Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How To Package A Lobster

I'll have to admit that I thought long and hard about using this particular title. I don't want to offend PETA and have them on my case about the mistreatment of crustaceans. However, after reading about the "lobster incident" this week, it seemed to me that there definitely IS a misunderstanding about the handling of lobster. Has anyone ever watched the History Channel’s The Most Deadly Catch? Talk about some powerful and scary visuals on harvesting snow crab. After watching it, I have to ask......snow crab anyone?

I know people never consider how IT gets there. How do the lobsters get to the tank in the first place? They have to be transported by some type of packaging. It’s easy to research "lobster packaging" and from what I read it seems pretty humane. Although for now lobsters are in the news and its all about how they are being mishandled and packaged.

There are a lot of "hidden" things packaged (the transporting of blood for example) that the average consumer knows nothing about. Yes, blood ships in trucks just like any other packaged product. That particular package has evolved of the years, but it is still a package filled with blood.

Back in my sales days I worked on the packaging of cow salt licks. Seriously, it was big business. It seems that cows lose weight when they are moved. If they ingest all their medicines in the field in a salt lick, it keeps them healthy. And a healthy cow is worth a lot of money. The secret is in the way the salt lick is packaged. I'm talking industrial espionage stuff here. This actually occurred with one of my clients.

The point of all this is that you never know what can get the media into a frenzy about your product or your packaging. All of the sudden packaging can become a really big issue. Take the fast food restaurants as an example and how they have had to clarify what their ingredients are on the packaging. Just this week Starbucks has been added to the "hit" list.

Whether it is how much fat is in your packaging or that you just aren't telling people what they think is the "real story", expect to be scrutinized. Even organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) are getting in to the picture. The AMA is pushing to get warning labels on high-salt foods and, over the next 10 years, to have those salt levels reduced by 50%.

Other recent examples of packaging "hot" buttons that the media loves include:
• "Consumer Reports" Oyster Awards the most difficult packages to open
• Wolfgang Puck exploding self heating latte cans
• Wal-Mart and their "green" packaging efforts
• 100 calories snacks, or so they claim

So, no matter how you package your lobster, it’s important to understand the potential ramifications of your product packaging. Don't just put your "lobster" in the box and expect it not to come under fire by consumers and other interested parties. Remember it’s not just a package anymore.

Please feel free to use me as a resource when it comes to understanding what packaging markets are hot and what are not. Or what companies are developing the latest in innovative packaging technology.


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