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Johnston & Jeff, based in Gilberdyke in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is one of the UK’s leading bird food suppliers. Founded in 1880, the brand has a rich heritage, with the current MD, Richard Johnston, the great-grandson of the original founder. The ethos of the company remains the same today as it did then: quality is absolute.

In its origins, the emphasis was on quality of produce off the field. Now the firm replicates quality in the ingredients it sources and throughout its production processes.

Its food blends are developed to provide the right level of nutrients, offering richness and variety, with much of its food being of human grade. Johnston & Jeff doesn’t use additives or cheap fillers, with the high level of quality meaning it doesn’t necessarily appeal to the mass market.

There is also science behind its offering. The expertise at Johnston & Jeff stems back generations. The family is serious about birds and is concerned with their conservation, welfare, needs and care.

This extensive commitment to quality extends to the product packaging.

Johnston & Jeff has been working with Tyler Packaging for a number of years, with the packaging firm catering for all its flexible packaging needs. Recently, Johnston & Jeff acquired a packing machine that has enabled it to utilise pouches. The process for this would see Tyler supply the ready-made pouches which Johnston & Jeff could then fill with product using their pouch machine to seal; ready for dispatch.

Currently, the majority of the bird food’s flexible packaging is in form, fill and seal bags, which are suitable for the purpose at hand, but Johnston & Jeff wanted to use pouches to reflect the quality of specific products. In particular, suet pellets, a high energy food, and dried mealworms, high in both energy and protein, which provide birds with nutritional sustenance, catering for their specific needs.

A lot of bird feed mixes are treated as commodity items, but Johnston & Jeff takes the scientific approach, using the firm’s extensive avian knowledge to generate proper mixes and products that provide birds with the right nutrients.

Chris Grange, Commercial Manager at Johnston & Jeff said: “The buying public appreciates the quality of our bird food. The priorities of those who are feeding birds go far beyond simply ‘putting something out’ for them. Many of our customers consider the wild birds coming to their garden as ‘their birds’, and regard them as pets. So, like any responsible pet owner, they really do want the best for them by considering proper nutrition and seasonally-appropriate feeding.”

Dried meal worms and suet pellets have been available from Johnston & Jeff for some time, so they’re not a new offering. But the new pouch packaging helps to differentiate them from other products, marking them as premium bird feed.

Chris said: “Although the product contained within the packaging isn’t new in itself, we wanted to emphasise the quality of it. We wanted to set it apart from the rest of our product range and to make it stand out. The content within goes above and beyond, so we wanted the packaging to do the same.”

The new pouches go further than Johnston & Jeff’s previous packaging, with resealable closures helping to keep the food fresher for longer, sealing in the nutrients. During the design process, Johnston & Jeff engaged with Adam Kay, Tyler Packaging’s Sales and Technical Director, who was able to advise the firm on the packaging most suitable for them.

Adam advised them on different closures for different needs, with some incorporating a standard zip seal, whilst some variations use the hook and loop seal of Easy-Lock by APLIX. A Euroslot was also included for clip strip hanging when on display in stores. The products are also available in different weights, with mealworms, being very light, offered in weights of 100g and 500g. The heavier suet pellets are sold in 1kg and 3kg packs.

Whilst the pouch format was new, the packaging retained the traditional elements of the Johnston & Jeff brand, including the typeface and the incorporation of the logo. The added space on the base of the pouches though, allowed for the inclusion of social media details as well as a QR code – reflecting the modern developments of the firm.

The packaging is currently in the process of being launched in stores, primarily pet shops, country stores, agricultural stores and garden centres, but the initial packaging prototype was ready for PATS in March, which is the main pet trade event in the UK.

Chris said: “The new pouch packaging was very much our headline act at PATS. Tyler had worked to a very short deadline to get it ready for us in time. It was really well received though and we’re looking forward to continued good feedback as it undergoes its consumer launch.”

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