The peppy packaging of posh spices

Navigating modern retail, particularly if you are a seller, can be challenging, to say the least


How do you communicate the anatomy of black gold? An extra bold Tellicherry peppercorn, considered the finest in the world, grown on India’s Malabar Coast, its berries left to ripen on the vine longer to bring out its rich flavour. It makes that full-bodied journey from the vine to your kitchen table in a little glass bottle.

Navigating modern retail, particularly if you are a seller, can be challenging, to say the least. More so when a small pack of spices must communicate the uniqueness of its contents while jostling for space on a crowded supermarket shelf. That’s why Synthite Industries Ltd, one of the largest spice extract firms in the world, decided to use a unique packaging design to communicate the exclusivity of its products.

Synthite, traditionally a manufacturer of oleoresin (a spice extract), decided to launch its consumer products two years ago. Its range called Sprig was conceived as value-added gourmet products retailing at high-end stores.

“The challenge was clear, the product had to stand out on shelves not just in India but across the world. We did that by creating high-end packaging for Sprig to communicate the origins of its contents,” said Vinod Kunj, managing partner, Thought Blurb, a design firm. So, for instance, the ceramic-glass grinder bottle for the Tellicherry pepper comes with a little tag attached to it which tells the consumers about the product’s origins.

Also, the company adopted the practice of packaging spices such as vanilla beans from Madagascar, whole green cardamom from Idukki, true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, Golden Matcha green tea among others in aluminum canisters à la cigar cylinders. Besides retaining the freshness of the spices, these sleek containers ensure that the product stand out. “The canisters are durable and opaque, therefore are ideal to store the light and moisture sensitive spices,” said Kunj.

The packaging enables the brand to draw on elements from different cultures. For instance, its Japanese-style green tea powder Golden Matcha comes with a traditional, handcrafted Cha-shaku, a slim bamboo spoon that perfectly proportions each serving, reminiscent of the Japanese tea ceremony. The spoon and canister are upright in a blister pack; the small text at the back informs consumers that the green tea has been grown in shade like the original Japanese kind, besides providing instructions on its preparation.

For the range of squeezable packs of cooking pastes, the design firm had to create a unified look for the family of products, where each was vastly different in its origins. The range comprises Mole—a Mexican spice paste; Nam Prik Pao—a roasted Thai chili paste; and Harissa—a North African chili paste. “We took inspiration from the local art, architecture and textiles to come up with designs for each pack. The Mole pack has brightly coloured geometric designs inspired by Mexican weaves, the Nam Prik Pao has bright colours and the form is inspired by Thai temple architecture; the design on the Harissa paste pack is inspired by the tribal art in the region,” said Kunj.

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