Less is More: Italian Food Company Finds Sustainability and Cost Savings with Great Northern – Fiber Interior Packaging™


Customer Background
Pasta sauce has consistently been a best seller on Amazon, for this Italian food company. While that’s great news on the sales side, packaging costs, both material and labor, were significant and needed to be reduced. As e-commerce sales grew over the last several years, the packaging costs took a hit, requiring the company’s packaging engineers to think differently.  Their challenge was to find packaging that would protect multiple jars of pasta sauce, meet Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging standards, and pass the rigorous ISTA® 6A testing standards.

Phase 1 – An Origami of Corrugate Inserts
Following their company’s commitment to sustainable practices, it chose to use 100% recyclable corrugate packaging to protect their pasta jar shipments. While that solution satisfied their sustainability goal, the packaging cost was a hit to their bottom line. The problem was two-fold. Material costs were high because the corrugate insert consisted of 7 – 8 pieces to adequately protect and pass the Amazon ISTA 6A Packaging test of the multi-jar pack. The second issue was the labor that was required to fold and position the inserts and jars within the package.

The Operations Project Manager contacted his purchasing department to start scouting for a better solution. Because the product shipped through Amazon, they faced two packaging challenges:

  1. Labor Cost and Materials. The product was repacked at Amazon’s distribution centers, which can be a challenge when packing multiple glass jars of pasta sauce into the same package. Bottled sauce can burst, break, or shatter if not handled and packed properly. This process can take considerable time and packaging material and drives up labor and material costs.
  2. The other challenge was meeting Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) standards. It requires packages shipped through their network to (1) reduce waste, (2) pass the rigorous ISTA® 6 Test, (3) be easy-to-open, and (4) be 100% recyclable curbside. The FFP standards alone required the company to rethink its long-term packaging strategy from sustainability and cost standpoints.

Phase 2: Bubble Wrap, Filler, and an Oversized Box 

At the beginning of their packaging reassessment, the packaging engineers kept it simple – bubble wrap, tape to secure the wrap, and filler for extra protection in an oversized corrugate box. While this packaging method reduced material costs, it still had issues:

  1. Labor costs were high. The outside of each jar had to be hand-wrapped and taped. In addition, pasta jar lids needed extra tape to prevent sauce from leaking during shipment. The packaging was inconsistent from jar to jar, and it took a considerable amount of time to pack several jars into a single box.
  2. The end customer experience wasn’t great. When opening the box, consumers would see bubble wrap and tape. Once unwrapped, the consumer needed to remove the extra tape around the lid, which could be difficult to remove. Also, the bubble wrap and tape could not be recycled.

Protecting Jars for Shipment

The packaging engineers eliminated this option right away because it didn’t meet Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging standards, labor was intensive, and it didn’t improve the user experience. Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging program served as the model and timeline to transition to a more user-friendly, sustainable packaging solution.

Phase 3: Great Northern – Fiber Interior Packaging™  
After looking at other products shipped in glass containers such as cooking oil and wine, the company’s purchasing team identified molded fiber as a potential alternative. The purchasing contact had an existing relationship with Great Northern, and reached out to learn more about its Fiber Interior Packaging™ business unit.

One of the biggest benefits of the molded fiber solution is the labor savings, commented Rob Swannell, General Manager – Fiber Interior Packaging. “It’s a drop and go solution where the pasta jars can be placed in the inserts within a few seconds. There’s no extra materials or configuring.”

Great Northern’s Fiber Interior Packaging solution removed the complexity from the packaging and replaced a significant amount of corrugated material. Before, 7-8 parts were required to build a 4-pack of pasta sauce. Now, the company can use two packaging components, including the outer box.  Great Northern‘s Fiber Interior Packaging reduced material costs by 50%. Labor costs have also dropped considerably. What used to take 45 seconds per package now takes a fraction of the time.

On average, an e-commerce package receives 20-30 touches, so packaging must keep contents from shifting, especially in the case of glass pasta jars, which could break if not packaged correctly.

Swannell explains, “The Fiber Interior Packaging inserts keep the jars securely in place and keep them from shifting in transit. Now this company can have confidence that its pasta sauce jars will arrive at the customer’s doorstep in great condition.”

Learn more about the benefits of using Fiber Interior Packaging to protect jars and bottles during shipping here.

Protective Packaging for Glass Jars

Great Expectations

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