The food industry is always going through changes and improvements, in the attempt to keep pace with the everchanging consumers and their behavior. It’s not surprising that consumers have more control over the food and beverage industry than they’ve ever had before, and a large part of this power comes from the latest improvements in technology.
Social media sites, blogs and apps are all common platforms that give consumers the opportunity to share their experiences with others when it comes to the latest food crazes, trusted brands and new items on shelves. Customers can use these easy sharing tools in an attempt to award or punish food and beverage companies for their efforts. Whether a customer likes the packaging or is impressed with an item’s nutritional value, others will certainly hear about it. This kind of change in the food industry has many companies scrambling, not only to please their current consumers but to also keep up with current trends and intrigue new customers as well.
In a world where we are more aware than ever about what we are putting into our bodies, food companies everywhere must keep up with the latest trends in order to maintain the consumer’s confidence in their brand and what they have to offer.
If you’re curious about the latest developments in the food industry, the following are some of the most prominent trends in the food packaging and fulfillment:
No longer can a food company put something on grocery store shelves without being completely transparent about their products. Where consumers may have been more worried about taste than nutritional value in the past, opinions have changed drastically—and for the better.
There are a few factors that might have had a hand in swaying consumers to be smarter food shoppers, including online sharing, accessible information, personal experiences or family genetics. Whatever the source for the shoppers’ change of heart, there is no denying that more and more people around the world are becoming increasingly food-conscious.
In terms of food packaging, this change has meant that companies are now responsible for being completely up front about their food, starting at the labeling. Effective labeling should inform customers about the nutritional value of something, as well as any added information that can give them a leg up over competitors that are offering the same kinds of items.
Food companies will also want to package their items with labeling that informs shoppers of any requirements they’ve met, which allows them to be considered “healthier options”. For example, President’s Choice incorporated a “Blue Menu” label for their packages, which informs shoppers that food items have less fat, less sodium, more fiber and more omega-3’s, along with other nutritional benefits as well.
Quality food labeling is very important for this food packaging trend. Consumers rely on this aspect of packaging, in order to tell them everything they need to know before they can make decisions about which items are best for their needs. Labels that are hard to read, damaged or damp won’t be effective, and companies should be just as invested in using labels that are durable as they are about offering simple, nutritional information.
Companies that are transparent and accessible are the ones that garner trust and respect from their consumers. Unfortunately for most food companies, they don’t have the chance to speak face-to-face with every customer about their items and why they should choose them. It’s not as easy to create that connection between business and customer, but that need for relationships is a growing trend in the food industry.
To help food brands create a better connection to potential consumers, a recent trend has been accessibility through food packaging. This means that packaging will contain various ways for customers to connect with a brand, to learn more about who they are and what their brand values. This could be in the form of social media usernames, employee photos or even barcodes to scan for more information.
The idea here is to utilize packaging as a means of opening up the lines of communication between consumers and suppliers. Giving people the chance to learn more about a company, to read employee bios or to educate them on how their product is made is extremely valuable to gaining consumer trust and appreciation.
The more accessible food information becomes the more consumers have the ability to develop opinions and preferences in every aspect of the food they’re buying. From the packaging material to the treatment of the animals, consumers now have the opportunity to compare very miniscule differences between products and make decisions based on factors they take very seriously.
Customers are now much more aware of the differences between name brands, and often prefer items that are of higher quality, more fairly-priced and that are more sustainable. The list of “must-haves” as it were, are growing, and companies now are trying to find ways to meet these needs without jeopardizing the success of their food items.
This is why automation is one of the major trends in food packaging and fulfillment, as companies tackle ways to increase operational efficiency and distribution while also maintaining quality and food safety. Automation is now a common tool in food production, in order to cut back on line time, to increase worker safety and to decrease contamination.
Currently, one of the most popular trends in food packaging and fulfillment is the increased demand for products that are organic or gluten-free. As an extension of the health food craze, many people are beginning to learn more about gluten and some of the negative effects it may have on the body. While many people have recognized their intolerance to gluten, others are simply making the personal decision to avoid products with gluten in them.
