« Back to Home Page

Sign up for the 3p daily dispatch:

Heinz Redesigns Ketchup Package. Landfills Groan.

| Friday February 5th, 2010 | 5 Comments

In case you’ve been under a rock, the big news on the street is the incredible new Heinz Ketchup Packet which will apparently revolutionize french fry enjoyment for the 21st century. The packet contains a larger amount of ketchup than the traditional sachet and opens in two ways – the traditional “squeeze” and the newfangled “dip.” Blogs and other media are aflutter with excitement, and Heinz’s corporate communications department is no doubt popping the champagne at a veritable coup d’etat of publicity.

And why not? Love it or hate it, the Heinz Ketchup packet is an established piece of Americana, globally ubiquitous, and depending on your taste for high fructose corn syrup, quite tasty. Successfully re-designing it will cause as much of a ruckus as introducing the New Coke, except it might actually work. Trouble is, the new ketchup packet, like the old one, is still a wasteful mishmash of un-recyclable material symbolic of yesteryear’s “disposable” culture.

You can see where this is going….

Before I get labeled a “hater,” bear in mind, I don’t seek to bash Heinz, or even the idea of a single use container (let’s be honest, sometimes you’re on the run with those fries). Really, I’m just surprised that Heinz has overlooked an opportunity to capitalize on today’s more conscious consumer trends.

One good thing that wasn’t mentioned is that the new container might actually result in a lesser amount of material used since it contains 3 times as much ketchup as the original sachet. Given that you *always* wind up using six of those things, the improved “ketchup efficiency” might merit some kudos. Even the least conscious consumer has a twinge of guilt when he or she finds 14 little crumpled packets on the floor mat of their car.

But what a great opportunity to do more! Since the packet costs more already, why not introduce new materials, perhaps something corn-based, or at least do something that questions the god-given right to horde as many packets as humanly possible.

Today’s consumers are starting to think more deeply about what they use and throw away. The real market opportunity ($10 Trillion worth) lies in not ignoring this fact. Heinz will get a big splash of publicity out of its new packets, but will it result in sustained enthusiasm? My argument is that without a greener, more conscientious angle, the risk of a fading fad is greater. We’ll see who’s right.


▼▼▼      5 Comments     ▼▼▼

Newsletter Signup
  • http://GreenBusinessVillage.com/ Scott Cooney

    Brilliant critique, Nick. Ketchup (and thus packaging) efficiency does perhaps have merit, you're right, but the opportunity was missed, BIG TIME. Heinz has all this expensive communications and PR going on, and how much more effective it would be in creating consumer loyalty if it also had an element of “we're doing the right thing”.

    • Chris Harold

      You can set up as many global defense funds, environmentalist groups as you want but nothing will change until companies start doing the right thing instead of setting trends. As important as this “news” may seem, it's irrelevant to the majority of the economy. If Heinz were to use recyclable material to make green label packaging it would make an impact rather than a headline.

  • Pingback: Left Turn at Albuquerque » Ketchup Packets Catch Up To The Times

  • Pingback: Pepper and Dylan Show » Blog Archive » New Heinz Ketchup Package

  • Pingback: Roundup: Dr. Suess Cease-and-Disist, Philips, EPA, Melting Drywall · Environmental Leader · Green Business, Sustainable Business, and Green Strategy News for Corporate Sustainability Executives

  • Pingback: A Heinz Redesign. For Better Or Worse? « Cause Integration

  • http://VivBizClub.com/ Dinesh Thirupuvanam

    I wonder if compostable packaging was a no go from a health / sanitation standpoint. I'm guessing some of those packets have been sitting around for years (decades??) in the backs or fronts of some fast food restaurants. If the packaging was compostable and broke down in-store (PLA in particular breaks down in high heat), I could see a lot of angry Heinz's clients & restaurant managers.

    Agreed on the missed opportunity – I just wonder if they looked into it…

  • http://conservationvalue.blogspot.com/ Jon Gelbard

    Not impressed. I think these useless, wasteful mini condiment packets should be banned. What's a better solution for sauce-loving customers? If customers request ketchup, they just get a couple of to-go plastic mini containers filled with ketchup at the restaurant (which can use the kind of little containers with caps that can be compostable). If the customer doesn't request ketchup, they don't get the 5-10 packets that many restaurants still toss in your to-go bag. I don't like plastic mini-dipping cups either, but at least they can be recycled (or composted if bioplastic).

    Now as a ketchup lover, I also friggin despise mini packets for practical reasons. It usually takes me like 5+ packets to get the amount of ketchup I need for fries, hot dogs and burgers. (which fortunately, I eat only a few times a year). And I sometimes end up with the ketchup squirting in some unexpected direction.

    My solution has always been to favor establishments that offer ketchup (and other condiment) dispensers. I usually avoid the wasteful little plastic or paper dipping cups they offer by either (1) unwrapping my sandwich and pumping some ketchup on the wrapper, or (2) making space for ketchup in my fries container (if it's a more open tub).

    Anyway, that's my two cents on sustainable condiment consumption.

    Does anyone know what restaurants did before mini-packets were available?

  • http://conservationvalue.blogspot.com/ Jon Gelbard

    Not impressed. I think these useless, wasteful mini condiment packets should be banned. What's a better solution for sauce-loving customers? If customers request ketchup, they just get a couple of to-go plastic mini containers filled with ketchup at the restaurant (which can use the kind of little containers with caps that can be compostable). If the customer doesn't request ketchup, they don't get the 5-10 packets that many restaurants still toss in your to-go bag. I don't like plastic mini-dipping cups either, but at least they can be recycled (or composted if bioplastic).

    Now as a ketchup lover, I also friggin despise mini packets for practical reasons. It usually takes me like 5+ packets to get the amount of ketchup I need for fries, hot dogs and burgers. (which fortunately, I eat only a few times a year). And I sometimes end up with the ketchup squirting in some unexpected direction.

    My solution has always been to favor establishments that offer ketchup (and other condiment) dispensers. I usually avoid the wasteful little plastic or paper dipping cups they offer by either (1) unwrapping my sandwich and pumping some ketchup on the wrapper, or (2) making space for ketchup in my fries container (if it's a more open tub).

    Anyway, that's my two cents on sustainable condiment consumption.

    Does anyone know what restaurants did before mini-packets were available?

  • Pingback: Five Global Companies Pledge Cooperation on Bioplastic

  • Pingback: Alterra Coffee Plus Mars' Flavia: A Sustainable Combo?