this Frozen Young Turkey looks somewhat retro yet feels upscale and contemporary. Front and center is the tagline “Honest • Wholesome • Quality” and the words are reinforced by the imagery. A black-and-white photo becomes the backdrop at the top of the package, showing a farm scene. The graphics also call attention to a Featured Farm by name: Holliday Family Farm. This looks preprinted, though, rather than variable information added online so it might not be the farm this particular turkey hails from. And the words are a little too subtle in the light-gray text. But it does connect with an origin, which is important to some customers.

    The photo and Featured Farm are duplicated on the back, too, along with the preparation and cooking instructions and Nutrition Facts box.

    The “All Natural” claim has an asterisk for clarification, which is “Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients. Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones or steroids in poultry.” In case you miss this fine print, the package also calls out “No added steroids, hormones, preservatives”, as well as Gluten Free, which not all turkeys are.


    Next: 8. It’s cooked, but not a goose!


    8. It’s cooked, but not a goose!

    The Butterball Fully Cooked Oven Baked young turkey has got some impressive curves, a generous breast and finely formed legs—all the more appealing with its tight wrap and a succulent golden background. You can visualize the finished bird on a platter on your festive table. But the convenience will cost you, at a hefty $2.99 lb.


    Next: 9. I’m so confused


    9. I’m so confused

    Echelon Foods Turducken Premium Roast caught my eye right away because of its all-green wrap amid the sea of white and blue colors on other poultry in the freezer case. However, the graphic design is dated and lacks sophistication for this modern “symphony of flavors.” It shows a square photo with heavy black outline, and old-fashioned ribbons and a red star for the callouts. The juxtaposition of a modern quick-response (QR) code at the bottom is jarring, but welcome for smartphone-wielding shoppers.


    Next: 10. The other poultry

    10. The other poultry

    Not a fan of turkey even though it’s the go-to protein for the Thanksgiving meal? I spied Maple Leaf Farm’s Duck in color-coded packages, which I thought denoted different flavors. But upon closer look, it's different colors for the same product: Duck with Orange Sauce Packet. An unfortunate display of old and new design side-by-side? The orange color blocks make sense (considering the sauce), so I’m assuming that’s the new design. The brown looks…unappetizing…burnt? But is the green text more contemporary than the black text? The san-serif font feels modern to me.



    Learn about the latest developments in packaging design at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Wednesday, November 25, 2015
    Turkey is the main meal for 88% of Americans, according to the National Turkey Federation. Package graphics play a role in their sales.
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  2. The case of the unchecked checklist

    Mary stopped by to see me. She had a problem. It seems like an occupational hazard. Nobody ever seems to stop by just to have a cuppa and swap sea stories.

    "I am a big believer in checklists," Mary told me. "My team and I have spent a lot of time developing checklists for changeover, preventive maintenance and common repairs. I can't get my mechanics to use them and then they forget to do things. Any thoughts?"

    I gave her a cup of coffee anyway. "I understand the problem, Mary. Your mechanics, and other technicians, are skilled at what they do. They see checklists as sort of an insult. Why would an expert need instructions? It is a culture problem."

    "I know that, KC. What can I do about it?"

    "Fiddlesticks on unchecked checklists. Dr. Atul Gawunde at Harvard had the same problems in operating rooms that you have in the plant. You should get copies of “The Checklist Manifesto” and get them to read it. If they are not readers, there are a number of videos by him, long and short, on YouTube explaining his thinking on why checklists are critical in OR's, aviation and other industries.

    "Also tell them the story of Jeffrey Skiles, co-pilot on USAir-1549. As they were on an unpowered glide path from Laguardia to the Hudson river, the first thing Skiles did was pull out a paper checklist for emergency engine restart. He managed to get through it twice before the water landing.

    “If it is good enough for him, it is good enough for your team.”


    Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery ( and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on



    See a host of new ideas in packaging machinery, materials and more at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Wednesday, November 25, 2015
    Video of Awjs8DNrm84
    Even experienced people should use checklists.
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  3. Connected Machinery and Industry 4.0 rely on sensors like these
    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    Sensors provide the needed real-time information for helping push packaging machines and operations to the next level of automation. Check out these three examples.


    A presentation by Corey Morton, director of technology solutions, B&R Industrial Automation Corp., last week at SouthPack in Orlando centered on the crucial role of sensors and related devices for Connected Machinery, the Smart Factory and Industry 4.0. He used as an example a wraparound case packer and pointed to sensors ranging from proximity sensors to machine vision sensors—also think bar code readers that play a role as well—to passive radio-frequency identification tags to devices that provide readouts of temperature, voltages, positioning, frequency and voltage.

    With that in mind, we present three new photoelectric sensors that provide the crucial data for quantitative and qualitative indication of what’s happening on a packaging production line.


    First up is a new range of compact ultrasonic sensors, constructed of thermoplastic or stainless steel (both shown above), introduced this month by Carlo Gavazzi. The sensors provide long sensing distances up to 800mm, in spite of their compact thread length of just fractionally more than 38mm. The sensors are IP67 rated, and digital and analog output versions are available.


    Next: A colorful sensor


    Color sensors for automation applications from EMX Industries Inc. provide verification differentiated by color. The ColorMax-1000 provides faster sensing with greater control in seeing up to 15 colors in Red-Green-Blue intensity. A new white balance adjustment feature allows the entry of correction factors applied to the RGB color measurements through adjustment of sensor readings. Traditional color sensors output only a "match/no match" condition, but the ColorMax-1000 also outputs the analog values for each RGB reading: It’s not just color, it signals how much color, to enable tighter control. A Windows application program (as shown above) makes set-up and color recognition programming easy.


