Passion for Packaging Innovation

Importance of sensory appeal; Angie’s Kettle Corn matte finish bag

We had covered the Sun Chips compostable chip package on April 25, 2010. You can find the review here and its advertisement here. One of the areas of interest with that package was its matte finish, which we had praised.

There are a number of packages with even more matte finishes arriving in the marketplace, typically packing chips or popcorn. We picked a package of Angie’s Kettle Corn and ran our analysis.

Initial Impressions

While the reduction in the glossiness of the packaging material is welcome, the print quality appears to have taken a hit, which is rather evident in the picture above. We could not tell whether this was due to the change in the finish, typically accomplished with a finishing roll in material processing, or due to a change in the plastics used. Regardless, the printing quality needs improvement.

The point-of-purchase (POP) attractiveness of the package is high, with the caveat that matte finishes are more associated with foods generally touting health benefits and wholesomeness, i.e., milk or eggs. (See our egg-crate death-match article.)

Package Usability

Interestingly, our initial attempt to open the package failed, since we tried to open it without using its notch. The newer materials used in this package have a heavier reliance on a notch to start a tear, as the top, bottom, and longitudinal seal areas are practically bulletproof. As a result, other techniques of opening seem to fail.

This, in effect, makes the package more difficult to open in respect to more traditional packages, as it has only one way of opening. As a result, options for aging and reduced dexterity populations are limited. The tiny notch is also not very visible, which creates an additional barrier for people with reduced visual acuity.

Additionally, the opening of the package resulted in uncontrolled tearing, which ran farther than expected. Subsequently, it was difficult to prevent the pop corn from spilling out of the package.


Efficiency Star
Effectiveness Star
Attractiveness Star


The trade-off we see here between finish and usability is unacceptable from our perspective. Despite our clear support for having matte finishes in certain categories, the negative impact on package usability and functionality is simply unacceptable.

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