Can We Do Something More With Soup On-The-Go? Part 02

In part 01 I gave an overview of the actual soup (dry and liquid) market targeting the on-the-go consumer. In this part I will describe some designs which easily can be adapted to the soup market.

Our modern lifestyle, with people constantly on the move and expecting flexibility and practical solutions, has given rise to completely new consumer patterns. For many consumers, it is important that their meals can be prepared and consumed without unnecessary bother, and they expect food producers to make the entire process as straightforward as possible.

A cup-of-soup from instant powder isn’t seen anymore as an alternative lunch, not even as a snack. Consumers want higher quality, healthy ingredients and a convenient packaging, but above all they also want to eat their quick lunch in style. In other words the fish-and-chips, how delicious they might be, can’t be packed in an old paper journal anymore. It is the same with soup. A thin soup from instant powder isn’t what the consumer wants. He wants a creamy, thick soup with fresh vegetables and herbs. It’s a meal remember!

So, let’s have a look now at innovative soup (or related, or as such usable) packages, which didn’t come much further than the brand (or even worse the brain of the designer) which introduced the original first. They didn’t got to the stage of a trend, but I don’t agree to mark them as a gimmick either. It is just that the soup branch apparently is very traditional.
But it all depends of what you want. Enter into (or maintain your brand in) the low-level, cheap and folksy soups. Or are you looking at a higher level, natural ingredients, high quality, exclusive tastes, consequently a more interesting packaging.

Here are some examples which, in my opinion need more followers. We start with some designs for dry soups. Still a very interesting market with a wide choice of packaging innovations. From a simple, but elegant solution to a more sophisticated and exclusive packaging.

The Coffree – Originally designed as (instant) coffee pack, the Coffree, is also suitable for dry (instant powder) soups. The South Korean designers Young-an Seok, Young-woo Choi and Se-ryung Nam created a foldable instant coffee pack The Coffree. It is essentially a sachet of instant coffee, which turns out to be a foldable disposable cup that comes sealed with the instant coffee mix. The consumer simply tears off the seal, to form a tall, squared, paper cup, mixes in hot water and his cup of coffee is ready. Even a stirring stick derived from the seal comes with the pack.

Furthermore it doesn’t need much imagination to see this packaging as a perfect solution for dry instant soup for on-the-go. Much better than a simple sachet, leaving you to find the cup, the spoon/stirrer and the hot water.

Is the above suitable for dry powdered soups only, the next allows for some extras, namely the small pieces of vegetables, herbs and even maybe some small pieces of dried meat or chicken.

Accordion Noodle Package – Instant noodles and pastas are popular on-the-go products. The new container, baptized Accordion Noodle Package, for instant noodles, designed by the South Koreans Liu Yi, Jiang Yuning & Luo Jing, comes compressed into a small size with the dry noodles in it, while the consumer can stretch the accordion into a bigger cup to allow to add hot water and consume.
The accordion-like surface is said to decrease the contact points with the hands to prevent burning. After the noodles are eaten, the cup can be compressed to save space in the trash bin.

Instant noodles and pastas are similar to dried soup with pieces of vegetables and meat. It’s easy to see that this packaging offers many advantages for the consumer. The small collapsed cup, can hold natural ingredients in pieces, which influence the quality of the soup. Furthermore it is easy to carry in a jacket pocket or purse and ready-to-serve. As the package has a smaller volume when it leaves the manufacturer’s place, it cuts down the cost of bulk transportation.

In general you can say and many market and consumer research reports point in that direction, that although the consumer on-the-go, might be in a hurry with little time available, he isn’t inclined to shove his request for convenience, quality and health out of the door. Above these requests, he also wants a better presentation of his quick lunch. It might be a quick-bite, but certainly it can be eaten in style, can’t it?
If you ask me for a trend, then this is the one. The mentioned actual soup packages don’t inhabit this feature. Neither a tin, nor a Tetra, or a pouch offer style. With a plastic cup, you can do wonders. Again from simple to the exclusive but simple design from Thailand.

Choucroute Box – Stoeffler in France launched its bestseller (Choucroute) in a box to create diversity in the market. The content of the ‘Choucroute’ box resembles the traditional sauerkraut with its cabbage, sausage, bacon and potatoes, but in small pieces so the consumer doesn’t need a knife to eat it.
The 300gr Choucroute packed in a plastic tray, supplied by the Danish company Faerchplast, is enclosed in a paperboard box. The pack includes a fork so the dish is ready to eat after 2 minutes in the microwave.
Even though the plastic tray is hot when removed from the microwave, the consumer won’t burn his fingers as the surrounding paperboard packaging remains cool.