    Next: Sensor with automatic background suppression


    The latest self-contained Model S18-2 photoelectric sensor from Banner Engineering is available in fixed-field background suppression mode configurations. The compact, self-contained sensors provide up to six detection ranges from 30mm to 200mm applicable to diverse cost-sensitive and high-volume applications. S18-2 sensors feature a highly visible output, and dual-function power and stability indicators.



    B and R Industrial Automation
    Banner Engineering
    Sensors like these provide the eyes for automated packaging lines.
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  4. Demands on pharma are changing—and so is the packaging support

    With patient needs changing and pharmaceutical supply chains evolving, pharmaceutical manufacturers face numerous challenges. One contract packager explains how it, too, is evolving to provide the necessary support. 

    Pharmaceutical manufacturers are navigating a changing marketplace. There’s greater variety in drug-delivery formats to support new formulations, new modes of dosing, and new users—in many cases the patients themselves. There’s also greater demand for item identification and tracking to support more-complex supply chains. PMP News asked Jeff Benedict, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Sharp Packaging Solutions, to weigh in on these changes, the challenges they present, and some potential solutions.  

    PMP: Can you describe some of the specific challenges the pharmaceutical industry is currently facing?

    Benedict: As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve in the types of drug and biologic therapies it develops and where it delivers these products, we believe it is facing many challenges. There is the rising complexity of supply chains due to the diversity of drug-delivery mechanisms and the industry’s global footprint, an escalating increase in counterfeiting and diversion, and the continuous evolution and reengineering of companies as a result of the many mergers and acquisitions. Also, the new drugs being developed to meet new therapeutic categories often dictate new drug technologies, delivering these medications in different formats depending on the patient. This development sets up a whole new way of looking at drug delivery and its related package. Along with this, comes the challenge of identifying these products throughout the delivery chain and establishing the right IT infrastructure to capture the product data, store it, integrate it, and then share it where appropriate.  

    PMP: How are requests for drug-delivery and packaging evolving, and how can Sharp help?

    Benedict: Sharp has been following closely the different formats of drugs in the industry. We have tremendous capacity in the United States and Europe to handle standard typical oral dose products requiring blisters and bottles, but we can also support, in both our Allentown and Netherlands packaging facilities, the high cost and highly divertible Schedule II drugs, distribution of which is pretty much controlled by the DEA.

    In addition, we have made significant investments to expand our equipment platforms to support the ever-evolving drug-delivery challenges. Drug-delivery systems and packaging evolutions have evolved massively from oral tablets, a syringe, or a transdermal patch, to many different formats of delivery systems from the buccal and the oral thin-film dissolvable applications to single-unit syringes with a safety needle where the patient does the dose in the hospital or at home. As a result, our packaging lines have evolved to handle projects such as microdose powder filling into cartridges and different biologic applications for specific therapeutic categories such as vials and autoinjector pens. For these biologics, we don’t do sterile fill, but we do label, carton, kit, and serialize. For instance, we would take a vial, label it, put it in a kit with multiple syringes and different type of literature that might be patient required, serialize at all levels, carton it, and cold-chain ship.

    Oral thin-film is another evolving drug-delivery mechanism. We currently have two lines in Allentown where we take the finished drug in a reel format and cut it, print on it, and package it. We will also have this capability in the Netherlands in 2016. We made the decision to invest in the specific pieces of equipment that support this drug-delivery mechanism because it represented a growing need in patient care for a quicker disintegration of the drug into the blood stream for those who can’t take oral medication or for conditions that might need a rapid dissolve. In the United States, we have one stability format line where we can do small runs, and then a larger line where we can dose and pouch commercial run batches. In the EU, we will have a full Harro Hoflinger line by late summer 2016 to support multiple customer applications for oral thin-film and dissolvable-type products.

    Likewise, personalized medicine delivery is growing in therapeutic categories like diabetes or CNS conditions or for life-saving-type drugs. To meet these packaging needs, we have invested in secondary equipment with multiple lines in the United States and Europe that can take sterile-filled cartridges and do the assemblies of the injectable pens, label them, and kit them. However, we can take this a step beyond to meet late-phase customization needs cost effectively. For example, we can make a naked or unlabeled pen on a large-scale piece of equipment in the United States and then cold chain ship to our facility in Belgium, where we store the pens until QP release for the European theater, label, package, and finalize them in small lots for distribution. 

    Working with our clinical sister division also keeps us aware of drug-delivery changes, and we are called upon at times to support their customers’ requests for packaging applications that they could not label or pouch fill. We may start with a small Phase II project, establish a comfort level and meet audit requirements, and then assist that customer with full commercialization—truly beginning-to-end support. 

    Along the same lines, we have created an orphan drug cell in the United States as the culmination of a few clients looking for rapid-to-market release of product. Recognizing the importance of this need for the industry, we devised a way to work with these customers to establish a line and get it validated in advance so that order fulfillment can be immediate. Once we have a validated line, we are ready to go at a moment’s notice. So when a patient goes into a clinic and gets a script for one of these orphan drugs, the total turnaround from us to patient is three to five days. We can do this because we have the production and cold-storage capacity that might not be available internally to the pharmaceutical company that has lines devoted to specific products that are costly to switch over. We store the cold-chain vials in our refrigeration units until needed, and once we get the call, we then label and put the kits together and ship. 

