Variety Packs: Paperboard & Corrugated

Today’s manufacturers are turning to variety packs to increase the value and flexibility offered to customers. Despite their advantages from a consumer perspective, creating variety packs can be challenging for producers, particularly when they want to swap between multiple variety pack sizes and types. Variety packs are becoming more prevalent in the food and beverage industries to provide several products of different flavors in a single point-of-purchase package.

Customers are looking to variety packs as a method to serve many tastes and desires while also providing a cost-effective way to “sample” several products without investing in a large-quantity single-flavor purchase (for example, a 24-pack of craft brew with multiple flavors).

Douglas has been committed to creating versatile secondary packaging solutions for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) manufacturers for over 54 years. The expansion of our cartoning product line capabilities provides an ideal solution for variety pack applications.

How Are Variety Packs Made?

Unfortunately for most CPG manufacturers, the work that goes into packaging multiple products is difficult. Their production facilities and distribution centers are focused on producing, storing and picking single SKU packaging for their retail customers. Facility space is often at a premium, and because this type of work is done as a secondary step after products are in inventory, it’s hard to justify the cost of equipment or the hassle of finding the labor it takes to complete these projects. Generally, variety packs are currently assembled by hand which requires a large labor effort and cost. One company recently evaluated that it added approximately $4 (~15%) to the cost of their package to produce a variety pack offering.

Various levels of automation are available, depending on the manufacturer’s product. Each step requires differing levels of automation and cost. Below is a step-by-step example of automating a variety pack for beer cans:

  1. Automatic Storage & Retrieval (ASR) pallet retrieval
  2. Robotic removal of trays from pallet
  3. Robotic removal of cans from trays
  4. Collation of different flavors of cans in preparation for cartons
  5. Loading and closing of cartons
  6. Reloading trays that were emptied in step 3
  7. Re-palletize filled trays

The volume of the variety pack business determines if automation can be justified. Automation can also be built incrementally by starting with the most difficult steps to achieve by hand (steps 4 & 5 in the example above). As volume and labor costs dictate, the natural progression would be to then look at steps 3 and/or 6 due to ease of automation. Step 7 would be the next logical step with 1 & 2 being more costly and difficult to implement.

Key Advantages of Variety Packs

Consumer Benefits

Variety packs offer better value for consumers by allowing them to experiment with different flavors to find the ones they like most while only investing in one product. Variety packs also take away indecision about the product and allow consumers to feel more comfortable purchasing the variety pack as opposed to just one product type.

Producer Benefits

Variety packs bring versatility and growth generation opportunities to producers by giving consumers multiple price points and incentivizing larger purchases via quantity discounts. They also help mitigate packing and shipping expenses on inexpensive items, boosting the profitability of lower-priced items.

Douglas Variety Pack Solutions

Douglas Machine offers variety pack automation solutions and provides a number of the automation steps listed in the examples above. Contact us to discuss your application and we will help determine the cost and labor justification of each automation step.

Douglas’ innovative Vantra™ IM is a compact, economical intermittent motion cartoner with the flexibility to set up, load and close cartons and trays at speeds up to 55 per minute within a single platform. The Vantra IM cartoner can be integrated with various infeed options to gently handle cans, bottles, cartons, bags, flat-flow wrapped product and more, including applications requiring multiple manipulations.

The Vantra IM’s Rainbow/Variety Pack capability grants producers the flexibility to mix packed end products through one or two machine infeeds, giving consumers the chance to experience a wider spectrum of product from one carton.

Find the Perfect Packaging Solution With Douglas Machine

Douglas offers the resources and support needed to find the optimal cartoner solution for your variety pack application. Contact Douglas Machine with your variety pack application questions today!

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