Case study – SPC ProVital

SPC ProVital easy-open cup range was a world-first packaging innovation and has been recognised globally by the packaging industry as an accessible food packaging solution. The easy-to-open pull tab design was developed in collaboration with Arthritis Australia’s Accessible Design Division, their researcher Dr Brad Fain from GTRI and HealthShare NSW. The Division assisted SPC with understanding the needs and abilities of the arthritis community, such as through the packaging accessibility guidelines, as well as through ongoing testing and support during the development process. The project resulted in an award winning design, which meets the needs and abilities of Australian consumers.

SPC ProVital design

The need for accessible packaging innovation

Making packaging accessible to consumers contributes to their nutrition, independence and well-being. Packaging that is hard-to-open presents a number of barriers to all consumers, but particularly those with a disability and the ageing population, who experience issues with reduced dexterity and strength. Packaging that is hard-to-open can also result in unnecessary waste and injury when consumers can’t easily open the product and decide to use a tool, like a knife or scissors, to hack at the product. Consumers may spill the product during such attempts or be force to throw the product out unopened if these attempts are unsuccessful.

“Packaging accessibility has been identified as a key issue contributing to rates of poor patient nutrition within hospitals in Australia, where it is estimated that up to 40 percent of patients experience some form of malnourishment.”

PKN Packaging News June 2016 

“It is essential that packaging of food served in hospital is easier for patients to open in order to support their nutrition outcomes…Easy open packaging not only contributes to improved nutrition in hospitals, but it also allows our most vulnerable patients to retain their independence and dignity by easily accessing their own food.”

Executive Director, Clinical Support Services at HealthShare NSW, Carmen Rechbauer
Australian Food News, May 2018 

“The issue of packaging accessibility is becoming more and more prominent in our society as the population ages.”

SPC Category Marketing Manager ProVital, Chris Deed
Australian Food News, May 2018


Understanding the packaging format from an accessibility perspective

The hard-to-open problem:

The single-serve fruit cup format had problems with the traditional tab design. Consumers firstly had difficulty with separating the tab from the cup and then they would struggle to grip the tab, due to its small size and lack of texture. If consumers are unable to access and grip the tab, then they are unable to open and enjoy the product inside.

The easy-to-open solution:

The SPC ProVital packaging range was specifically designed to be easy-to-open and was developed in collaboration with Arthritis Australia, Dr Brad Fain and HealthShare NSW. The SPC design considered the abilities of consumers including those with reduced dexterity, strength and poor vision. The need to improve packaging accessibility is in response to factors such as Australia’s ageing population as well as the need to reduce food wastage in hospitals and remove a barrier to nutrition in healthcare.


The new innovative packaging design overcomes these barriers with a range of features, including:

  • Clearly visible opening method
  • Large overhanging tab that is textured for consumers to easily grip
  • Low opening peel force of below 13N
  • Large and legible labelling including best before date and ingredient list

The design was tested with arthritis consumers and received positive feedback including:

  • “When you see the tab you know what to do”
  • “It’s very self-explanatory”
  • “That was very easy – the size of the tab made it easy”
  • “I like the textured tab – it didn’t slip – it was very easy”

Business growth from accessibility innovation 

The SPC ProVital range is Easy to Open certified

SPC’s innovative design was highly praised and received multiple awards from the packaging industry. The design and Easy to Open Certification also allowed SPC to grow their SPC ProVital sales in the healthcare industry as the design was seen as taking leadership in the accessibility of foodservice packaging.

“SPC Category Marketing Manager ProVital, Chris Deed says his team are “particularly proud of this innovation as it represents how industry, suppliers and corporate collaboration can result in increased efficiency for our customers – a growth platform for SPC as a business”. SPC ProVital products are currently available through hospitals and aged care facilities, with further plans for expansion.”

SPC Category Marketing Manager ProVital, Chris Deed
Australian Food News, May 2018


2016 Save Food Packaging Awards – Winner – Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)

SPC received this award for reducing food wastage, as patients were more easily able to open and consume the contents due to the improve packaging, which also led to nutritional gains.

2018 WorldStar Packaging Award – Winner – World Packaging Organisation (WPO) 

“For us, having our range receive the highest possible accessibility rating from Arthritis Australia of +8, with 95% of the population reporting an easy-to-open product is one thing, but to be recognised by the WPO with an award of this stature, is something that makes the journey so worthwhile.”

SPC Category Marketing Manager ProVital, Chris Deed
Australian Food News, May 2018


Media articles

Read more about the project:

Australian ‘Easy-open cup’ range wins global award

Australia food News – Jack Chian
7 May 2018 

WorldStar Packaging Award for SPC ProVital easy-open cup

Food Technology & Manufacturing magazine
8 December 2017

Fruit cup helps save food through packaging

PKN Packaging News
June 2016

Packaging saving food in the spotlight

PKN Packaging News
June 2016