    As a contract packager, we can establish these lines or meet other client specific requirements and leverage the costs over multiple projects making the investment far more cost-effective for us than it might be for the pharmaceutical company first venturing into this product. We also can draw upon our experience with our projects to constantly improve upon our operations. This makes us a very attractive partner to many companies as they can draw upon our expertise as well as our packaging operations. For us, the foundation of our business as a contract packager is really trust and relationship. At the end of the day, people make decisions on where they want their high-cost drugs packaged, and Sharp’s view is that it is an honor to be the last set of hands or equipment to touch the product before it goes out into their marketplace. As a result of this, we have been able to work with many companies as a true partner.

    Blister packaging operations. Image courtesy Sharp Packaging Solutions


    PMP: How are Sharp’s serialization capabilities being utilized?

    Benedict: The distribution chain of a pharmaceutical product is a long and complex one. Where the drug API is being manufactured, where the finished compound of the drug is being manufactured, where the finished packaging is being done, where the distribution is being done, and where the patient is buying or being prescribed the drug are all critical information points. Serialization laws are looking to capture the packaging and distribution portion of this chain with laws that are already in effect in some countries, but will be in force in the United States in January 2017 and in Europe shortly thereafter. Sharp is a leader in the field of serialization, having lines in production for over 8 years. In conjunction with serialization comes the management of the data it generates. As a result, we have invested heavily in our IT functionality to stay ahead of the curve on meeting the data capture and sharing requirements that are inherent in today’s marketplace. We have the equipment, line-level architecture in the United States and EU, as well as a cloud network where we can support a data transfer between Sharp sites, our network vendors, and the customer. 

    Sharp has also recognized the need to put the right people in place to manage the complexities data capture brings to the production environment. In years past, it was the packaging engineer and equipment engineers talking to the customer. Now we have instituted an XPReS process in working with customers. We create a team consisting of a business development person, a customer service person, a project manager, and a quality tech transfer representative. We add people for more-complex customer requirements such as a validations engineer, an operations engineer, an electronics engineer, or a package design person. This team interacts well with the client team to support packaging its projects. To meet the growing IT component of our business, our project management has evolved into two groups: the standard group for onboarding, determining what lines are to be used, what materials, and what type of validation requirements; and then the IT development team where we work with the customer’s internal IT team or any of their consultants to support data integrity and transfer. 

    Because we have been at this since 2007, we have been able to standardize an approach to serialization, which is very well received by all customers of all sizes. We have worked with SAP, Oracle, and other customer-specific-requirement systems. We are linked with the key vendors serving this area and accepted by the industry: Systech, Covectra, TraceLink, QAD, and Domino Printing and Vision Systems. This provides an immediate level of comfort. In addition, we have chosen to build all of the internal Sharp serialization equipment in one location and ship to our European site, so that the same technology is being utilized throughout Sharp. This capability to integrate data and equipment, as well as our technical support team between our U.S. and European sites, offers a seamless experience to our customers struggling to meet the demands of a global marketplace. 

    Currently we are supporting U.S., European, and Asian customers with serialization on 18+ active lines running 50+ active projects ranging from large pharma and bio-science companies to virtual companies. We can provide up to five levels of aggregation, from printing on the individual blister cavity through the final shipping pallet. Over the last 8 years we have serialized 2 to 3 billion doses. Sharp has chosen to make the investment in the infrastructure for printers, cameras, and lines to support serialization. We have control over the technology within Sharp, which is a huge benefit for our customers. We can confidently tell our customers that they will not be the first mover or guinea pig. We can go out and say, “Here’s what we are doing.” It’s validated. Our parent company, UDG Healthcare, has also been very positive in supporting our business case of adding multiple serialization lines a quarter. We are looking to have 80 lines fully serialized within the next 24 months.  

    PMP: What are future industry challenges, and how is Sharp poised to help?

    Benedict: The rapid increase in specialty medications and biologics requiring cold-chain distribution has escalated the need for refrigeration within packaging facilities, trucks, and packages. To meet this growing demand, Sharp has invested in another 120,000 square feet of production space for personalized medicines. The facility will open and be validated for 13 rooms and will grow over the next year to 20+, bringing its capability for cold-chain storage to 1000 pallets. All lines in this plant will be serialization ready and focused on specialty pharma and biotech products: vial-labeling lines, pen-assembly lines, oral thin-film packaging, and some customer-specific equipment. In addition, we are transitioning our cold-chain package to the Credo Cube multi-use packaging system. It is smaller and lighter than traditional polystyrene and gel pack systems as well as being 100% recyclable. As such, it cuts down on transport emissions, reduces global warming potential by 75%, and reduces post-consumer waste by 95%. It also reduces product destruction costs for the customer through its ability to maintain the desired temperature.

    Sharp also recognizes the diminishment of pharma’s big count bottles of 500 and 1000 tablets or capsules and anticipates more 30-, 60-, and 90-count bottles coming in the future. As a result, Sharp is investing in count equipment for fillers of scheduled drugs to be ready to convert lines to meet customer requirements.

    Meeting the needs of evolving markets is also on the horizon. Each country comes with its own set of complex regulations and therefore challenges to be met. Already well versed in meeting U.S., European, and Asian requirements, Sharp has begun testing of packaging and IT serialization and distribution support for companies in South America. 

    As an established commercial and clinical contract packager, we believe that Sharp is uniquely positioned to help the industry address these challenges. We offer beginning-to-end packaging solutions through robust commercial packaging capabilities in both the United States and Europe, as well as clinical packaging operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, supporting Phase I through Phase III clinical trials. This validated presence on two continents is a tremendous asset to our global clients in terms of having the authentication and expertise necessary to meet each market’s regulatory requirements. In addition, our experience in serving the needs of a broad range of clientele, from large pharmaceutical and bio-science companies; Tier I, II, and III companies and generic manufacturers to virtual companies, gives us a broad base of knowledge to leverage against each new client requirement. 

