Consumer Packaged Goods

Frustration Packaged

Is there a certain type of packaging that drives you nuts? Do you find some products harder to get to than the gold at Fort Knox? Do you rail at the excessive plastic, cardboard, paper and styrofoam that keeps your breakables from breaking?

If so, you’re not alone. Consumer Reports took a close look at common packaging challenges consumers face, and identified four basic packaging gripes.

Black holes
These are products surrounded by lots of air. Federal law is supposed to prevent excessive “slack fill” or nonfunctional or empty space, but there are loopholes in the law, if, for instance, the package does double-duty as a dispenser. One example of a black hole is Kraft Velveeta Shells & Cheese containers. Even when cooked, the shells and sauce occupy little of the container.

This is Consumer Reports’ term for unnecessarily hard-to-open products. These are often tech gadgets ensconced in a clear, tight-fitting plastic, which displays merchandise from all angles and discourages theft. But it also foils honest folks who have tried razor blades, scissors, box cutters, and even saws to free the contents they’ve bought.

Downsized products
These are products whose packages are shrunken by companies as an alternative to a blatant price increase. Companies usually blame downsizing on higher costs of ingredients, labor, and energy. Downsizing can be sneaky—Huggies kept the words “New Larger” on the label, despite reducing the number of Pull-Ups diapers from 72 to 70 .

Golden cocoons
These are small items shipped in oversized cartons, sometimes with enough paper, bubble wrap, or airbags to cradle a priceless vase. Not taking any chances, Williams-Sonoma cradled the cotton napkins it sent to one Consumer Reports reader in bubble wrap, then placed them in a large box before shipping.

The full report is available online at, and in the December 2012 issue of Consumer Reports.

Categorias: Consumer Packaged Goods

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