With all the talk of consumers eating at restaurants more and more, and all the focus on lunchtime food offerings (both at retail and foodservice), a concept like this one from Medport, LLC may seem to be a bit counterintuitive.
However, just take a look around the office that you may work in. Is your lunchroom refrigerator like ours—overburdened with brown bags, plastic bags, and random bits and pieces of people's lunches? In fact, we've been told lately to bring in only a single day's lunch because there just isn't room in the fridge.
Yes, that's the environment I work in. But as I travel to and from the office, I see dozens of people carrying their insulated lunch bags or plastic shopping bags with their meals. That tells me that the brown-bagging culture is alive and well, and there's a company that is working hard to answer the need of those consumers.
Functional and reusable
Medport makes a line of reusable plastic containers in the U.S. designed for easily taking your lunch with you every day. These are more than just the usual plastic bowls or tubs, but rather are made with specific functional benefits to enhance the "dining" experience.
Medport offers a number of handy Fit & Fresh products like the one shown here, but the Salad Shaker is by far the most complex and most interesting. For starters, inside the lid of this reclosable plastic tub is a freezer ice pack. The gel pack goes into the freezer the night before, and the user just snaps it into place before leaving in the morning.
The main tub holds four cups worth of salad ingredients. The lid also has an integrated dressing dispenser (that's the yellow twist cap). The reservoir for the salad dressing holds three tablespoons. Once filled, it stays separated from the salad until you twist the knob on the top of the lid, which releases the bottom of the reservoir, and the dressing dispenses into the tub with the greens. Then, just shake it up and eat!
Oh, yes, about the eating. Fitted into the top of the lid are a knife and fork in a separate compartment that could also be used to store an energy bar.
The retail packaging consists of a wrap-around label that is glued to all four sides, and the label illustrates clearly all the features of the package. A corrugated cardboard folded into a triangle shape in the main tub reinforces the Fit & Fresh brand through the clear panels, and a brochure and detailed instructions are also included. To top it off, a thin, molded plastic cover protects the lid from dust and dirt in the retail supply chain.
Mixing trends together
The Salad Shaker is one of a growing number of products we see on the market that combines two essential trends in the market—marrying convenience and wellness. All the products in the Fit & Fresh line talk specifically about how the packages can help consumers control their fat and calorie intake, and a tagline says "Fresh ideas for staying fit."
This package gets me thinking about how food companies can incorporate ideas from this product into their own offerings, thus enhancing their lunchtime offerings. The first idea that seems to be a no-brainer but is one that we just do not see in the U.S.—utensils! Napkins can be a nice feature, too, especially for single-serve meals or side dishes.
There also may be opportunity in incorporating package features that may help insulate a product so that consumers have confidence in getting a frozen or chilled meal to their workplace. The numerous package design ideas that this single product might inspire gives me pause to ponder and think: Wow! What a package!
Lynn Dornblaser is the director of the Custom Solutions Group at Mintel International. She can be reached at 312-932-0400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.