    For instance, a company can tap our package design lab to develop packaging for a new medication or biologic, drawing upon our expertise with other medications or delivery mechanisms in the drug’s class. We can also advise a client on packaging material specifications to meet unique drug requirements such as refrigeration or exposure to humidity or light. This capability help’s the clients marketing and brand teams tremendously, because they can confidently outsource these functions, preserving their internal resources for other deliverables, and obtain a package that works for the product and patient while performing effectively in the packaging operation.

    Monday, November 23, 2015
    Bottle counts are changing in today's healthcare market. Image courtesy Sharp Packaging Solutions.
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  5. Klondike Kones redesign reclaims frozen territory

    Redesigned packaging for Unilever’s Klondike Kones ice cream treats breaks through the competition with a sales-gaining look that heightens appetite appeal. Brand owner and designer explain why and how the changes were made to “scream” taste appeal.


    While we all scream for ice cream, the new packaging design for Klondike Kones frozen treats screams “taste appeal” to take back market share lost over the last several years.

    Owned by Unilever and distributed in mass channels throughout Canada, Klondike Kones combine flavorfully decadent ingredients in a convenient wrapped and cartoned cone form.

    The Klondike Canada portfolio has grown over time, from the 1990s to today, with several strong introductions recently including Klondike Kandy Bars and new flavors in the core mix,” says Leslie Miller, senior brand manager, Unilever. “With a range of bars, Kones, Kandy bars and sandwiches, Klondike is one of Canada’s favorite frozen treats.”

    Canada Klondike’s business was redesigned in 2009 with an easily recognizable brand block and construct, according to Miller. Yet soon sales cooled amidst fresh competition.

    “Unfortunately, in 2014, one of our biggest segments–Klondike Kones–was facing steep competition, declining sales and underwhelming pack graphics in a world where appetite appeal had become king,” she says. “With minimal support and time, packaging was a key source for marketing to turn this range around.”

    The brand turned to Little Big Brands to handle the project to revive the languishing brand with refreshed packaging design.

    “Looking to use packaging as a source of turnaround we needed an agency that was proven to use pack creative as a catalyst for success – LBB,” says Miller.  “We did a deep dive around how to keep the cones consistent with the rest of the range, yet dial up the product appeal and proposition—with no time for product development.  We chose LBB because we needed an agency that could keep mind of the rest of the range and make significant improvements to drive the business. Its focus and skill was great on helping us understand what elements we could push to really enhance the design and create a new look and feel.”

    The redesign was all about ramping up the flavor cues and giving the brand an on-shelf package that would beg consumers to pick it up, according to Pamela Long, LBB partner.

    “Cones are meant to be about flavor, fun and indulgence, the packaging needed to live up to that,” she says. “We achieved that by focusing on the product itself and in particular moving the brand to custom photography - the only way to create the needed taste appeal. That was paired with an updated take on the arctic billboard for which the brand is famous.

    With the new look, you know exactly what you are getting in the box and can feel great that it's going to be delicious and satisfying!”

    Kones are sold in cartons included two current SKUs, vanilla & chocolate and vanilla & caramel, and the launch of Chocolate & Caramel. Individually wrapped Kones include 3 SKUs—Vanilla & Chocolate, Chocolate & Caramel and Strawberry.

    Redesign of three-product line  sold in Canada coincides with a new flavor, Chocolate & Caramel.


    Screaming taste appeal

    One of Unilever’s challenges was budget related. “The toughest challenge was that we didn’t have the budget to redo the whole range, so we had to be mindful of the current brand pack construct while truly moving the needle on the Kones,” says Miller. “LBB did a great job on keeping the architecture similar, but working with color and texture to pop the Kones. 

    “At LBB’s suggestion, we also reshot the products, to improve appetite appeal and round out the new look and feel.  We were also challenged, in the same realm, because we saw some incredible designs that could push the needle, but were too far from current and possibly too far for the brand to go, especially without ancillary communications.”

    According to LBB’s Long, the competition provided the biggest cue for the redesign.

    “That was the need to really ‘scream’ taste appeal – which is achieved through real-life imagery and photography for many competitive brands,” she says. “People are shopping the aisle looking for something that looks delicious and indulgent, and the competition was doing that better. We needed to not just be comparable; we needed to stand out as a superior taste experience.”


    Next: The scoop on design changes, details and results


    Side-by-side comparisons of the new (abobe left) and previous design show the major changes that included rebranding and reorientation of the cone to show more of the toppings.

    A major unifying element for the entire Klondike brand is an arctic landscape is typically incorporated in some manner. That was one of the existing brand elements that LBB “amped” up with Kones.

    We added cyan to the packs to highlight the ‘Kones’ name and incorporated that cyan on the top portion of the pack to play off the arctic sky and add a cool frostiness to the pack,” Long explains. “Color coding by SKU was generally consistent with the previous design, though we added a new SKU, Chocolate & Caramel, and gave it a rich magenta that fit nicely within in the current lineup while differentiating the new flavor.”

    She outlines the main design changes in this “before and after” of highlights:

    The name was changed from Klondike to Klondike Kones: The naming convention as a brand is to include a sub-brand. That was part of the problem with the previous offering. With a less-than- realistic product image and no sub-brand, it was making it more difficult than need be for people to shop the brand.

    The Klondike name was moved to the top of the carton to “amp up taste appeal,” says Long. “We really wanted to make the Kones the main focal point of the pack. And as the Klondike name and brand are very strong and recognizable, we knew they could sit proudly top of pack and still carry the same punch.”

    There’s more of a focus on the top of the cones.

