So much for your habit of ripping open packaging to get a sneaky sniff.
Credit: Courtesy of Tekni-Plex

When buying produce, shoppers have plenty of ways to evaluate quality. There’s the good ol’ eye test, the tactile squeeze test, the sniff test, and in the case of something like grapes, even the taste test. But packaged goods are a whole different story: Often something as simple as the eye test is only just looking at a photo on a box… and good luck getting a whiff of the contents without tearing the whole package apart. But a company called Tekni-Plex has unveiled its solution to that problem: Sniff Seal—a permeable seal that lets scents come out without affecting the quality inside.

Billing the technology as perfect for all sorts of items—“including food, beverage, personal care, cosmetics”—Sniff Seal is also pitched as a win-win-win for customers, manufacturers, and store owners. Obviously, shoppers get an “enhanced consumer sensory experience” by being able to formulate an olfactory opinion. Plus, the brand is able to “create product differentiation” by offering this still unique experience, Tekni Plex explains. However, Sniff Seal can also make life easier for shop owners too.

“It was a packaging challenge that was begging for a solution,” Brian Jacobi, vice president and general manager, North America at Tri-Seal, a Tekni-Plex business, told us via email. “When consumers shop, there is a natural curiosity to experience the scent or be given ‘evidence’ of freshness by through a distinctive aroma. Shoppers have been known to puncture or peel back a seal in the retail aisle to experience that before purchasing. It becomes problematic when a destroyed seal is put back on a shelf and the product can no longer be sold. Sniff Seal solves that issue.”

Still, most of us aren’t producing or selling things like coffee, tea, or grated cheese: We’re shopping for them. And from a consumer perspective, that’s what makes the idea of Sniff Seal so intriguing. “Imagine being able to experience the smell of fresh peanut butter or mango-scented shampoo or spring-fresh deodorant in a retail aisle without removing a seal or a fitment?” David Andrulonis, senior vice president and general manager for Tekni-Plex’s Tri-Seal business unit, said in a statement. An even better question is how have we been living without this technology before?!

Sniff Seal can’t be found on shelves, yet, but Tekni-Plex believes that will change soon. “Multiple, well-known brands are currently conducting internal testing,” Jacobi says. “We hope to be able to announce a commercialization soon.”