Design Adventures at PLMA 2016 Amsterdam

June 16, 2016

I’ve recently returned from PLMA 2016 in Amsterdam, the world’s largest private-label trade show, where companies from 110 countries gathered to exhibit. Manufacturers and suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods displayed and sampled fresh, frozen and refrigerated foods and beverages.

Let’s get straight to the point of my visit – to check out what’s hot in the branding and product development area. As always I visited the ‘Idea Supermarket’ which showcases PLMA’s selection of the best and most innovative examples of what supermarkets, hypermarkets, and retailers of all types are doing with their own brands.


Idea Supermarket Highlights….


‘Your Coffee’, a chilled Latte Macchiato brand; not the only one featured at the show. Designed to be enjoyed hot or cold in various flavours, it follows in the footsteps of Starbucks, who launched their Latte Macchiato in January this year. This brand is taking a brave step with a new packaging design look for this category. Fresh and contemporary colours and fonts with iconic stylised illustrations will help it stand apart from its competition on the shelf. There are a lot of companies following this matte colour coding trend, but it seems set to continue.



An alternative food, ‘Crisp and Krock’ showcases a healthy tomato crisp snack. This was featured in the NPD section of the Idea Supermarket. Unfortunately the samples were behind glass so I can’t report on flavour….However, the packaging I find very successful thanks to the use of a simple colour palette of three colours which helps give it a strong presence, organic/loose style artwork which gives it a natural feel, and finally the current and trendy font. 


Exploring the show revealed more exciting designs:



This package Design from Swift Cuisine caught my eye immediately. A great product of course (yes, I had a hot sample!) but the package has been carefully and simply designed – simple in the sense that it’s free from clutter and has the essentials for a premium brand. It looks clean and simple. But paring a design back to the absolute essentials is often quite a challenge. This is proof that it can work out really well. The key to success here is that the simple palette is represented by very high standard. Excellent photography, considered and complementary contemporary fonts, a limited colour palette, and all brought together by thoughtful printing. The ‘Swift Cuisine’ type is raised and has a wet-ink effect. Sitting against the matte background it emanates high quality. 




Tea of Life…what can I say! When I came across this brand it blew me away. As it turned out it made its debut reveal at PLMA 2016 following an overhaul of the brand. The product itself represents many of the sought-after high-end brand associations such as Fairtrade, sustainability, pure and honest ingredients.


Enclosing this great product is an eye-catching and well-thought-out box. From a practical viewpoint the box can be opened and used in two optional formats, vertical or horizontal. This is one of those things that make you think: it’s not necessary, but it’s a luxury and it shows that the creator actually cares about me, ‘the end user’. After all, tea is something we reach for when we want to relax and be kind to ourselves. And this package just makes a body feel good.


Again, the trend continues where different colours represent different flavours. But what I’d like to point out is that the logo remains dominant on the artwork – the brand is the number one item on display on the front of the box. The brand or logo is too often lost amid a sea of descriptions and clutter. Also the use of colour is not overpowering the logo…all in all, this packaging gives positive vibes and hits dizzy heights of success in my opinion.



Cremor Irish Cream Liqueur caught my eye. ‘The only cream liqueur that rises to the occasion’ the slogan says.  In fact it is the first Irish Cream that floats so that the white sits pretty on top of the dark under-layer. The branding on this product is intrinsically Irish. It echoes Guinness but adds femininity and is retrospective of something of a bygone era. The bottle shape has a retro feel and is speaking the language of craft beer and all things trendy. Although I didn’t get a taste…I’m looking forward to seeing it behind the bar very soon.


Many companies from around the world continue to learn and see that their packaging is so critical to branding food - even those in the area of private label. The packaging is the first thing a consumer will see, the first opportunity for a company to tell their story and explain why their product is so great or is good for you, and so on. 

What’s more, companies are learning that convenience in their packaging also plays an important role in branding food.  People want to have easy access into and out of the package, along with resealability for continued freshness.  Retailers want a variety of ways to merchandise and display different products too. Taking all elements into consideration requires thinking on multiple levels and a lot of creativity - luckily something I have in bucket-loads!


Thanks for reading; feel free to add your comments - or better yet, share some exciting designs you have seen on your travels!


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