Similarly, products that are organic are also trending at the moment, with consumers looking for food items that are free from harmful chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, GMO’s and radiation. Food packaging that is labeled as “Gluten-Free” or “Organic” are much more likely to receive interest from large groups, so companies now must be mindful of whether their food products have these kinds of options and how they can incorporate that information into their packaging effectively.
Not only are consumers becoming more engaged in making smart food choices, but they’re also becoming more aware of the impact that food production has on the environment. As a result, another one of the prominent trends in food packaging and fulfillment is offering waste-free products.
Going waste-free is beneficial not only to the environment, but it also has the potential to be very advantageous for production companies themselves. This is because waste-free doesn’t just cover the scope of wasting large amounts of food, it also covers the scope of wasting less valuable resources such as water and energy.
Companies are now going through each of the stops in their supply chains looking for ways to cut back on waste, as a means to turn loss into value. Sustainable packaging is just one of the ways that companies are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and please the growing demands of their consumers to be more environment-aware.
Many food products are now stored in smaller, lighter packaging options that can either be recycles or reused. The end result is lower manufacturing costs for companies, less garbage going into the landfills and decreased transportation needs. For those companies who short lifespan items, having re-sealable bags that can be re-used helps to fight food waste and lessens the spending on package waste.
It has been reported that almost 1/3 of the food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage, which means that this food packaging trend is extremely important to making our food purchases really count.
The reason why online shopping is so difficult, is because people often can’t see or touch the merchandise that they want to buy. Oftentimes, consumers will end up with a product that was nothing like they imagined and they’ll end up sending it back or throwing it out.
The same thing occurs for many food items that don’t embrace transparency. Customers want to know and even see what they’re going to be purchasing, especially if it’s a new product they’ve never tried before. If they can’t use the packaging design to get an idea of what’s inside, they may be more likely to choose another competitor that is more informative.
Having transparency in food packaging is another current trend, and many companies have taken this quite literally by incorporating transparent packaging or detailed imagery to their products. The idea here is that companies have nothing to hide—what you see in this bag is what you get, and often times this kind of advertising can gain the trust of customers who have a hard time trying new items.
Transparency is all about a company being proud to display their food, incorporating it into the actual packaging and giving customers a chance to ‘take a look under the hood’ before making the purchase. It’s a motion of good will, and customers appreciate this kind of transparency with their food now more than ever.
No purchase feels quite as special or unique as when it comes decorated with your personalized name across it. Take Coca-Cola for example, who recently began a new marketing campaign that dressed the traditional Coca-Cola drinking bottle in personalized names for everyone to enjoy.
The latest marketing trend for this dominating beverage company saw Coca Cola sales rise by 2% in the United States alone, increasing revenue tenfold and winning back some of the soft drinkers of the past. This tactic has proven to be an effective one, as many customers value a unique touch such as this, that makes a great personal purchase or fun gift for a friend.
With the successful marketing, it’s no surprise that customization has become a popular trend in food packaging for other companies as well. However, it’s not necessarily just personal names that will do the trick. The main idea is that companies are reaching out to customers by creating unique packaging and labels, which make the purchase more exciting and interactive than before. It creates an experience from the moment you receive your food, taking advantage of packaging as a further marketing tool as opposed to only being a vessel for something.
Another great example is from McDonalds, who every year give customers the chance to play Monopoly every time they purchase an item off of their menu. The labels on their merchandise can be peeled off and collected, with the chance for consumers to win different prizes throughout the promotion. The idea is to get more traffic into the stores, to increase conversion and to get customers trying new menu items.
Other popular interactive or customizable packages have included fortunes, unique quotes and hand-written letters. This is one of the more fun trends that rely heavily on marketing teams to make their products stand out among the rest.
Packaging may have been nothing but a vessel for food in the past, but today it holds a lot more responsibility. Food companies need to take their packaging decisions very seriously, as consumers will make very quick decisions about a company based on their first look at a product.
With this in mind, it’s clear that trends in food packaging are all based around the concept of being see-through; companies shouldn’t hide what they’re feeding us, and putting in a little extra effort will always go a long way when it comes to pleasing the consumer. Businesses should consider their food packaging as an appetizer to the main meal inside; it will set individuals up for the main dish, and have them feeling confident about the choice that they made.
If you’re just beginning to choose labels and packaging for your products, be sure to consider the advice provided here to make the most of your advertising real estate.