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A Natural Fit

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: October 26, 2006, from the October 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 3 of 5

According to Setzfand, the impact of not using natural packaging would be detrimental to Zia. Consumer perception would be negative, and distribution opportunities would be more limited.

In addition to the growing naturals market spurred by consumer demands, retailers are making a push of their own toward sustainable packaging. Wal-Mart, for example, has launched its own global environmental sustainability program, impacting the way products seeking to gain shelf space will be packaged. Wal-Mart buys products from more than 60,000 suppliers in 70 countries, and sells from 35,000 to 100,000 product lines in each of its 6,000-plus stores and clubs to more than 138 million weekly customers. The retailer has previously demanded that its top 100 suppliers must use RFID technology, so demands made regarding sustainable packaging are not difficult to imagine.

This push coincides with marketers of naturals expanding both domestic and international distribution channels with increased penetration into traditional retail outlets.

Challenges and Solutions

Constructing natural packaging means fewer materials to work with and close scrutiny of product compatibility, requiring strong supplier partnerships and shifts in traditional packaging supplier paradigms.

“We work very closely with our suppliers to source these materials since these projects often require additional investments in time and resources to find and evaluate natural packaging options,” said Setzfand. “Suppliers are increasingly willing to investigate and source natural packaging solutions. The challenge is most often the premium price and availability of material in a timely manner. Lead times can extend out three to four months.”