Heinz Wants Fridge-Door Home for New Bottle

August 7, 2007

Heinz Wants Fridge-Door Home for New Bottle


Published in Chicago Sun Times
News | August 2009

by Janel Rausa Fuller, Staff Reporter

It's a kitchen conundrum for ketchup lovers: How do you fit the jumbo Heinz bottle in the refrigerator door?

Short answer is you can't. The bottle, with its long, tapered neck, is just too tall. And forget about trying to extract the last bit of ketchup from the bulky bottle.

The Heinz folks have set out to fix all that.  They've come out with a squatter, sportier-looking bottle that fits into that all- important door slot -- prime real estate for food companies vying for consumers' dollars.

"Whatever's on the fridge door tends to be a little more visible and more accessible, and perhaps used more often," said Robin Teets, a Heinz spokesman.

Research by Heinz shows people often push the big ketchup bottles to the back of the fridge where "they ended up being a refrigerator fossil," said Peter Clarke, CEO of Product Ventures, the Connecticut firm that designed the new bottles. "And the large-size bottles were too tall and too tippy so they couldn't even invert them to get the last bit of ketchup out of them."

Grocery shelves' 'sweet spot'

The new 46- and 64-ounce bottles, which replace the traditional economy- size bottles, have side grips and a wide flip-top cap. That way, the bottles can stand upside down, just like the inverted bottles Heinz introduced in 2002 to deal with that other conundrum -- squirting out the watery stuff to get to the ketchup.

It's all part of a larger effort by Heinz to get people to buy and eat more ketchup. 

Ketchup is the most used condiment, present in 95 percent of U.S. households, according to the research firm Mintel Group. But Heinz officials say consumption has flattened in recent years, and according to data from Information Resources Inc., total ketchup sales have been sliding since 2003 -- down 4.4 percent since last July. 

That's where packaging comes in. In addition to being easier to handle and store, the new Heinz bottles also fit on the middle shelves in grocery stores -- called the "sweet spot" because they're at eye level -- as opposed to the lonely bottom shelf. 

Ketchup isn't the only condiment getting a packaging makeover.

Upside-down squeeze bottles now hold everything from jelly to tartar sauce. To achieve zero leakage, design companies, including Crystal Lake-based AptarGroup, which made the closures on the new Heinz bottles, are putting silicone valves in spouts.

Last year, Kraft debuted a "big mouth" rectangular mayonnaise container. It fits in the fridge door and has a rim under the hinged lid for wiping excess mayo off a knife. Experts predict copycats to show up soon in the condiment aisle.


jfuller@suntimes.com 

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