Article contributed by Inno-Pak
Often, customers will see and experience the food package before they get to see, let alone taste, your food.
In many cases, if the packaging doesn’t convey the value of your food, then the value of your food isn’t being conveyed—and you could be losing business. A good food-packaging fit ensures that you get a fair chance in the marketplace.
So, to help businesses make informed packaging decisions, we at Inno-Pak put together this guide on how to choose the best package for your food. It includes the information you need to weigh the various tradeoffs that abound when picking packaging.
First, Your Brand
Your brand should be your first consideration when you’re choosing your food packaging.
Do you sell quality products at a good price? Then you probably want a straightforward, value-focused package. If instead, you deliver a unique and memorable experience, then you’re going to want a package that complements that experience. Similarly, if sustainability is important to your brand, you’re going to need to choose packaging that reflects those values and avoid packages that undermine them.
Now that you’ve got your brand firmly in mind, one of the elements you’ll need to consider is the sustainability story you want to tell.
Of the many sustainability factors to consider, we recommend asking yourself if the package:
- Reduces material usage/weight?
- Reduces use of virgin materials?
- Uses environmentally friendly materials?
- Is recyclable?
- Is commercially compostable?
When thinking about the durability of packaging, you need to consider the wear and tear of transportation. Try putting your largest or heaviest meal in a package and drive it home. Did it arrive damaged? Did items get mixed together or swap flavors?
Your employees, too, need to be able to quickly use the food packaging in your business to keep up with orders when every second counts. See if your employees can try out any new packages you’re evaluating. Do they decrease the time spent or keep it the same? Are they less likely to spill or cause other issues?
Now that you have an idea of your performance and sustainability needs, it’s time to think about the materials you’ll want to use. You’ll need to tailor your choices to fit the sustainability story you want to tell while also getting the performance you need.
Keep in mind that paper has a better reputation for sustainability than plastic does. But, ultimately, you have to find the solution that works best for your business and your community’s resources. Look around for commercially compostable facilities and recyclers in your area. What makes the most sense for you?
You may find that you need the high performance characteristics of rigid plastic and have a local recycler who can accept them. Or you might find that you can work with paper cartons that are commercially compostable and welcome near you. Balancing these tradeoffs, while difficult, is the key to finding the right package you need.
Fit and Size
The fit and size of your packaging is crucial to a successful packaging program. You want packages that fit your food easily. Ideally, you want them to have little space left over as well so customers don’t feel like they got a small portion. Take the regular orders from your menu, combo meals especially if you offer them, and see how they fit into the different packages you’re evaluating.
Food packaging has to be appealing to a customer’s eye whether it’s standing on the shelf at a supermarket or being dropped off on someone’s porch. Otherwise, it can harm their appetite. The packaging has to convey the value of the product inside it, which means you want a package that looks clean and inviting—not something that’s leaked grease or is difficult to open or handle.
By now, you should have a few options in mind for your packaging. As you narrow down your options, ask yourself these questions:
- How does your food look inside of it with the lid open? With the lid closed?
- Does the package get greasy or otherwise gross looking after some time?
- Does it appear easy to open and/or inviting?
Food delivery is a growing business and it makes up more and more of restaurants, grocery stores, and even convenience stores’ bottom lines every year. Many third-party apps will deliver up to five miles—which could mean multiple potholes, sharp turns, and other hazards to your food.
That’s why it’s important to get a package that can stand up to the rigors of even a rough delivery experience. Having inserts that keep your food separate from each other or compartmented plastic containers can help keep your foods from swapping flavors during delivery and transit.
Of course, everything comes down to the budget one way or another. If you’ve followed our suggestions above, you should have the right-sized packaging with the right performance characteristics that makes an impactful, yet cost-effective, investment in your brand. If you’ve got too large a package or are using too many SKUs, you may be missing out on cost savings. Your packaging is an extension of your brand and not just a cost of business. It’s your brand ambassador, and it makes sense to invest in it.
Get More Insights about Food Packaging from the Pros
As an innovative food packaging provider, Inno-Pak doesn’t think outside the box; it reinvented the box. For more than 30 years, Inno-Pak has had the pleasure of providing the most innovative packaging and best-in-class customer service to the foodservice, grocery, and convenience store industries.
If you’d like more tips on how to put your best food forward, visit Inno-Pak’s blog. There, you can find information about using QR codes, how sustainability factors into consumers’ decisions, the latest trends in packaging and how they’ll impact your business, and more.