In the food industry, the packaging is as important as the contents themselves. Food packaging markets the product, prolongs its shelf life, and facilitates long-distance transportation. Being aware of the latest food packaging trends can help you keep your A-game on with your packaging selection.
How do you come up with the best design for your products? What are some modern food packaging trends you should be aware of? Let’s take a look.
Smart packaging is a clever way to package products. Technology can now be embedded right into the packaging to provide the consumer with more convenience, security, and information. Food packaging comes embedded with NFC chips or printed QR codes, Smart Labels that can be scanned using a smartphone to provide more information about the product.
Smart packaging also tracks several parameters like pH, temperature, fermentation to ensure freshness, flavour, quality, and maintain compliance with health standards. For example, Maggi Healthy Soups by Nestlé uses their patented 'granulation-based technology' to retain the freshness of key ingredients.
Technology-enabled packaging can be used to add cosmetic appeal too. For instance, during the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia, Budweiser provided beer cups with embedded LED lights. The lights were activated by noise. The more one cheered for their team, the more lights glowed.
Frito-Lay’s pack of tortilla-chip, Tostitos, came with an alcohol sensor, LED lights and NFC chips at the 2017 Super Bowl. The goal was to call an Uber ride for those who got drunk, adding a different dimension to packaging for consumer safety.
Consumers want more than just a product. They want to be part of a story. Studies have revealed that people are impacted by emotions, rather than information when making brand decisions. Emotional content is popular in advertising, social media, and consumers, with positive sentiments leading the way.
Take for example the case of Paper Boat. Paper Boat has successfully incorporated the feeling of reminiscence in its packaging to add emotional appeal. Their tagline, advertising, to graphics on the pouch captured a particular period in time perfectly.
Similarly, packaging can be used to reflect a brand’s vision and philosophy. Chocolate brand Liso’s packaging conveys the use of best-quality ingredients through high-end graphics.
Vintage designs have a nostalgic value. They evoke happy feelings in people reminding them of simpler times. The term “vintage” refers to any design or hint of a time gone by. This could be a single era or a combination of eras. Such designs trigger emotions that go beyond appealing to people who’ve lived in that era. They appeal to millennials too, who probably never experienced that time period.
The packaging for Van Leeuwen ice creams, Jack Daniel’s whiskey, or even the Parle-G biscuit are classic examples of how elements— graphics, letterpress fonts, solid matte or pastel colors— from the 1950s or 1960s can be incorporated into the design.
As per the research on Packaging and Consumer Behavior in 2020, “38% of consumers are willing to purchase a newly launched product with clear product information”.
People are conscious of what they eat. Although food packaging contains information on ingredients, reading the fine print can be hard. Companies are adopting transparent packaging and clear labelling to list out the contents of the product. Healthy food delivery arm Eat.fit underwent a packaging overhaul to clearly indicate the contents of each box. And, to stick to its promise of delivering healthy packaged meals daily.
Clean labelling can help you upscale your brand identity and assist consumers in making a knowledgeable purchase.
Most consumers have an ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle. This means they’re constantly looking for food options that are easier to grab, hold, eat, or carry. To meet this need, brands are putting in extra effort into making food packaging portable. McDonald’s, for example, launched the McBike package, especially for cyclists. The pack allows you to carry a burger, fries, and a drink in a foldable case that can be hooked to the handlebar.
Dunkin Donuts has a coffee cup top that is molded to carry condiments— sugar, cream, or coffee. Similarly, VitaPack offers paper-based packaging that lets you carry 1kg of fruit without much effort.
Personalization has been a crucial part of food packaging and is one of the leading trends. According to Deloitte Consumer Review, over 50% of millennials and Gen Z express a desire for personalized products. With the increase in production speeds, food packaging personalization is a reality. Take, for example, Coca-Cola. After the soda giant successfully launched bottles printed with names, personalized gift orders on their online store experienced a massive boost in sales.
Although the personalized food packaging trend is yet to be affordable to smaller food businesses, there are options to customize packaging. Manual customization can include the use of customized bags, boxes, stickers, or even gift tags to increase brand recall and appeal.
Minimalism is a huge trend in packaging design. The packaging industry has drifted away from flamboyant typefaces and cluttered designs, to adopt simplistic, clear labelling and packaging.
Minimalism is here to stay because of its no-nonsense nature. It helps highlight the product's value and does not overpower customers with graphics. This design trend is visible in almost every modern food packaging – be it snack bars, ketchup bottles, or even paper packaging for takeaway food at restaurants. Keeping the design simple not only makes the packaging look clean but also reduces the cost. Raw Pressery Juices is a good example of minimalistic beverage packaging.
Consumer studies say, “70% of consumers find graphics, colour, & shape the most attractive aspects of packaging”.
Gradients are a growing trend in multiple areas of design. Whether it’s the logo or packaging, gradient adds a level of depth and complexity that adds intrigue. Unlike minimalistic or vintage packaging that uses solid or subdued hues, gradients can bring attention to products on the shelf.
It’s important however to use the right packaging colours to keep the design subtle.
“84% of consumers are willing to pay an additional amount of up to INR 3 for sustainable packaging” - Packaging and Consumer Behaviour: 2020
Over the last few years, food packaging has become greener. The push for eco-friendly solutions has driven big brands to ditch single-use plastics and provide biodegradable, recyclable or reusable packaging.
We now see the use of paper packaging more than ever. For example, plastic food trays are being replaced by biodegradable meal trays. A lot of research is also going into edible food packaging as well where the pack itself can be consumed as a part of the food. Multiple start-ups have also begun manufacturing single-use food packaging and cutlery from plant-based materials for improved sustainability.
The role of packaging in the consumer journey has extended beyond the shelf. Emerging trends in the food packaging industry are highly influenced by the need for smart, clean, convenient, and sustainable solutions. It’s time to adopt these new trends for your brands and move ahead.