    “This speaks to doing a better job of communicating to people what the product is and giving them a better sense of the many layers of ingredients that make up Klondike Kones,” Long explains. “ The nooks and crannies of the top of the Kone hold rivers of chocolate and caramel, nuts and chocolate and caramel pieces – only by showing the top do you understand the layers of flavor and deliciousness that you get with a Kone.”

    The arctic landscape also received a makeover: “Just like the Kones themselves, the arctic landscape became more true to life and dimensional. We added the cyan blue sky to really play off the cold, icy landscape and bring a cool freshness to the pack. The traditional snowy mountains were also enhanced by adding a frozen icescape to the bottom of pack with the Klondike bear etched into the ice for a little added playfulness.”

    The cartons feature two primary display panels, one in English and one in French.

    “We changed the side panels,” says Long. “Before, each side held a nutritional panel with ingredients, with the redesign we used one of the side panels to highlight the delicious ingredients that go into making Klondike Kones such a scrumptious treat!”

    The results literally speak volumes about the success of the redesign. “So far, Kones are up more than +10% in 2015, driven greatly by the new design,” says Miller. “When you walk a Canadian shelf, the products stand out, showcasing great products that haven’t strayed from the Canada look and feel.”

    Monday, November 23, 2015
    Redesign centered on the product’s move to custom beauty photography paired with an updated take on the arctic billboard.
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  6. Bioplastics market growing at 14.8% CAGR

    The global market for bioplastics will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.8% to become a $30.8 billion market by 2020, according to a new report, "World Bioplastics Market Opportunities and Forecast, 2014-2020," from market intelligence company Allied Market Research.


    Karen Laird, PlasticsToday


    According to the report, among the key factors propelling this growth are the rising environmental awareness among consumers and what it describes as the “substantial curiosity of packaging industries towards biodegradability,” which is responsible for the increasing adoption of bioplastics in rigid packaging applications. In fact, rigid plastic packaging applications are forecast to account for more than 40% of the market revenue by 2020.

    Bioplastics are plastics derived from biomass: renewable feedstocks, such as corn, sugarcane and cellulose to name but a few. Not only is there a wide availability of renewable feedstocks, part of what is boosting the market across the globe is the fact that biobased plastics feature a smaller carbon footprint compared to fossil-based materials, allowing users to meet their sustainability goals more easily. On the negative side are the high production costs of bioplastics, which make them more costly to use. This so-called ‘green premium’ may well dampen market growth during the forecast period.

    The consumption of “drop-in” bioplastics (Bio-PE, Bio-PET 30, Bio-PA) and others, says the report, will continue to dominate the overall bioplastics market through 2020. Drop-in bioplastics are non-biodegradable materials, derived from renewable raw materials offering identical technical properties to their fossil counterparts (PE, PET and PA, among others).

    According to this study, Bio-PET 30 will be the fastest growing segment in the non-biodegradable drop-in market, as it delivers same performance as conventional PET with regard to re-sealability, versatility, durability, appearance, weight and recyclability.

    Asia Pacific is predicted to become the fastest growing consumer during the forecast period. In terms of revenue and volume, polylactic acid (PLA) is projected to be the fastest growing segment in the overall biodegradable plastics market.


    Read the full story at PlasticsToday.


    Is your company taking advantage of the circular economy approach to sustainability? Have on-pack environmental marketing claims become more important to consumers or to your company? Are you correctly measuring sustainable packaging success? We invite you to share your thoughts on these critical issues in our short survey.


    Monday, November 23, 2015
    Led by polylactic acid, bioplastics are a $30.8 billion market globally.
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  7. 4 packaging designs that create high expectations for cannabis products

    Branding and safety are now coming to the forefront for packaging of cannabis products, as the market for medicinal and recreational marijuana intensifies.


    With Americans voting to legalize marijuana in a growing number of states, for recreational as well as medical use, demand for cannabis packaging design expertise is booming.

    Dispensaries and brand owners with products ranging from marijuana flowers (buds) to THC-infused edibles and beverages—and the packaging designers and suppliers who serve them—are developing packages in a variety of formats.

    Structural design musts include adherence to state regulations for marijuana packaging, particularly child-resistance, reclosability and ease of opening. Graphic design that creates a brand identity is also a focus for many in the nascent market. (Packaging for Auntie Dolores gourmet marijuana-infused edibles, for example, is both child-resistant and graphically sophisticated.)

    Here are four examples of standout packages that help build brand affinity by emphasizing product quality and safety.


    Putting a new spin on ‘brand elevation’

    In the graphics for its IVXX cannabis products, brand owner Terra Tech Corp. uses lush color and copious amounts of black to create a luxurious look and feel. The IVXX Sampler Box (photo above) showcases three types of cannabis flower, each packaged in a one-gram bag. The boxed set also includes branded rolling papers and a lighter. Each packaging component is printed with the brand’s name and its tagline, “Elevate.” Anthem Worldwide designed the IVXX packaging.


    Next: Nature imagery conveys product properties

    Nature imagery conveys product properties

    Canadian medical-cannabis producer Tilray uses bags with a child-resistant zipper to package the 50-plus strains of cannabis that the company cultivates. Each reclosable bag holds up to 15 grams of trimmed, dried cannabis flower. The front label on the bag is specific to each strain, featuring an image of a natural landscape that evokes the strain’s physiological effects, genetic origin and name.

    “For example, Master Kush—which derives its name from the Hindu Kush mountains in Central Asia and delivers an elevated effect to patients—features an image of the pinnacle of the Hindu Kush mountains,” explains Tilray spokesperson Zack Hutson. “OG Shark—which derives its name from the Great White Shark strain and creates a relaxing and euphoric effect—shows a tropical island beach.”

