• 09.01.06

Plastic Planet

For Tupperware, all the world’s a storage container.

Nearly 80% of Tupperware Brands’ $1.3 billion of revenue–and 95% of its profits–comes from outside North America. In most countries, it isn’t Jel-Ring molds that keep the home parties humming. Instead, Tupperware relies on local managers to inform designs–turning humdrum plastic into global exotica.

  • Bumbu containers, Indonesia

    In Indonesia, Tupperware hired women execs who were attuned to local food practices. One result: a container for a mix of spices, called “bumbu,” used to season meats. Bumbu, which includes star anise, cumin, and cardamom, is traditionally stored in tin containers that don’t preserve flavors well. Tupperware seals in the aromatic spices–with a design considered fashionable enough to display on the dinner table.

    1 out of 5
  • Kimchi Keeper, Korea

    Kimchi, a spicy fermented- cabbage dish traditionally buried underground, is distinctively pungent. Tupperware’s container features a tight but flexible seal to keep the stuff from flavoring other foods–while allowing gases produced by fermentation to escape. Tupperware CEO Rick Goings recalls being present when Korean workers simultaneously pulled the lids off their kimchi: “To be in a lunchroom in Korea–you just want to leave the room.”

    1 out of 5
  • CheeSmart, France

    The French regard cheese as alive and changing (unlike Americans, who just wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge). The company’s researchers in Belgium labored to learn exactly how cheese goes bad. They developed a container with a semipermeable membrane to reduce condensation, preventing mold. “There’s a balance between keeping cheese soft and mold-free,” says Goings. “If you seal it, you’ll get green stuff.”

    3 out of 5