The JAN Veal Packaging –
a success story

VanDrie Group offers ready-to-use veal products to the highest quality and convenience. SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS performed a packaging solution for one of their brands called ‘JAN’.

Interview Jan

How did the JAN brand come about at VanDrie Group?  

Patricia van Krieken, Marketing Manager of Stitching Promotie Kalfsvlees: “We wanted to respond to a market trend and offer a ready-to-use veal product. There is a clear demand among consumers for pre-cooked products. The veal for our JAN brand has been cooked sous vide which means the buyers can prepare it easily. It’s what we would call a ‘convenience product’.

In addition to that, we also wanted to create a hamburger line. We didn’t want to do this under a private label from a manufacturer but really wanted our own brand. So, I wrote a pitch for a few advertising agencies and here it is, the story of JAN.”

What was the reason not to have this new product range run via a private label?

Patricia van Krieken: “Because the VanDrie Group has the correct quality arguments (integrated supply chain, food safety, great animal welfare and health) to put these products on the shelf with our own brand. A private label would have been easier, but we specifically looked at the market needs and how we could position those needs under a VanDrie Group brand. We decided that JAN should be a separate brand and shouldn’t feature the corporate identity of the VanDrie Group.

Bearing this in mind, we felt that we had to develop packaging material that should tempt consumers without showing the actual dish on the package.”

Why did you choose not to place a food image on the package?

Patricia van Krieken: “Simply because a lot of packaging materials already show dishes and you either like that dish or you don’t. If you don’t like the dish, the image may not be attractive at all, which makes it hard to stand out with a dish or product image.

Therefore, we either wanted something unique or we had to try and develop something that would stand out on the shelf and would invite consumers to take a closer look. That’s why we wanted to design a closed box at first. After the advertising agency’s briefing we approached SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS to design such a box, which was tested on the shelf exclusively at one of our customer’s sites. It appeared however that consumers would open the cover to see what was inside the box, mainly because they were not familiar with the concept of sous vide cooked veal.”

So, the completely closed box was not the right solution?

Patricia van Krieken: “No, it wasn’t. Consumers who were interested in the product, couldn’t see what they were buying and were therefore less inclined to really buy it. Therefore, we approached SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS again to see how we could present our product more effectively, and still comply with the statutory quality requirements. These dictate that packaging for food must be closed, which made us wonder how to make the adjustments. SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS then suggested to add an extra flap to the cover of the box which would contain the right information for the consumer. This gave us the option to tell the simple yet cool story of JAN. In addition, the cover now includes a window through which the consumer can see the product. The sides of the box will be sealed using stickers to ensure we have a properly closed package. If someone takes out the inner package, they have to tear the box apart and this means we can always tell if a box was opened.”

What was especially important to you when you designed the new JAN packaging?

Patricia van Krieken: “We wanted the box to be light as this gives a more open experience. We didn’t want to follow the current trends with black and wooden prints. Instead, we thought it would be important to have our own identity.”

How do you pack the veal in the JAN packaging?

Patricia van Krieken: “At first, we opted for a ready box as we didn’t want production techniques to dictate our needs. We were however faced with a few obstacles: we didn’t have enough storage space and ready boxes also use more space during transport. So, we rejected that idea and then opted to develop a box that can be supplied plano.

A JAN package contains three vacuum sealed products. Additionally, we also wanted to pack smaller quantities and opted to also develop a smaller packaging variant (one piece). This is a small square box that can be put on the shelf at the retailer’s. Eventually, we also wanted a third variant: a closed package with a bottom and a cover to pack frozen hamburgers.”

Were there extra points during the design phase that had to be taken into account?

Patricia van Krieken: “From 2016 onwards, we conducted several tests in cooperation with SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS to improve the package and we now have a box that completely fits with the product it contains. One of the challenges we faced was how to seal the sides of the box. The product hit the sides numerous times during transport or because various people (such as employees or consumers) held the box, which caused the sides to start bloating. SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS then performed some tests with small tabs on the sides of the box. These strengthened tabs ensure that the package may hold sufficient weight without shifting the product.”

Why did you choose SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS as a development partner and what were the most important benefits of your tight cooperation?

Patricia van Krieken: “We thought it was especially important that SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS had 3 knowledgeable people who knew, in their own field of expertise, how to further develop the brand and the look and feel based on the discussions we had with our advertising agency. This differs completely from a standard procedure to request a cutting knife design or the production of standard packaging material. We are extremely happy with the way SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS handles these, yet for the JAN package we developed the whole concept from the very beginning and also considered the pros and cons regarding the look and feel of the brand and the packaging. It is great to discuss these things with people from SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS who are experts on board and packaging designs and are more than willing to share their knowledge.”

Jan Huls, Sales Manager of SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS: “It was really helpful that SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS was invited to help with the design so early during the process. We had a lot of meetings with VanDrie and the advertising agency during which we could share our packaging expertise. During these meetings we always had the development of the JAN concept in mind, for an improved production process both for the client and ourselves.

Patricia van Krieken: “It is really exceptional to enter such a collaboration process and see the final result. It is great that we have been able to design one concept that can be used for various markets and products.”

Why did you choose to pack the products in solid board?

Patricia van Krieken: “We also work with another supplier who provides us with packaging material made of folding board. We could have consulted this other supplier for the JAN packaging, but we were confident that our collaboration with SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS would be fruitful. Their solid board has the required strength and the company has lots of experience in producing special packaging material for meat products in cold rooms and freezer rooms. Our product does suffer a bit during the whole transporting process, and we feel it is very important that the packaging material supports the product. And solid board does exactly that. Our choice for solid board was therefore a conscious one.

Why did you choose this special type of packaging and how does it support in the selling process of your product?

Patricia van Krieken: “We aimed for packaging that is different from the usual box with an image of a tasty dish. We also chose not to use an image as we supply to different cultures: for example, Italians may eat a hamburger as a snack while the Dutch eat it for supper. Therefore, we also had to use different languages and translations, as we wanted to tell our customers the story of JAN in different languages and in an appropriate manner. We decided to tell this story during the pre-buying process, thus avoiding the fact that the consumer would find the story after opening the box. This explains why the flap is such a wonderful solution to show the information in the correct language.

In addition, we opted to put stickers on the boxes to show which product (e.g. spareribs, goulash, veal cheeks) is in the box. This means we don’t have to develop a specific print for each and every product.”

Jan Huls: “This packaging is actually one concept that can be used for multiple products, which enables us to create large runs in our own production schedules.”

Patricia van Krieken: “This is also of great benefit to us, as we could not predict the exact quantities of a product sold in a specific country. Since the packaging is just one concept that we can adjust ourselves using product stickers, we can respond to a situation a lot faster. SOLIDUS SOLUTIONS even created a special cut-out in the box’s design which will enable us to outline the sticker perfectly during a manual process. Plus, the sticker will be clearly visible for the client when the product is on the shelf.”

How did the name JAN come about?

Patricia van Krieken: “Jan van Drie sr. is the founder of our company and founded the VanDrie Group in 1963. Meanwhile there are three generations that are all called Jan: one of the sons and also one of the grandsons is called Jan. It is a typical Dutch name that shows the power of a typical Dutch product.”

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