This is an interesting packaging for soup. Well, when you intend to sell thick creamy soup with vegetables or other ingredients, that is. In other words a quality soup, that’s not a snack, but a small meal. No instant powder soup but a real ready-to-eat soup.

Greenseas ‘lunch bite’ – The next is a similar one. Perfect for a creamy, thick soup with lots of vegetables. This microwaveable packaging is used by Heinz Australia for its Greenseas ‘lunch bite’ range with an extended ambient shelf life.

For consumer convenience, an integral spoon has been included together with a printed paperboard outer pack that doubles as a practical stand for microwaving and a tray to avoid handling the heated pot. The sides of the paperboard are perforated; when ready for use, the consumer simply tears off the top part of the paperboard leaving only the base.

The packaging is a robust plastic pot that has been thermoformed at RPC Bebo in the Netherlands in a layered construction combining polypropylene (PP) and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) polymers. It incorporates an oxygen scavenger which minimises any food deterioration, particularly in colour and flavour, ensuring the quality of the product.
No doubt this packaging has all the ingredients and features a consumer-friendly soup packaging needs.

There is a similar one. A bit different, but with some creative thinking, also with some extra possibilities.

Pasta Pronto – This is really a perfect one. We all know that sensitive ingredients as vitamin and herbs start deteriorating the moment they hit water. In other words from the moment the filled packaging leaves the filling line in the factory.

Developed by German food manufacturer Buss, Pasta Pronto offers consumers a format that is convenient in terms of preparation, while delivering a fresh taste compared to ready meals where the pasta and sauce are already mixed together. Separating sauce and pasta into two containers offers the possibility to individually cook ingredients to the optimum point in the factory. In this case the pasta is ‘al dente,’ while the sauces are prepared to bring out their rich flavours.

Manufactured by RPC Bebo Plastik, the tall container holds 300g of pasta, with a smaller round sauce pot that nests upside-down on top of the larger cup. Both packs are thermoformed in high transparent PP, permitting a shelf life of around three weeks.

Before heating, the sauce is poured from the smaller container on top of the pasta into the larger cup. The consumer then places this in the microwave for two minutes. An additional benefit of the pasta container’s design is the inclusion of ribbed insulation that protects the consumer’s fingers from getting burnt after heating.

It’s obvious why I call this one perfect. Imagine a creamy, thick, condensed liquid soup in the top. The nice fresh dried vegetables, herbs and other sensitive ingredients in the bottom. No water added by the manufacturer. Mix both the moment you want to consume, add a bit of water, place in the microwave and you have a beautiful, tasty soup. The best quality you can have.

Tom Yum – Noodle Soup – And now we come to the high-end market as far as packaging is concerned. Fashion Food’s Tom Yum – Noodle Soup Takes it to a Stylish Level.
Tom Yum is a hot and sour piquant soup with a unique quite popular flavour common throughout Thailand. It is a spicy sour garlicky seafood (relatively thin) soup that tastes very limy with a note of aromatic basil, very flavourful with a good seafood aftertaste. The noodles are thin and resilient, staying chewy in hot water.
Generally this type of food snacks comes dried and packed in a plastic overwrap. Not so with Fashion Food’s Creamy Tom Yum. Conveniently packaged in a traditional and elegant saucer type plastic clam-shell with a lid over the bowl, the packaging is decorated with a half body sleeve label. Inside the various ingredients (noodles, seasoning, oil) are separately packaged with a fork included. Perfect for on-the-go, as the consumer just has to add the contents of the packages into the bowl and add one cup of boiling water. Put the lid on top, wait three minutes and enjoy.
Ahh, the Asians know how to eat a delicacy in style. Even on-the-go.

We have seen that almost all soup packages need a microwave to get the soup at the right temperature. Some need only hot water to add and some can, as alternative, be heated in a pan of hot/boiling water. That brings us to the assortment of heating devices, whether they are incorporated in the packaging, as self-heating, or are, as a separate unit, coming with the soup bowl. Then we have the e-Coupled heating device, which is a nice alternative to the microwave, but still needs some extra device to let it do its work. And we go hiking.

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