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Q&A: Repackaging the cereal aisle, John Ferro, Kellogg Co.

BY Barbara White-Sax

Cereal boxes have looked pretty much the same since the 1950s. Now with Kellogg’s testing a new cereal box design in a few markets, the cereal aisle could be in for a change, with boxes designed to be more consumer, retailer and environment-friendly. Drug Store News spoke with John Ferro, director of commercialization for Kellogg Co. about what the company hopes to achieve with its new packaging.

Drug Store News: We haven’t seen a lot of change in packaging in the cereal category. What will the new packaging look like and how does it answer consumer needs?

John Ferro: Kellogg Co. is always looking for ways to build on our 100-plus year heritage of innovative thinking and consumer relevancy. We know consumers’ needs are evolving, and it’s time to look differently at the cereal box. We decided to test options that help address consumers’ desires for space-saving packages that use less space in their pantries. We are testing a new, space-saving cereal box that could redefine the cereal aisle as we’ve known it for the past five decades. The boxes we are testing in Detroit are shorter and deeper, but still offer the same amount of foods people love at the same cost.

DrSN: How much space could the new packaging save retailers, and what will that mean for planogramming in the aisle?

Ferro: One of the key metrics we will be evaluating as part of the test of this new, space-saving cereal box is feedback from our retailers. We’re really looking to our retail partners to provide us with their insights as to how this space-saving cereal box could help them better meet the needs of consumers.

DrSN: Is the new packaging more environmentally friendly?

Ferro: We’ve optimized the cereal box configuration to reduce the package size without decreasing the amount of food. By decreasing the amount of air in the interior bag, we were able to reduce the package size. … Our primary metrics for evaluating this new, space-saving cereal box are consumer acceptance, retailer feedback and anticipated internal efficiencies.

DrSN: Where are you testing the new products, and when might retailers see national rollout? Will it affect all cereal brands?

Ferro: We are currently testing the new, space-saving cereal box for all of our cereal SKUs at select Detroit Walmart and Kroger stores. At this time, I cannot speculate on plans beyond the test of the space-saving cereal box.

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Obama may overturn Bush’s ‘conscience’ rules

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The Obama Administration may overturn the Bush Administration’s “conscience” rules that allow healthcare workers to invoke religious beliefs to deny certain services such as birth control, according to published reports.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Barack Obama may roll back the provisions, which allow pharmacists to refuse to prescribe birth control pills on account of personal religious beliefs. 

Seven states have also filed lawsuits to challenge the rule, the newspaper reported.

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Clear up patient medication guidelines, independent pharmacy group urges FDA

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association wants the government to give patients a clearer, more concise set of guidelines on how to take their medications, the effects those drugs have and the risks and benefits they carry.

The independent pharmacy organization yesterday urged the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee to push for a change in the current system of overlapping instructions that go to patients along with their prescriptions. In testimony before the committee, NCPA asked the agency to develop criteria for a guidance that would describe “a single, patient-friendly, written prescription information sheet to eventually replace the multiple written documents that patients can currently receive from their pharmacists with a particular prescription.

Under current practices, those documents can include  Medication Guides, Patient Package Inserts [PPIs] and Consumer Medication Information [CMI]. Too often, said NCPA’s director of public policy, Tony Lee, patients discard the CMI and never read it — sometimes even throwing it away before they leave the pharmacy.

“While we recognize that the FDA has worked hard to try and improve these medication documents, the problem needs to be addressed in a fundamentally different way that combines useful written information with the personal relationships between the pharmacists and patients,” Lee told the FDA advisory panel.

“It is time for a comprehensive solution to this written prescription information issue,” added John Coster, NCPA’s senior VP of government affairs. “Any FDA effort to make CMI more useful for the patient should be accompanied by a broader assessment of the usefulness and purpose of the other information leaflets that pharmacist may be required to provide. We look forward to working with the agency and patient groups to meet this goal.”

Last summer, NCPA joined other pharmacy provider groups to file a “One Document” citizens’ petition with the FDA. The Risk Advisory Committee was convened specifically to address how to make CMI leaflets more useful for the patient, the group noted.

“These leaflets are voluntarily provided by the pharmacist, but the information contained in these leaflets often duplicates information in other written leaflets,” NCPA stated.

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