Cheese packaging has been given a modern makeover by a group of design students at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London.

The British Cheese Board commissioned the ‘Cheese Futures’ competition to challenge and explore the current boundaries of cheese packaging and identify what consumers might expect to see on supermarket shelves in the future. This is the first time a design initiative on this scale has been undertaken within the cheese industry.

Twenty six students from across the globe studying an MA in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins took part in the project.

The students were tasked with reinventing traditional cheese packaging and to consider anything from a simple embellishment or graphical overhaul of a current design, to a complete structural reinvention. The brief specifically outlined that all submissions had to be commercially viable. Students were asked to take into account the same challenges experienced by the sector such as the feasibility of mass production of their design concept, protecting the cheese from damage, extending shelf life, and the communication of nutritional information and the health benefits of cheese.

The winning submission was created by 22 year old Pauline Jaramillo, from Paris, France. Her concept The Hug (above) -- a small rucksack designed to hug a piece of fruit – was selected as the overall winner. This simple but effective concept was chosen as it clearly communicated the importance of portion control and the versatility of cheese as an alternative nutritional snack that can be enjoyed with fruit as part of a healthy balanced diet.

The first runner-up was Jerry Yang, from Taiwan. His hard cheese Shaker and Twist packet featured perforated cheese shaker lids to make cheese decanting easier and more efficient for the consumer at home.

Steve Williams from Brighton, Sussex was awarded third place for his It’s Alive Stilton packaging (below) that was both visually appealing and practical as the design incorporated a re-usable cheese slicing mechanism.

I-Wen Lee, from Taiwan, was also highly commended for her ‘structural goat’s cheese’ packaging and Nick O’Neill from Cambridge for his Cheese on the Go packaging which clearly educated consumers on the provenance of different British cheeses.

Nigel White, Secretary of the British Cheese Board commented: "Cheese is one of the largest, most important segments of the UK food and drinks market, and as such is already well served by a range of very practical but incredibly innovative and technologically advanced packaging.

"The purpose of the ‘Cheese Futures’ Project was to challenge the next generation of designers to think about cheese packaging in a completely new and different way, and the concepts delivered by the students did not disappoint. I really believe that some of these concepts are viable additions to the packaging we currently see on our shelves and could be adopted and brought to market by the industry."

In addition to the guidance and support provided by the British Cheese Board, the students benefited from advice and support from a number of industry specialists. P&W Design – a company that provides design solutions for retail giant Tesco – led a question and answer session at the outset of the project, and North Downs Dairy’s hosted the students on a tour of their cheese packaging plant in Somerset. P&W Design and North Downs Dairy joined PFM Packaging and the British Cheese Board to judge the competition.

All five students have received a cash prize. The commercial viability of their concepts is being considered by a number of UK’s cheese producers and packaging providers.