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'Next generation' cheese packaging

02 June 2010

Milk Link has launched Grip Strip, which it says is 'the most intuitive food packaging open and closure system available on the market today'

Exclusive to Milk Link for use in the dairy sector, the new packaging format will be available in stores nationwide and used on the majority of Sainsbury’s Named Creamery pre-packed cheese and Milk Link’s Cadog and Lockerbie regional cheese brands. It sets a new ‘gold standard’ in cheese packaging by delivering both freshness and ease of use for the consumer.

Grip Strip is a unique format which represents a major step forward in comparison to the traditional zip lock and resealable packs currently available. It has hook and loop self gripping fasteners which firmly seal the pack and maintain product freshness and is designed for everyday, long-term and repeat use.

The material is a food-grade heat-sealable polyethylene. Milk Link’s Innovation Centre worked in partnership with APLIX, a specialist technology company, to apply the hook and loop technology to food packaging.

Hamish Renton, Milk Link’s Marketing Director commented: “We constantly talk to consumers and know that they have been unhappy with current packaging solutions for some time as the zip format doesn’t truly deliver for them.
The launch of Grip Strip across the UK offers consumers a new global dairy first, a ‘gold standard’ in cheese packaging, which will revolutionise the experience for consumers. Earlier this year, Leatherhead Food Research independently verified Grip Strip was the easiest cheese packaging format to open, reseal and re-open.

“Having sole dairy exclusivity on this packaging format is a huge advantage for Milk Link and our retail partners. It’s all part of the service we offer. I’m delighted with the way that our Innovation Centre has blazed a trail in cheese packaging, despite only launching last September. Watch this space going forward– it’s going to be a very busy time for us as we continue to roll out exciting new consumer propositions.”

Matt Richards, Milk Link’s Head of Innovation commented: “Grip Strip demonstrates the pivotal role the Milk Link Innovation Centre has played in identifying and meeting consumers’ needs, and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with customers like Sainsbury’s to roll this technology out across the country. Since launching last September we have prioritised the delivery of this packaging system which has been a key project for us.”

Caine Folkes-Miller, the MD from APLIX added: “Milk Link is known in the industry to take the lead when it comes to packaging innovations so we are genuinely excited to be working with them on Grip Strip. This is a world-first for the use of this technology in food packaging, demonstrating exciting innovation in the dairy category and the versatility of the product.”

Research: Packaging innovation with genuine consumer benefit can deliver significant sales growth to the category; UK penetration of cheese brands with resealable packaging has grown by +5.5% over the last year compared to a drop of -0.4% for retailer standard wrapped cheese (Kantar/Milk Link, July 2009). Consumer insights further demonstrate the market opportunity for a new packaging solution – with consumers reporting that cheese packaging is a major irritant and for those with busy lives, a credible seal and reseal solution is high on their list of priorities (The Cog, August 2008).

In research, the consumer response to Grip Strip has been overwhelmingly positive. When compared to other packaging formats such as zip-lock or standard wrap, consumers showed a clear preference for Grip Strip (Leatherhead Food Research, 2010). 70% of those questioned found Grip Strip the easiest packaging to reseal; 63% found it easier to re-open once it had been resealed; and 80% felt that Grip Strip is the easiest type of packaging for the entire family to use, including children and older people who may have dexterity problems. Consumers said that Grip Strip is “wider so less fiddly” and “easy to align”.

The packaging operation will be run from Milk Link’s cheese processing and packaging business in Oswestry, Shropshire. Grip Strip is also being used as part of new packaging for two of Milk Link’s regional Cheddar ranges, Cadog and Lockerbie.

*In-depth focus group research commissioned by Sainsbury’s. Sample size 51

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