Sam was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak about his recent experiences with packaging innovation at The Global Midwest Alliance on May 29, 2019. The topic was "Fresher, Faster, Tastier: How Packaging Innovations are Changing the Food Industry". He spoke about trends he's seeing in the market and recent innovative packaging projects CIULLA has worked on. After his talk, he spoke with Donna Berry of Food Business News:

So how do companies innovate with products and packaging? Sam J. Ciulla, CEO and Executive Creative Director, CIULLA ASSOC, Chicago, said there’s “soft innovation”, which comes in the form of new flavors, sizes and seasonal offerings. “Way too many companies do this, with questionable success,” he said. There needs to be more “hard innovation”, Mr. Ciulla said. This comes in the form of proprietary structural changes to a typical package or the delivery system. It’s when both graphic and structural design are part of the new product development. At the end of the development process, there should be no answer to “What came first: the product or the package.” The two should be developed simultaneously and provide a solution to a need. Mr. Ciulla cited the example of Pillsbury’s frostings in filled pastry bags. “Through research we learned that consumers like cakes and cupcakes, and they like decorating them at home,” he said. “But they do not want to buy and fill pastry bags. We helped develop a filled pastry bag that allows anyone to pipe frosting like a professional.” The built-in star tip enables four distinct designs: stars, rosettes, swirls and waves. It’s a product in a package that solves a consumer need.



Another example is Backyard Farms LLC, Madison, ME. The company markets tomatoes that are picked ripe and delivered to grocers within one day. With the tagline of “not grown too far from here,” this was a structural branding project that had to support Backyard Farms’ brand attributes, including fresh, friendly, local, sustainable, ripe and delicious.

“Our challenge was to develop a package structure that not only helped ship and display the tomatoes, but kept them bundled in their unique set of eight tomatoes on a vine,” Mr. Ciulla said. “A craft paper box with a picket fence and open window does just that.”

The final package design addresses form and function, as well as considers the environment. The boxes are made from 100% recycled paperboard with a minimum of 35% post-consumer content. They are manufactured using 100% wind power and printed using soy inks in nearby Augusta, ME. In addition, all of the company’s master cases are completely recyclable, and they are sourced close by in Auburn, ME, to minimize delivery miles. This gets communicated to the consumer visually and with the story on back of pack and web site.



Nonni’s Foods, Tulsa, OK, was looking to expand into the specialty natural foods channel. In order to differentiate from the company’s core club store offerings sold under the La Dolce Vita brand, Nonni’s chose to share the brand’s story and its use of whole food ingredients on the package. “La Dolce Vita was inspired by the founder’s Italian heritage, and the biscotti are made with non-G.M.O. ingredients and nothing artificial,” Mr. Ciulla said. “These are product qualities that today’s N.O.S.H. (natural, organic, sustainable, healthy) consumers are actively looking for. The original club version of La Dolce Vita looked dated and overly ornate for the N.O.S.H. consumer. Nonni’s wanted to communicate a more contemporary classic product, made using an authentic recipe with only high-quality, clean label ingredients.”

The newly designed brand identity and packaging for La Dolce Vita takes on a sophisticated approach. Branding and flavor communication appear in prominent locations creating a centered composition that allows the biscotti and real, authentic ingredients to shine. “The simple iconic doily serves multiple functions,” he said. “It holds the flavor communication, it features the product, and it helps create strong brand blocking at shelf. The pinstripe backdrop communicates traditional baking, as well as a modern, bright brand expression that feels authentically premium.”

Read the full article at: Food Business News