Blisters Enhance Shelf Presence

While packaging suppliers and contract packagers probably wouldn't disagree that all products in a line should communicate a brand consistently, some suppliers advocate something else for attracting consumers. Blister packaging.

"Consumers get nervous because some natural foods stores, where supplements are typically found, package their own products, like wheat," says Demian Rose, a West Coast sales representative for Hueck Foils (Wall, NJ). "So when nutritional companies use generic-looking bottles and labels, packages that could be filled anywhere, people might not trust the products."

Consequently, Rose says that when manufacturers choose blister packaging instead of bottles, it can boost consumer confidence. "Consumers know that nutritionals are not as heavily regulated as pharmaceuticals and may rely on packaging for clues to product quality. More-expensive packaging denotes product stability and company experience," adds Rose.

Sandy Hoehn, manager of marketing and new business development for Pharma Center Shelbyville (Shelbyville, KY), an Alcan Packaging company, agrees, explaining that blisters, especially cold-formed foil blisters, impart quality. "Foil is the absolute barrier—there is no better barrier. Consumers know that it preserves doses until they are consumed."

Hoehn also adds that clear blisters can give products better shelf presence. "Some nutritionals are beautiful in color, like green, so when they are placed in clear blisters in an open carton, consumers can see them better."

Alcan Packaging's contract packaging operation, Margo, is gearing up to deliver blister packaging to nutritional manufacturers. In its new 150,000-sq-ft facility in Bethlehem, PA, the firm has invested in state-of-the-art packaging equipment, including lines from Uhlmann Packaging (Towaco, NJ). "There's more perceived value to blisters—they make nutritionals look more like pharmaceuticals," explains Greg Shaw, director, business development–contract packaging. While the plant will primarily serve pharmaceutical manufacturers, Margo has equipment in place for nutritionals. The facility is also equipped for folding-carton design and manufacturing, blister carding, bottle filling, and hand assembly.

Shaw adds that having a contract packager provide the blister packaging may make such packaging more affordable for nutritional companies. "Since it takes more than a million dollars for a complete blister line, it makes sense to turn to a contract packager."

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