Fisherman’s Friend lozenges are sold in more than 100 countries. Printed with the familiar fishing trawler, the pack has been established for many years and is instantly recognisable around the world.
Changing the packaging of such an iconic brand presented a considerable challenge. Following their previous success in introducing Amcor EasyPack for a range of chewing gum, Lofthouse of Fleetwood turned once again to Amcor.
The traditional paper based packs are easily creased. The packs are not sufficiently robust to withstand the stresses they are exposed to in some harsh environments. To address these issues, Lofthouse of Fleetwood wanted a solution with easy open and reclose as well as improved gas and moisture barrier to reduce product spoilage. Finally, the new pack had to improve the overall shelf impact whilst maintaining and further enhancing the brand image.
The pack was initially to be launched in Asia, an important growth area for Lofthouse of
Fleetwood. Due to the high temperatures and humidity in this region, coupled with the hygroscopic nature of the lozenge, there was a high potential for product spoilage, if the pack’s barrier was compromised.
The launch was to serve as a ‘test bed’ for the new pack format. If successful, it could be introduced to other markets.
The greatest care, respect and close contact with the customer during every stage of the
development were crucial to finding the ideal solution.
It was an essential requirement for Lofthouse of Fleetwood that their Asian distributors were in complete agreement with any planned changes. They were to be instrumental in the decision making process.
“We presented three different solutions at a specially convened meeting in Bangkok in October 2007,” explains Amcor Flexibles Key Account Manager Wayne Hallsworth.
“We needed printed and fully functioning samples so that Lofthouse of Fleetwood and their distributors could see and feel how each option could be tailored to their specific requirements. There was no time to produce production samples, so we employed the services of a company specialising in production quality mock-ups. These were produced in a range of shapes and sizes, incorporating different print effects. Being able to present such high quality, fully functioning samples made the decision making process far easier for our customer."
A key consideration was the material specification. Fisherman’s Friend lozenges require a high barrier to gas, moisture and aroma since they are hygroscopic and contain menthol. Due to the extreme climatic conditions in Asia, the lozenges need to be adequately protected. APET/Alu foil/PE was identified to meet these needs.
Paul Blackman, the then Amcor Flexibles UK Development Team Manager, takes up the story; “We chose to make the sachet from a polyester, aluminium foil and polyethylene laminate as this helped to address all the customer, consumer and product technical requirements. Polyester because of its suitability for laser etching and high temperature resistance; aluminium foil for its excellent barrier properties to moisture, gas and aroma and finally a special polyethylene to provide hermetic seals around the integral zip, at the packing speeds demanded by Lofthouse of Fleetwood.
Reverse printing the PET allows the ink to be sandwiched which eliminates scuffing. It also provides a glossy appearance which both modernises the image and allows the packs to be wiped clean - unlike the existing paper based pack - which was a key requirement of the brief”.
Lofthouse of Fleetwood and their distributors opted for a sachet pack, incorporating a contour laser for easy opening and an integral zip for re-close. This option resembled the existingpack and fulfilled the brief of ‘evolution, not revolution’.
The final structure would have a hygienic and modern appearance with greater resistance to tearing, scuffing and puncturing (reducing product push through) than the existing paper based pack.
The next step in the development process was to ensure that the proposed solution could be manufactured to the standards demanded by Lofthouse of Fleetwood. The Amcor plant in Schüpbach, Switzerland was chosen as the lead manufacturing site and produced the first trial material. Following extensive and successful packing machine trials, Lofthouse of Fleetwood placed product samples on stability testing to measure the performance of the laminate in prolonging the shelf life of the lozenges.
To complete their evaluation, Lofthouse of Fleetwood conducted qualitative and quantitative market research in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This was considered vital to understand consumer’s attitudes towards the new pack format and ensure that they compared favourably with the existing pack.
The stability tests confirmed that the material provided exceptional barrier compared to the existing material. The feedback from the consumer research was extremely positive and overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed new pack.
With these results, Lofthouse of Fleetwood decided to accelerate the Singapore launch to October 2008 and Amcor Flexibles received the first order in May 2008 for a range of eight 25g packs.
Since the launch, Fisherman’s Friend sales in Singapore have enjoyed double digit growth in what is currently a declining market due to the global economic downturn.
“The new pack format meets our brief precisely and we are very pleased with the results”, said Lofthouse of Fleetwood Technical & Planning Executive Robert Woodhouse.
“The pack appears to have been readily accepted by our customers and the presentation on shelf is much improved. Early sales figures are very encouraging.”
The product is now being rolled out in Malaysia with other markets in South East Asia to follow.