What began as a collaborative project between Ardagh Group and students from the Dutch University of Twente to create a futuristic, ready to (h)eat premium metal packaging concept for food and seafood is now a commercial reality in the form of the All In One Fondü kit with microwavable bowl from Swiss dairy producer Emmi. The company introduced the product, which includes a 400-g bowl of real Swiss cheeses, a stand for the bowl, and a candle, in September 2015 in the Netherlands.
According to Emmi Group’s Marcel Zbinden, Global Category Head Specialty Cheese, Emmi is considered one of the 10 most innovative companies in Switzerland due to its novel products and packaging. “Differentiation versus competitors and private-label products is getting more and more important, also in the rather small, but price-driven fondue category,” he says. “When we saw the [all-in-one fondue] concept for the first time, we immediately realized its potential and that Emmi was the perfect company to develop it further together with its partners.”
These partners included Ardagh, food packaging and engineering consultant DéDutch, and German research organization The Fraunhofer Institute, along with a number of proprietary packaging suppliers.
To meet Emmi’s requirements Ardagh refined the metal bowl concept at its R&D center in Crosmieres, France. Explains Woep Möller, Chief Commercial Officer, Ardagh Group, Metal, “Together with Emmi and The Fraunhofer Institute, we tested special food-safe lacquers to allow the bowl to be heated either in a microwave or a traditional oven and to be kept at the right temperature above a candle at the table. We added our patented printed Easy Peel aluminum opening solution that gives the consumer an easy and quicker means of opening the bowl.”
The recyclable, lacquered tinplate bowl, along with fondue pot stand, provides everything needed to prepare the fondue. “Convenience and quick preparation have become a more and more important trend,” says Zbinden. “The All In One Fondü, with a metal bowl and ready-to-eat cheese fondue made of real Swiss cheeses, has simplified the preparation of this popular dish and is a perfect combination for a quick, easy, and delicious cheese fondue at any time. Furthermore, it helps those who have no experience in cheese fondue to understand that they get more than just a cheese sauce with this. In other words: We’re selling a concept, not only a product.”
Emmi chose a paperboard sleeve with die-cut corners to hold the components of the kit so that consumers can quickly see and understand the all-in-one concept. The sleeve uses graphics developed by LPK and Emmi’s internal design team for Emmi’s entire international fondue range to convey the relaxed and fun atmosphere associated with fondue.
“In the U.S., cheese fondue had its best time in the seventies, so most of the fondue cardboard designs are still stuck in this period, with reference to Swiss mountains and a wooden chalet,” says Zbinden. “But you don’t buy a fondue because it’s from Switzerland; this is just a reassurance for quality. Fondue is a timeless dish. It connects younger and older friends and families and ensures a great time together. This we show with our Fondü Fun Dude, who lives in us all and guarantees to bring out the best in us, combined with a modern visualization of the whole fondue concept with candle instead of the cheese sauce in a pot only.
“The new and modern style, which fits perfectly with our innovative product, should provide more shelf impact and attract younger target groups, who also like the convenient aspect of this concept.”
After launching the product in the Netherlands in the fall, Emmi introduced it in some U.S. supermarket chains with in-and-out promotions. Beginning in January 2016, All In One Fondü will be available at Sobeys in Canada for a suggested retail price of approximately US$11. While only one cheese variety is currently available, Emmi says there will be new choices in the future. In the meantime, it is focusing on creating a refill product for the bowl holder.