There's bags of enlightenment Consumers have long been demanding that packaging becomes more user friendly, and manufacturers and retailers now appear to be going some way to meet those wishes. The Co-op is setting the pace with newly introduced Braille on own label medicine packaging to help the UK's blind and partially sighted people (who number more than a million) to distinguish correctly and safely between cartons at home. Until now Braille has only been available on bleach bottles because of the technical difficulties of applying it to other types of packaging. The Co-op and its suppliers overcame these by developing two different techniques for cartons and labels. The Braille packs which include analgesic cartons, vitamin labels, cough mixture labels and plaster cartons, are being rolled out in all the Co-op's stores and pharmacies. International brand design consultancy Designbridge says manufacturers are increasingly looking at ways to make packaging more ergonomic or appropriate to consumer needs. "We've done a lot of work on this in all areas of grocery in the last two years, " says principal consultant Peter Kay. "There's a body of enlightened brand owners who see it as important, but at the same time there's a lot who see packaging merely as a cost to be reduced." He cites as good examples Elida Fabergé's Physio sports toiletries range, designed with the input of leading athletes and which includes rubberised, non-slip finishes and anti-spill locking devices, plus Silver Spoon's rigid cardboard sugar container with reclosable flip top lid which provides storage, extended shelf life and greater convenience. The ultimate in convenience packaging has to be from RHP Packaging's Alpamer system that enables counter staff to create an hermetically sealed bag of variable size for fresh fish, meat or deli items. The four layer laminate for fish keeps the contents cool for two hours in room temperature and prevents sticking to the inside even when frozen. After a year's trial, Sainsbury is rolling out the system, Asda has it in 120 stores, and Safeway will introduce it soon. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}