The EU paper industry is one of the driving forces behind reducing carbon emissions. Companies must be sustainable yet continue to make packaging that is appealing and affordable. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to brand-owners and printing experts from companies such as OM Skincare and Headland Printers about using paper to its full potential.
Europe produces more than 90 million tons of paper each year. This industry has been vocal about the goals it wants to achieve by 2050 – especially its aim to reduce carbon emissions by 80%. Paper was the first EU manufacturing sector to create a road map in its bid to eventually adopt a low-carbon economy. As a huge industrial producer and consumer of renewable energy sources, the paper industry has more than a 55% share of the biomass market, and must play a major part in saving the environment.
Best for beauty
Paper is a popular choice for responsible packaging; the fast-growing artisan trend uses this material to give products an appealing ‘handmade’ vibe, while luxury brands value the quality of its texture. These reasons are why London-based beauty company OM Skincare has chosen paper to add special touches to its high-end products.
Dr Om Prawarisa, the brand’s founder, says, “OM Skincare is multipurpose, simple and sophisticated. Special details were added to every part of the packaging; the signature curves were inspired by my love of travel, and how I split my time between London and Bangkok. The product’s packaging is clean and simple, with white bottles and gold elements that provide a luxurious touch. The paper cartons represent the OM story, with hand-drawn plants symbolising the natural ingredients, and the hummingbird representing beauty, freedom, femininity and intelligence.”
A unique feature of the company’s packaging endorses the luxury and responsible quality of paper, all while tying together the brand’s philosophy. Each carton includes a beautiful paper message of positivity that boosts the customer’s well-being, making good on its promise to deliver ‘a state of om’. Prawarisa explains, “We encourage mindfulness when customers use our products, in order to maximise their effectiveness. I’ve added in the messages to remind users of this, and I love to make them feel special when they open a new product. Many of our customers buy the products as a gift for someone special, passing on these special feelings too.”
Prawarisa elaborates on how paper plays an important role in the performance and aesthetic of her eponymous brand, especially for multipurpose products such as the Mindful Traveller, which is gaining a cult following thanks to its sleek design and efficacy. “The packaging’s aesthetic is important but the overall design has to be functional and practical. Our packaging helps to preserve the products and is compatible with the contents inside. We faced a number of challenges: the original packaging, for example, was not compatible with the product, resulting in leakage, the colour screen coming out differently on the paper and having to adjust the pantone. I appreciate the work done by the packaging industry so much more after our hands-on experience with the developing process – it was far beyond what I could have ever imagined.”
Ready for the food sector
Paper is also chosen as the packaging solution for innovative and responsible food brands, due to its tactile and ecologically sound credentials working well with brands that want to immediately convey their unique selling points. Take award-winning family brand Nom Noms World Food, which has a delicious and nutritious range of ready meals that tap into this profitable supermarket sector.
The north London-based company was founded by entrepreneur Lisa Sohanpal and her husband Dr Imrat Sohanpal, and is marketed as ‘a healthy and wholesome brand that really makes the most of authentic world flavours’. Nom Noms creates chilled ready meals that are available in two sizes and use unique packaging to compartmentalise each element of the meal, so they come together in one beautiful carton that delivers on the ‘global flavours’ promise. Lisa Sohanpal says, “We are a new brand that wants to revolutionise the chilled ready meal market by introducing healthy and tasty international cuisines in two sizes that are suitable for the whole family. We set Graphic Packaging International the challenge of developing an eye-catching and easy to use multi-compartment carton that created a ‘food experience’ for the consumer – no matter their age.”
Nom Noms has identified the 33-million strong demographic of ‘kitchen evaders and convenience seekers’ that are divided into subcategories: families, kids and busy individuals. The company stresses that the right packaging helps to deliver food that is ‘healthy, convenient and bursting with natural ingredients’, which removes the need to venture to restaurants or takeaways. Already available across many of the UK’s leading supermarkets – including Waitrose and Tesco – Nom Noms will also be sold in French supermarkets Monoprix and Franprix from December.
Lisa Sohanpal adds, “The shape of the carton was designed to minimise waste space and be easy to ship for online orders, while still looking striking on the store shelf. The cleverly designed net can be glued first time; the carton’s compartments include fold back tabs that hold the food product trays in place; and the pack is secured with a tablock carton clasp for visual appeal and tamper evidence. As a brand, we like to communicate authenticity, health and storytelling elements through our packaging, so it was important to include our brown paper luggage tag as part of the ‘for tastebuds that love to travel’ strapline. We use a matte finish, as opposed to the high gloss that you often see in highly processed foods, and we use visual cues to display the protein that is used in that cuisine. Our international flavours include Arabian, Caribbean and Asian foods.”
Adventurous and effective
Artisan-chocolate brand Trenance Chocolate has also embraced the visual appeal of paper for its handcrafted luxury chocolates. The company, which was founded in 2002, makes it products in small batches in Mullion, Cornwall, to emphasise its focus on local and tourist trade; however, Trenance has enjoyed rapid development through its easy to use website and global shipping of products.
Jonathan Raftery, founder and managing director, understands the importance of packaging in brand building, particularly with his choice of quality uncoated paper board that reflect the brand’s ethos. “We know that packaging is as important as first impressions, so if the packaging isn’t up to scratch then the customer may not even notice the product on the shelf. As chocolate can be fragile and delicate, we need practical packaging that is hand packed, assembled and ready to ship, which provides protection as well as that all important wow factor,” he says. “Our recent rebrand defined a more natural feel, and the uncoated paper board seems to fit well with this. A pinch-top box makes a great-looking gift too, so this was the way forward. The next challenge was to get the size right to fit our outer packaging, and to print them efficiently without wasting resources or money.”
Trenance worked with Headland Printers, Penzance, Cornwall, on its new packaging, setting the challenge of finding a cross -brand style that appealed to every age and customer group. Raftery adds, “Paper is a very tactile material that is suited to the look and feel of our new branding – and the uncoated, slightly rough paper gives a more natural feel. Price was not as important as the overall finish, but paper does make for an economical choice.”
Protect the performance
Headland Printers has been serving the Cornish community for more than 50 years. Co-directors Chris Jenkin and Marc Clements purchased the company in 2007 and, thanks to an ambitious investment and development plan, they have upgraded the company with a completely new suite of machinery, including state-of-the-art computer-to-plate systems, a five-colour B3 press and two digital presses, as well as plenty of finishing and office equipment, plus an in-house design department.
Clients like Trenance give the company a perfect opportunity to flex its creative and manufacturing muscles. “Jonathan at Trenance Chocolate is a dream customer: he knows exactly what he wants, the amounts he requires and how he wants it to look. Our designer Rose Robinson produced some stunning artwork and this, together with Jonathan’s vision for the packaging, meant that Trenance would really stand out from other chocolate manufacturers. The use of uncoated paper stock and striking colours gave it a great visual and tactile presence,” explains Jenkin. “Jonathan immediately understood the technicalities of making the right-sized packaging for his needs, and how to design the box to ensure the best yield from the sheet size. This made the packaging cost-effective and allowed us to use the best possible material to develop the best finished product.”
As a positive advocate of working closely with local customers, Jenkin is also a passionate supporter of smart-online ordering for packaging. He concludes, “For a small design and print company like us – especially being based in a very rural location – the trend towards online print ordering has benefitted us greatly. You really need to cover all bases in print these days; just printing on paper will always make it a struggle to survive. Digital production needs to overcome the thickness of stock and surface-finish problem, then the cost per unit will naturally drop. The print trade will be at its mercy.”