The firm - which also owns the Udi’s and Glutino gluten-free brands - claims the square tubs will increase shelf efficiency by 50% in stores and could increase warehouse efficiency by 30-60%.
Switching from a 4.5-inch diameter round tub to a 4-inch wide square tub will allow retailers to put 60 units on the shelf in the same space that previously held 40, increasing facings from 10 to 12 and rows from four to five deep, claimed the firm.
Fewer out of stocks, more products on shelf
Reaction from retail customers has been “strongly positive,” said CEO Steve Hughes, who stressed that the move involved no changes to price, weight, volume or ingredients and no additional costs for customers.
If other manufacturers follow suit, retailers will be able to reduce out of stocks and offer great variety on the shelf, he added: “If our leadership motivates other spreads and dairy items to go square, larger grocers can gain up to 30 or 40 feet on the shelves.
“This allows retailers to introduce new foods to consumers.”
Square tubs mean fewer GHG emissions
A study conducted for Boulder Brands by sustainability consulting firm Renewable Choice Energy also found that the new design would reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the products’ packaging, distribution, and retail energy-use by 18% over the course of the products’ life cycle.
“The new package design reduces the amount of shelf space occupied by each product at stores, and also requires less material to produce,” said Matt Wood, vice president of consulting for Renewable Choice.
The new square packs - which will start to hit shelves late in the second quarter of 2013 - will apply to 13 varieties of Smart Balance buttery spreads and five varieties of Earth Balance natural and organic buttery spreads.
The spreads category in Europe is already largely in square or rectangular packaging
But if square packaging is such a no-brainer, why isn't everyone doing it?
John Becker, senior vice president and general manager at the Smart Balance brand, told FoodNavigator-USA: "It’s not more prevalent because a change of this kind is a major undertaking from a manufacturing standpoint; particularly if a brand has multiple lines and production locations. In our case, it’s four locations. [But] we have made this investment on our own and costs will not be passed on to grocers and consumers."
He added: "The spreads category in Europe is already largely in square or rectangular packaging, and our own consumer research indicates that consumers will prefer the new square tub over the old round tub because it fits better in the refrigerator."
Click here to read about Boulder Brands' ambitions in the gluten-free sector.