Why It’s Better to Avoid Packaging Slack Fill from the Start

Chainalytics’ consultants help food manufacturer meet slack fill standards

Many products “settle” in their packages, appearing to take up much less space than they should. But settling isn’t the only issue with deceptive or “slack fill” packaging problems; these problems happen when manufacturers deliberately or inadvertently misrepresent the amount of product a consumer can “reasonably expect” when opening a package of tasty tidbits or expensive moisturizer.

For most consumers, this packaging “sleight-of-hand” is simply confusing, annoying or perhaps an inconvenience. Most ignore the slack fill problem.

But consumer watchdog groups and others actively enforce slack fill laws for products ranging from cosmetics to jelly beans–often on a state-by-state basis–to be sure the consumer is “getting what they paid for.” And without systematic slack fill planning or analysis, manufacturers may have to scramble in the face of hefty slack fill fines. 

This was the problem a North American food manufacturer recently faced, as it fell afoul of California slack fill laws. Since its business and product portfolio had grown significantly over the past few years, it wisely decided to “take the bull by the horns.” It turned to Chainalytics’ packaging experts to address the immediate slack fill issues and fines, and to develop a long-term strategy to standardize packaging across multiple products and product formats.


To root out potential slack fill risk, the Chainalytics’ packaging team collaborated with internal operations, packaging and equipment stakeholders. Chainalytics dimensional analysis on approximately 1,500 product SKUs and corresponding retail selling units (including primary packaging like bag-in-box formats) identified packaging
slack fill issues.

The team assessed a wide variety of packaging structures, including cartons, tubs, stand-up pouches, pillow pouches and peg bags; evaluated them against the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21; and ranked each SKU for high, medium and low slack fill risk.


Packages sold in California with opaque, rigid structures containing “free flowing” product were the immediate targets for packaging optimization and successful slack fill fine avoidance. In this case, Chainalytics advised making the offending high-risk package smaller, transparent or adding more product to the existing package size.

But the Chainalytics packaging team also uncovered additional high-risk slack fill SKUs that required further investigation. Chainalytics gathered detailed data and its package analysis ultimately helped the client identify potential packaging and operational savings opportunities ranging from $1.25 million to $1.6 million through optimized packaging materials, resized cases, improved pallet efficiency, and consolidated shipping boxes.

Along the way to slack fill eradication, the client also gained valuable insights and guidance: Chainalytics created slack fill and dimensional analysis procedures for internal use and helped the firm restructure their new product development cycle to incorporate slack fill and packaging size considerations.

Read more about how Chainalytics’ packaging optimization helps our clients packaging navigate complex environments:

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