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Is this new packaging taking the biscuit?

McVitie's biscuits

Packaging can be a key ingredient in influencing what we buy. But as our guest author and community member Roger Pittock explains, some packaging redesigns can really take the biscuit.

Have you noticed a detrimental change to how McVitie’s Biscuits are wrapped of late?

It was only after two packs fell from my cupboard within a few weeks of one another (whereas none had in the previous 20 years) that I realised the packaging had changed. And from a consumer perspective I think it’s for the worse.

Poor packaging

Cheddar biscuits

Old heat-staked packaging

Historically McVitie’s Digestives (and countless other biscuits by several manufacturers) have been sold in cylindrical packaging, with the ends neatly and tautly dressed and glued (or heat-staked) down.

This time-honoured approach provides for easy storage on end without fear of an accidental topple. It also allows for an easy opening with a knife cut laterally between biscuits, either half way down or a couple from one end.

About six months ago, McVitie’s biscuits appeared on the shelves with slack packaging and ends squeezed together in a crimp. They call it Flow Wrap Packaging.

That’s a bad wrap

Flow wrap biscuits

New Flow Wrap packaging

Ignoring the cost of new machinery, this new method probably saves money or time. However, I wonder how much additional breakage this style of packaging creates in the home due to toppling, and how much additional frustration is incurred in opening the biscuits?

I’ve found that it’s no longer safe to stand these on end as the crimp has a habit of springing to life even after flattening, precipitating a topple.

Furthermore, using a knife to open the biscuits no longer readily produces a clean cut. This new style wrap is no longer taut and the plastic cylindrical sleeve indents, caressing the blade and making it substantially more difficult to produce a clean cut.

After a brief check on shelves I spotted that some own brands (Tesco is one) have also adopted this clumsy packaging method too. Whereas others (Sainsbury’s) and other major brands (Jacobs) maintain the traditional packaging, which I find far more accessible.

So, I would like to know if anyone else experienced these issues; have you spotted any packaging changes, or difficult to open packages?

This is a guest contribution by Roger Pittock. All opinions are Roger’s own, not necessarily those of Which?