    To see the artwork for all Tilray flower products, click here.


    Next: Infused pancake batter in a can

    Infused pancake batter in a can

    1PM Industries Inc. recently launched Von Baron Farms Artisan Edibles Pancake and Waffle Batter in California. The package is a pressurized steel can with a point-and-spray nozzle. The propellant is CFC-free, and the can is recyclable. Each can holds 8 ounces of ready-to-cook, THC-infused batter; flavors include Banana Bread, Blueberry Lemon and Strawberry Shortcake. The product won the Connoisseur’s Choice award and a Best Edible award at Hempcon San Jose 2015, a cannabis-industry trade show.


    Next: Sustainable, compliant exit bags

    Sustainable, compliant exit bags

    In addition to compliant primary packaging, dispensaries need secondary packaging that fulfills state requirements for child-resistant, reclosable, easy-opening (CRREO) closures. To fill this need, Intellipak USA has developed the HISIERRA exit bag, which incorporates a proprietary CRREO closure featuring a locking slider zipper. The high-barrier, food-grade bag is also eco-friendly. It is made from a bio-based, renewable raw material—sugarcane. And the bags are manufactured in a LEED-certified Silver facility using 100% wind energy.



    Learn about the latest developments in packaging design and innovation at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Thursday, November 19, 2015
    Elegant packaging design for the IVXX Sampler Box elevates the brand experience.
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  8. Help us report on sustainable packaging trends

    Is your company taking advantage of the circular economy approach to sustainability? Have on-pack environmental marketing claims become more important to consumers or to your company? Are you correctly measuring sustainable packaging success?

    Answers to these questions and others help paint a portrait of best practices in sustainability and packaging, which you can use to benchmark where you are with your goals.

    We now invite you to share your thoughts on these critical issues in our short survey. To begin the confidential survey, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, visit

    This is the ninth year Packaging Digest and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition have conducted this highly regarded survey of packaging and sustainability. Last year, for example, the survey revealed some surprises in bio-based materials, as well as with packaging expectations for ecommerce.

    This year, we’ve decided to examine the circular economy and environmental marketing claims, along with general trends in packaging and sustainability.

    We’ll even reward you for taking the survey. Everyone who completes the survey and gives us an email address will get the full, detailed results of the study.

    Additionally, we will conduct a random drawing for one of three prizes, each prize consisting of a $100 gift check. You will need to provide your name and email address and only qualified, completed surveys will be accepted for the drawing.

    Thanks in advance for your participation!



    Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Friday, November 20, 2015
    Are environmental marketing claims on the rise?
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  9. Is it time to advocate for a global serialization standard for pharmaceuticals?

    Healthcare expert Ian Lemon makes a case for how harmonized regulations and strong leadership can help combat counterfeiting and improve patient safety.


    Up to 10% of all pharmaceuticals sold globally are counterfeit, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Serialization—adding a unique identification number to each package—can help track a product throughout the supply chain, making it harder to divert or counterfeit. But complex challenges still exist.

    In a recent article “Tackling Counterfeiting through Serialization,” author Ian Lemon talks about the benefits of serialization, such as protecting consumers against subpar counterfeit products by tracking packages, as well as the challenges, including the costs of implementing solutions to comply with different regulations around the world.

    As Essentra’s global product director, Health and Personal Care, Lemon is responsible for new product development to satisfy customer and category needs and demands. With more than 15 years of experience, he has worked with several leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) businesses.

    Packaging Digest asked Lemon about his ideas on how to simplify this complex issue.


    You recommend adoption of common legislation globally for pharmaceutical serialization. Why?

    Lemon: Counterfeiting is a global phenomenon and the criminals that place brands and lives at risk every day can be large, organized and increasingly sophisticated. These global risks require a unified and global response if we’re to make material and sustainable progress to counter their impact.

    As serialization programs roll out across the globe, the volume of different coding and reporting requirements increases. Coding is being introduced on different levels of packaging with some countries adopting unit-level protection and others assuming codes on tertiary-level packaging.

    The issuance of serialized numbers in some territories is centrally controlled while others delegate the generation of unique codes to the manufacturer. Some regulations require communication between stakeholders in the supply chain while others focus only on the point of prescription to the patient. Serialization, in some territories, requires dispensing records to be placed on central digital databases while others, at least for now, require paper records only.

    This growing level of complexity and variation will inevitably result in regulatory or executional flaws which will present opportunities for counterfeiters to exploit. Equally, the cost and complexity of deploying discrete national regulatory arrangements with supporting reporting infrastructure may be too costly for some governments in parts of the world where the instance of counterfeiting is most prolific.

    A global, standardized system would facilitate a coordinated and consistent attack on this damaging crime and would facilitate the maximum adoption of the practice around the world.


    What is the likelihood this will happen, and why or why not?

    Lemon: The likelihood is low.

    A global anti-counterfeit initiative will only be possible when national governments are prepared to harmonize their legislation with regard to pharmaceutical manufacture and distribution and also their legal posture with regard to protection of intellectual property. In a period of time when national governments do not have standard definitions of what a counterfeit product is, then the likelihood of deploying global systems to address it are minimal.


    What would be the benefits of a global standard for pharmaceutical serialization for all involved parties?

    Lemon: Consistency creates an environment where cost and process efficiency can be realized to maximize the impact of serialization in undermining the counterfeit threat. The deployment of a single, global execution for pack-level serialization would require a system to be developed that can be universally adopted and executed in all countries and regions. It would allow development of standard enabling systems and information technology (IT) infrastructure, which would reduce the cost and complexity of deployment for both national/regional institutions and for the healthcare industry.

