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Uflex cooks up a highly functional rice bag

Uflex Veetee rice side view
Redesign for UK’s Veetee rice packaging adds view window, soft handle and other value-added features that raise the product’s appearance and functionality.

One of the United Kingdom’s largest rice suppliers, Veetee, faced four obstacles that were stymieing the company's overall brand value:

1. Diminished shelf appeal of the big bags at the point of sale (POS);

2. Ergonomic discomfort of consumers while carrying the bags;

3. Restricted opening of the bags which posed a difficulty in accessing the product;

4. Poor stacking ability with frequent slipping of the bags.

As India’s largest multinational flexible packaging materials and Solution Company, Uflex approached Veetee with a holistic solution to plug these gaps so that the true potential of the brand could be unleashed.

Uflex, based in Noida, India, is the country’s largest multinational flexible packaging materials and solutions company and an emerging global player, offering packaging solutions for a wide variety of products including snack foods, candy and confectionery, sugar, rice and other cereals, beverages, tea and coffee.

Uflex offered Veetee a new, three-dimensional package with a front opening through a slide-to-close (STC) zipper. The front, back and bottom panels of the pack are a 3-ply structure comprising stackable polyester/ metallized polyester/ polyethylene (sealant layer). The side panels/gussets are made of polyester/polyester/polyethylene that make it convenient to have a provision for transparent windows on either side so that consumers can see through to the rice packed inside and make an informed choice. The reclosable feature of the bag allows consumers to retrieve only the required amount of product at a time and using the rest later without hampering the quality or aroma. Thus, the barrier properties of the bag remain intact throughout the prescribed shelf life of the product.

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Mr. Anup Sachdeva, Joint President Packaging (Global Exports) at Uflex said, “One of the major pain points that Veetee had been facing was the stiff punch handle that their European converter was offering. These punched handles used to almost slit the fingers of the consumers buying 10-15 kg bulk packs. In the packaging solution that we engineered for Veetee Rice, we offered a handle that’s on the side gusset. It is extremely soft and is made of a special proprietary polymeric composition. No other convertor across the world has been able to offer such a soft side handle.

“When consumers hold the rice pack through side handle the centre of gravity of the load shifts downwards. This reduces the potential energy of the pack, thus lessening the strain in the hands of the consumers. This is pure physics!”

Soft handles improve filling

Because of the soft handles, the filling productivity of the packers actually increases. Usually when the side handles are stiff they do not completely flatten in the side gusset as a result of which lesser number of preformed packs can be fed in the magazine of the filling and sealing machine. With hard and stiff side handles, the number of packs per magazine hover somewhere around 20-25, whereas with Uflex’s soft handle the number of packs per magazine goes up to as high as 125-150.

“Not only does this increase the filling efficiency/productivity but also slashes the labor cost of the packer,” said Sachdeva.

Sachdeva further added, Veetee wanted an augmented shelf appeal for the brand to stand out in an already inundated retail space. Trusting our capabilities, Veetee gave us a free hand to modify its artwork. Our pre-press department did an exceptionally good job with the graphics which the Management of Veetee quite liked and approved rather quickly. This was further topped up with high definition reversed rotogravure printing. The rotogravure cylinder for this job was manufactured at our fully automatic robotic laser engraving line which ensures unmatched consistency in printing besides offering High Definition image re-production capability of 6,400 DPI. We used the Extended Gamut Printing Process (EG-7)on the rotogravure press in this case to infuse standardization of printing. The Packaging was not printed as a combination of CMYK and spot inks.

Print and COF details

“The press was standardized on CMYK + 3 extra/special inks (orange, green & blue). By adding extra colors to the traditional CMYK range, we were able to achieve more and better colour without any printing variations that cause visual aberrations. This actually worked wonders in getting that unmistakable and alluring shelf appeal the client [desired]. The 3D-pack has five panels that are fully utilised for offering a 360-degree branding canvas emphatically engaging the consumers at the point of sale (POS).”

To address the slippage issues while stacking, Uflex used a stackable polyester as the top substrate/layer (in the laminate) which has a high coefficient of friction preventing the bags from slipping thereby maintaining orderliness in the stack. Uflex’s Films Business engineered this special stackable polyester film. Conventional paper with high coefficient of friction (COF) is used and placed under each layer of stack during the process of palletization. This paper itself used to be as expensive, and added to that, the labor cost of manually applying these sheets during the process of stacking further made the entire proposition even more expensive.

“The pack that we have engineered for Veetee clearly obviates these costs,” explained Sachdeva.  “This again is a big merit. In the nutshell we have been able to address all four of the challenges that their brand was grappling with. With our innovation and end-to-end flexible packaging solution oriented approach we have been able to replace the European Convertor that Veetee had been working with.  Owing to this complete metamorphosis in its packaging Veetee Rice packs have successfully made inroads in retail chains across the UK and are doing phenomenally well.

“A packaging that has been conceived and manufactured in India is going great guns in the United Kingdom. This is indeed a big win! We are getting a lot of enquiries from Europe and Middle East for similar packaging solutions.”

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