Passion for Packaging Innovation

Cup-o-jay single-serve frozen juice package concept

Cup-o-jay, designed by Ken Gruhl, a student at the Michigan State University, was the winner of the 2010 Flexible Packaging Student Design Challenge. We have taken a detailed look at this concept.

The novelty of this concept is not in the package format itself, as this type of package has been used with single serve yogurt packages and many other foods. Instead, the novelty lies in the application of this type of packaging to frozen juice.

This concept breaks down the portion size to 6 individual servings; normally, all 6 servings are sold in a single container. It incorporates an HDPE/Nylon tray and a foil top.

The current cylindrical design in the US for 6 serving frozen orange juice is made from fiber-board with tin end-caps. The new concept reduces material consumption to ~12 grams from the 30 grams required for the current design. It also improves on package distribution efficiency, package usability, and potentially, recyclability and landfill volume.

Target Segments

There are a multitude of potential target segments for this package, such as smaller households, singles, students, and households with younger children. The package can also prove useful in environments such as hospitals. It may also have unique applications in bars and restaurants, where frozen drinks are made to order from orange juice, lemon concentrate, etc.

The Design

The design is simple, effective, and playful. It provides a large branding surface on top. This larger canvas is also convenient for providing additional information such as nutritional facts, expiration date, instructions for storage, etc.

Top access commercial chest freezers would be the first choice for POP (point-of-purchase). For glass-door upright commercial freezers, branding would be difficult, unless the package is vertically oriented in the freezer, facing the front. The existing legacy package format is sold in both types of freezers.

Apart from the novel application to frozen foods, the concept itself is not new, and, as such, has limited attractiveness beyond its utility. The package is easy to associate with single serve yogurt multi-packs, and therefore may run into the issue of looking cheap if used beyond its original design intent. In comparison to the existing fiber-board frozen juice packages, however, the design is certainly more attractive.

From a sensory appeal perspective, the bottom tray has some room for refinement. For example, molding an orange peel pattern on the outside of the package would improve its sensory appeal. This would also help differentiate it from an ice-cube mold, especially considering that both items would be sitting in the consumer’s freezer side-by-side.

The package concept has design flexibility, especially for targeting children, as it can be easily adapted to a variety of shapes that appeal to children. Additionally, transparency is a big bonus for this package.


There are no visual cues provided as opening affordance to peel off the top foil.  While it is rather easy to add this to the graphic design, a clearly marked pull-tab should have already been been displayed on the concept.

The graphic design shows perforation, which should facilitate the separation of each serving.


The package is not reclosable, and does not need to be, given that it is a single serve package.


In order to have easy ejection of the frozen concentrate, the tray must retain its flexibility at freezer temperatures. When taken out of the freezer, the package will be slippery due to condensation, which will provide additional usability challenges.

Access should be simple once the top foil is removed. The semi-sphere design of the tray, with no undercuts and a progressively increasing draft angle, provides potential for easy ejection into a glass or pitcher.

Since we do not see any obvious opening affordance on top, there is potential for some users to attempt to puncture the foil instead of peeling it off. Naturally, this would complicate product access and reduce effectiveness and efficiency.

In order to ease ejection of the product from the tray, some users may attempt applying pressure to the bottom of the tray. The design can anticipate and accommodate this potential behavior by incorporating design elements that provide an area to press.

With respect to the existing legacy package format, this concept is significantly easier to open and allow access to the product.


The semi-spherical shape requires two handed opening and possesses a limited grip area. While this is not a problem for users with nominal dexterity, it can be for children and aging populations.

The semi-spherical shape and the smooth outer surface provide a limited grip which may result in the user dropping the tray. If a rougher texture is used on the outside of the tray, such as the orange-peel pattern recommended before, or even a simple rough texture, it could improve handling and increase package grip and in-hand stability.

With respect to the existing legacy package format, this package is significantly easier to handle.

Storing & Transporting

The concept is compact, appears robust and easily stackable, especially when frozen. However, the bottom of each serving would be pressing the center of the foil of the serving below when multi-packs are stacked. The contact area would be the weakest area of the bottom package, causing stress to concentrate on the foil, creating a potential for transportation damage. This potential would increase if the packages are under-filled or not completely frozen. Cardboard or corrugate dividers may be needed between packages, adding to the cost.

From a consumer perspective, transporting it home after purchase and storing it in a freezer is easy with this concept.


The package consumes less material than the current design. However, a fiber-board package is mostly made of renewable materials which can be recycled. This package concept, however, while being highly recyclable, has less renewability potential given the limited availability and higher cost of plant based plastics.


The concept offers some important advantages in the frozen juice category. It has potential to meet previously unmet needs in new consumption occasions and contexts of use. Given that there is potential for this concept to be used in areas ranging from kindergartens to hospitals or retirement homes, package usability is a key criteria for success.

The concept has added flexibility due to its scalability. The size of the multi-pack is not limited to 6 single servings, and versions of this concept with 4 or 8 servings can easily be developed and manufactured. Even a change in single serving size can be accomplished without any complications in the package design. This is a significant advantage over the current fiber-board package.

Usability scores in respect to fiber-board tube package:

Efficiency Star
Effectiveness Star
Attractiveness Star
Our Panel: Your Rating:
Opening Star
Accessing Star
Handling Star
Overall Star
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