    While the adoption of serialization for the protection of healthcare products is generally supported by pharmaceutical manufacturers and their upstream packaging partners, there is also a concern about the investment and variable cost impact of its deployment. The already significant challenges posed for system development and integration have been compounded by the different, and often dynamic, requirements of individual regulators. Companies are being required by the pressures of different deployment timetables around the world to invest significant development costs in an unclear and unstable environment.

    Will the systems and data integration systems deployed today fully satisfy the requirements of the next nation state’s hybrid interpretation of what has been defined to date?   


    What are the challenges of implementing uniform laws, and how should they be overcome?

    Lemon: The key challenge is leadership. Harmonizing regulation is profoundly complex and difficult and can only be achieved if a strong, global, non-governmental body can establish sufficient authority and multinational support to drive progress.


    You also advise establishing long-term relationships with strong partners that are able to help manage costs and minimize risks, in the light of regulatory uncertainty. Why is this so important?

    Lemon: Pharmaceutical companies are experts in the research, development and deployment of health-enhancing products. Their core competency is not in data management, system integration or variable data printing.

    Global companies with these latter core competencies exist that enjoy a well-developed and macro view of the emerging requirements across the globe. They are best placed to support the effective deployment of means by which the challenge of serialization can be effectively addressed.



    See anti-counterfeiting and track-and-trace packaging solutions at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Friday, November 20, 2015
    Counterfeit drugs endanger people around the world. How can packaging help solve this complex problem?
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  10. Waste, repackaged

    Three resourceful companies are changing the rhetoric on waste by reimagining it as feedstock for innovative bio-based packaging materials.


    Free trade coffee, biofuels, recycled plastics, non-GMO apples, conflict-free minerals, organic kale: What do all of these concepts have in common? They demonstrate the power of material feedstock in the market; that is, the idea that where something comes from impacts the sustainability of the product.

    Why make plastics out of non-renewable fossil fuel when you can recycle? Why rely only on fossil fuel when you can synthesize biofuels from corn? Why buy coffee or diamonds from war-torn regions where political agendas are fueled by such commerce when you can sleep easy at night, knowing that tomorrow morning’s half-sweet non-fat caramel Macciato is coming from the most ethical of bean growers?!

    I was at a sustainable packaging conference a couple years ago where I watched a presentation from the World Wildlife Fund. This was when I was first introduced to the ethical implications of making products like plastic and fuel out of food; how can you justify producing resource-intensive crops like corn or potatoes for anything but human consumption when so much of the worlds’ communities are starving, the WWF inquired? This isn’t a new argument but it is powerful; and, perhaps, helped lay the foundation for the new wave of biomaterials being constructed by several innovating companies.

    What began as an investigation into “the future of sustainable materials” following the publication of “Yesterday’s ‘promising’ green materials: Where are they now?” has evolved into a discussion of how waste is being repackaged, literally. I am reminded now of Braungart’s and McDonough’s analogy of the cherry tree in “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”:

    “Consider the cherry tree: thousands of blossoms create fruit for birds, humans, and other animals, in order that one pit might eventually fall onto the ground, take root, and grow. Who would look at the ground littered with cherry blossoms and complain, "How inefficient and wasteful!" The tree makes copious blossoms and fruit without depleting its environment. Once they fall on the ground, their materials decompose and break down into nutrients that nourish microorganisms, insects, plants, animals, and soil. Although the tree actually makes more of its "product" than it needs for its own success in an ecosystem, this abundance has evolved (through millions of years of success and failure or, in business terms, R&D), to serve rich and varied purposes. In fact, the tree's fecundity nourishes just about everything around it.

    “What might the human-built world look like if a cherry tree had produced it?”

    Perhaps it might look like a world where methane gas is collected from water treatment facilities and made into bioplastics?

    Maybe it looks like a world where waste protein from cheese production is the feedstock for packaging laminates?

    How about a world where local waste is used as the feedstock for local packaging solutions?

    What follows is a discussion of how three innovating companies are changing the rhetoric on waste, repackaged.


    Packaging innovation: Re-engineer local waste cellulous fibers for local food packaging (see photo above)

    Trial: Wheat-straw-based packaging

    Company: Zelfo Technology / Bio-Lutions GmbH

    Zelfo Technology is focused on re-engineering natural cellulous fibers to enhance performance properties, like material strength. By opening and engineering the fibers using patented techniques, the surface area is increased, which facilitates hydrogen bonding and mechanical locking of the fibrous network. Instead of using chemical binders to create a package that uses low-grade waste, Zelfo Technology re-engineers what little cellulous there is so that the material binds together without the need for additional processing. Zelfo can use any source of natural fibers, including agricultural, industrial and post-consumer waste.

    In 2014, Zelfo was approached by Hamburg-based company Bio-Lutions GmbH (formerly Upgrading GmbH). CEO Eduardo Gordillo challenged the company to produce a fully waste-based pulp formed package. The two companies entered into a development partnership and ran a number of trials with bagasse and wheat straw to assess the processing parameters. These proved successful and subsequent trials were run in China specially using modified pulp forming processing technology.

    In the summer of 2015, similar packages were produced from tomato stems and hemp shiv. The hemp came from South Africa where the intention was to supply the grape-growing industry with hemp shiv packaging. The concept became “using local waste for local packaging requirements:” bagasse-based packaging for fruit growers in Brazil and tomato stalk-based packaging for tomato growers.

    Managing director, Richard Hurding, explains, “The packaging market for growers of fruit and vegetables is based on remote suppliers dictating prices and supply. With our solution, an arrangement is established between BioLutions and the food growers who need or can supply other local users with packaging made from their residual material. The BioLutions plant converts the materials and delivers an economic and sustainable product to the on-site or local user.”

