Powerful visuals on a strawberry box

Top-quality print on Metsä Board kraftliner makes new strawberry box the pick of the crop

When a Finnish packaging design agency came up with a striking new idea for a premium corrugated box for fresh strawberries, picking the right combination of technical kraftliner and repro expertise was essential. Close collaboration between Metsä Board, the design agency, the converter and the printer produced a unique corrugated strawberry box with a premium look using a printing technique that reduces both material waste and ink consumption. 

Walk around any town in Finland during the summer and it’s hard to miss the bustling market squares packed with eager shoppers looking for top-quality produce and enthusiastic stallholders selling their wares. In Finland, berries of all kinds are top of most people’s shopping lists and are typically seen on market stalls packed loose in sturdy corrugated boxes.  
“The design agency wanted to create a sustainable box with a premium look, which meant print quality would be critical. The idea was to design a package where the liner could be printed with bright colours on a dark black background, which set some demanding challenges for the topliner,” says Ilkka Harju, Packaging Services Director, EMEA at Metsä Board. 

Black is the new blue and white 

In Finland, corrugated strawberry boxes commonly come in designs that heavily feature blue and white, reminiscent of the Finnish flag. This would be the first time that a berry box had been designed with a deep black background, which meant tackling the problem of ‘washboarding’ – the undesired appearance of a wavy pattern coinciding with the flute tips on the surface of the board. “We gathered all the stakeholders together at a workshop in our Äänekoski Excellence Centre to identify how to move forward with the design,” Ilkka says.  

The workshop brought together the design agency, the converter DS Smith, the repro company Marvaco Ltd. and the Metsä Board packaging design services team. Based on their technical, packaging design and R&D expertise, Metsä Board identified MetsäBoard Pro WKL – a strong, light double-coated white-top kraftliner – as the optimal choice for the new box design. 

“The design of the packaging didn’t use the vector graphics that are commonly used in strawberry boxes; instead a photo-based multicolour print was printed on the corrugated board. This process was extremely demanding, and required a high-quality coated white kraftliner,” points out Ville Laiho from the packaging producer, DS Smith. 

Teamwork helps to deliver the goods  

“Having the converter and repro company on board from the start was a huge advantage because we could discuss ideas and potential challenges, and fine tune everything together instead of taking up time with long email exchanges and phone calls,” highlights Ilkka. “Our focus was on the linerboard properties and identifying the right product and grammage for the application. We also created a virtual model of the box design to bring it to life and demonstrate what the end result would look like.” 

The box was printed using process colour and full HD flexo printing technology, which allowed the designers to push the boundaries and successfully execute the new concept.  

“The combination of the topliner and state-of-the-art prepress and printing tools enables strong, smooth solids to be combined with extremely sharp details, creating a very impressive end result,” says Kai Lankinen, Executive Partner, Marvaco Ltd. “The design is eye-catching but also eco-efficient because the HD printing technology minimises the use of special colours and reduces both material waste and ink consumption. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and brings together top-quality materials, excellent colour separation and superior print quality to create something truly unique.”