In a first for the food and beverage industry, Nestlé Australia will redesign the packaging of some of its products to make them easier to open for people affected by arthritis and the ageing population.
The decision follows the development of a world first: the Accessibility Benchmarking Scale, initiated by Nestlé and Arthritis Australia to help manufacturers design packaging that’s more accessible to people living with the debilitating condition.
Arthritis Australia predicts that seven million Australians will suffer from arthritis by 2050. Nearly four million already live with the disease and half of those are of working age. Australia’s population is also ageing, with projections that 14.6 million, or 44 per cent, will be over 50 by the middle of this century.
The Scale, which was designed in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, USA, will allow packaging designers to predict the percentage of the population – whether living with arthritis or otherwise – who will be able to easily open and use their packaging.
The development of the Scale was the result of a pilot study by Arthritis Australia and Nestlé in which five of the food manufacturer’s most popular products were assessed by the Institute– one of the world’s leading research universities.
To help understand the impact of arthritis, the packaging team from Nestlé used a special pair of gloves designed by the Institute that simulate the way the disease restricts movement and strength. The gloves helped the Nestlé team appreciate how difficult it is for people living with arthritis to carry out simple everyday tasks.
“Using the gloves really gave us an insight on how we can improve our packaging so that everyone can open our products more easily,” said Ms Jacky Nordsvan, Packaging Specialist at Nestlé Australia.
“Nestlé is committed to assessing our packaging and redesigning those products which pose a challenge to people with limited hand movement.
“Consumers want packaging that is easy to open and products that are easy to use, but the challenge for manufacturers up to now has been to determine how well their packaging is performing. The Scale challenges their perceptions,” he said.
“The Scale will provide a good outcome for consumers, and for concerned companies.”
As a result of consumer feedback Nestlé has redesigned its Nescafé Gold Blend coffee jar to make it easier to open. The company said it would also be looking at the packaging of some of the products across its Allen’s, Maggi, Peters Ice Cream and cereal ranges over the next year.