    For Hurding, wherever there is a combination of agro industries that have waste and need packaging, the Zelfo Technology fiber based system that BioLutions offers can be implemented: “In the developed world, there is no such thing as ‘waste’ agricultural materials as they all have a market value, whether it be for animal feed, bedding or bio-fuels,” Hurding says. “The main thing is to upcycle the material with a higher value than the current end uses offer. This means looking at products that upgrade residuals; not just taking them as they are.”


    Next: Extract protein from agro-food waste for bioplastic production


    Packaging innovation: Extract protein from agro-food waste for bioplastic production

    Trials: BioBoard, WheyLayer, Leguval, ThermoWhey, OliPHA

    Company: IRIS

    IRIS is an applied research firm specializing in advanced engineering and process optimization. Elodie Bugnicourt, Ph.D., is the group lead of the Ecomaterials department, which works to develop solutions to client problems with some kind of sustainable approach, be it by improving the process, using renewable resources or reducing waste.

    While bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA) demonstrate advancement in polymer science, they also expose the ethical implications of using food like corn as feedstock for bioplastic production. Consequently, progress in this space is taking the form of extracting protein from agro-food waste for bioplastic production.

    Bugnicourt, also BioBoard project coordinator, explains, “Protein is a biopolymer, it doesn't need further polymerization. First it needs to be separated from the other compounds in the waste. Most of the time, the first challenge is having the right purity of materials for the target application. Then you have to compound the protein with other plasticizers; this is to tailor the processability and mechanical properties. Once we get the right formulation, we validate the new material, and look for real world application.”

    BioBoard is one of the several projects IRIS is working on to implement and scale up this approach to bioplastic production. Here by-product from cheese making is processed as pure whey protein isolates and potato pulp from starch production is dried and grinded. Then, proteins are modified to obtain thermoplastic pellets, which are extruded as a standalone film. The film is laminated onto board or other substrates using adhesives. At end of life, BioBoard can be organically recycled (composted) and the proteins promote composting.

    The concept for the BioBoard came from a previous project that proved to be successful; here the protein-based bioplastic laminate was applied to plastic film to enhance its barrier properties. Unfortunately, the application of bioplastic coating to plastic film is easier than extruding the polymer to be laminated with paperboard. This processing difference between extrusion and lacquering continues to be one of the technical hurdles facing the large-scale commercialization of BioBoard.

    In summary, Bugnicourt encourages us to create value from waste; she envisions a “cascading extraction of valuable waste to create new bioplastics and new applications in the future.”


    Next: Methane-based bioplastic PHA (polyhydroxy alkanoate)

    Packaging innovation: Methane-based bioplastic PHA (polyhydroxy alkanoate)

    Trial: Micro beads

    Company: Mango Materials

    Mango Materials CEO Molly Morse, Ph.D., became interested in the naturally occurring biopolymer polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) about 10 years ago, when she was a graduate student at Stanford University. PHA is unique in that it has superior temperature and moisture resistance while also being able to biodegrade in any end-of-life disposal environment, be it waterways or home compost piles. Bioplastic PLA on the other hand has low heat deflection (without the addition of modifiers) and can only biodegrade in industrial composting facilities.

    Traditionally PHA has been expensive and hard to find, made by feeding sugar to Ecoli bacteria. By feeding the bacteria methane gas instead of sugar, Morse and her team discovered that the cost of PHA could be significantly reduced. This is not only because methane can be a waste product, and therefore cheaper than sugar, but also that the process of converting methane to PHA is thermodynamically favorable compared to converting sugar to PHA. Morse explains, “It’s what the bacteria want to do. With sugar you have to break down the chain and rebuild using energy; in our process we just build, which is energy favorable.”

    This all results in the production of PHA at a cost that is competitive with traditional plastics.

    Methane gas for bioplastic production can be collected from a variety of industrial processes, like landfills, agricultural facilities, extinct coalmines and more. Currently the company is focused on the methane from water treatment, where the methane, in the form of biogas, is piped directly into their fermentation system where there are bacteria that have been naturally selected specifically because they eat methane to survive. Like how humans eat food and store the energy as fat, these bacteria eat methane and store PHA biopolymer inside their cell walls. Once extracted, the result is essentially a white powder that the company extrudes and pelletizes. It behaves similarly to polypropylene and can be molded into fibers, films, coatings and many other useful products.

    The company’s first commercial application of its methane-based bioplastic is in micro beads that are found in face washes and other personal care products and historically made from persistent plastic. Ending up in our waterways, these micro beads have become the recent frustration of environmentalists and consumers alike for their environmental persistence.

    In the context of packaging, Mango Materials intends to work with extruders to produce PHA films for a variety of uses, including thermoforming. The target market here would be food packaging, which, when contaminated by food waste at the end of its life, is not recyclable but is compostable. 

    Close to commercialization, this project demonstrates Morse’s interest in developing PHA based solutions for products that have a poor recycling option available, like agricultural sheets, fishing nets and food-contaminated packaging. “We are so incredibly excited about the current state of our technology,” says Morse. “We have a unique vision for a closed-loop bio-economy and are thrilled to make this a reality.”


    Chandler Slavin is the sustainability coordinator and marketing manager at custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing. Privately held and family owned and operated since 1962, Dordan is an engineering-based designer and manufacturer of plastic clamshells, blisters, trays and thermoformed components. Follow Slavin on Twitter @DordanMfg.


    Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging materials and more at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


    Wednesday, November 18, 2015
    Trays are formed using repurposed natural fibers from agricultural, industrial or post-consumer waste.
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