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Published: 1/31/2013

Walt Churchill’s Markets are 1st arena for new Owens-Illinois containers

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Owens-Illinois is testing its new VersaFlip jar, which is making its world debut in Walt Churchill's Markets. It holds Churchill's special recipe Salsa Rustica, a Tuscan-style dipping sauce. Owens-Illinois is testing its new VersaFlip jar, which is making its world debut in Walt Churchill's Markets. It holds Churchill's special recipe Salsa Rustica, a Tuscan-style dipping sauce.
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Fresh off the success of last year’s “jar with a spout” to make pouring easier, Owens-Illinois Inc. has launched a jar this month that can flip or tip when you dip a chip.

The new VersaFlip jar, the third product in O-I’s innovative Versa line of products, is designed primarily to hold salsa but is capable of holding other products.

The jar design made its debut two weeks ago — just in time for people planning Super Bowl parties — at Walt Churchill’s Markets in Perrysburg and Maumee, where it serves as packaging for the grocer’s Salsa Rustica product.

O-I plans to gather feedback from the store and from consumers who purchase the salsa. After several months of testing it will decide whether to expand use of the container.

“We’re on a project with them, and they’re using us for market studies,” Mr. Churchill said. “It’s really fun to work with them.”

Last May, O-I used Mr. Churchill’s supermarkets to test its VersaFlow jar, which has a pouring spout that makes it easier to pour tomato and other sauces. The jar’s design proved so successful that in October the Perrysburg-based glass packaging manufacturer launched a smaller version of the VersaFlow jar for sauces and condiments.

The VersaFlip jar has a wide-mouth opening, and the lower half of the jar has angled, flat sides so that it can be “tipped” on its side and the contents of the jar accessed.

The firm claims its new “tip and dip” feature makes dipping a chip or cracker into the jar easy and eliminates the need to pour the salsa or dip into a bowl.

“It’s a jar designed that you can sit it on a table and when you first open it, you can just dip into it, and then you can tip it and keep it in the tipped position and it’s easier to reach into, Mr. Churchill said. “We’ve tried it, and we’ve had some good luck with it.”

For now, Churchill’s is just using the jar for salsa, but Mr. Churchill said the jar could be used for other types of sauces and dips, and could be reused to hold a variety of products, such as baking ingredients, once a consumer had used up the original product.

“This is a unique jar, so we’re very interested in it. … It has a very nice appeal,” Mr. Churchill said.

O-I said its relationship with the local retailer benefits both parties.

“Working with a local retail partner, such as Walt Churchill’s Markets, lets us gather insights about the product directly from people who have tried it,” Saga Shoffner, O-I’s vice president of global marketing, said in a statement.

Stephanie Johnston, an O-I spokesman, said the firm likes to test its products “in our backyard because we can get reaction from friends, family, and neighbors in real time.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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