When it comes to its spreads business, Boulder Brands, Boulder, Colo., thinks four corners are better than none. That’s why it rolled out an innovative square Smart Balance butter tubpackage for Smart Balance buttery spreads and Earth Balance natural and organic buttery spreads in a move that is said to revolutionize the way products are displayed in the dairy case and stored in the warehouse.

The conversion from round to square space-saving tubs—a first in the industry—solves one of the biggest issues grocers face with dairy products today—freeing up refrigerated shelf and warehouse space. With this move, Boulder Brands expects shelf efficiency to increase by 50% and warehouse efficiency to increase by up to 60%.

By switching from a 4.5-inch diameter round tub to a 4-inch wide square tub, Smart Balance and Earth Balance will allow grocers to put 60 units on the shelf in the same space that previously held 40. Facings will grow from 10 to 12 and rows will increase from four to five deep. Retailers will be able to reduce out of stocks while at the same time offer great variety on the shelf.

The transition to a space-saving tub also provides significant space savings in the warehouse, where Boulder Brands anticipates space efficiency increases of between 30-60%, depending on the item. This is accomplished with no changes in the product price, weight, volume and ingredients.

“Boulder Brands is committed to creating innovative, solution-driven products for grocers and consumers,” says Steve Hughes, chairman and CEO. “If our leadership motivates other spreads and dairy items to go square, [then] larger grocers can gain up to 30 or 40 feet on the shelves. This allows retailers to introduce new foods to consumers, including a wider selection of Smart Balance and Earth Balance varieties.”

Boulder Brands is making the capital investments at no additional cost to grocers and consumers, and Hughes said it reinforces the company’s commitment to the spreads category. “Reaction from our customers has been strongly positive,” Hughes adds, “and we expect this initiative to strengthen our retail partnerships and drive incremental business gains.”

The change also achieves significant carbon savings. A study conducted for Boulder Brands by Renewable Choice Energy, a Boulder, Colo.-based sustainability consulting firm, finds that the new design will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the products’ packaging, distribution and retail energy use by 18% over the course of the product’s life cycle (169 grams CO2 per tub). “The new package design reduces the amount of shelf space occupied by each product at stores, and also requires less material to produce,” says Matt Wood, vice president of consulting for Renewable Choice.

“These improvements generate significant carbon savings for Smart Balance and Earth Balance, and changes to the 15-ounce Smart Balance packaging alone could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions related to the product by more than 700 tons.”

The square packaging will begin to appear on grocery shelves in late Q2 and should fully replace the round tubs on shelf by mid Q3. All 13 varieties of Smart Balance buttery spreads and five varieties of Earth Balance natural and organic buttery spreads will convert to the square tubs.