David Roberge

By: David Roberge on February 15th, 2018

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How Surging U.S. Food Production Should Drive Your Packaging Design

Packaging Materials | Environment | The Business of Packaging | Investment | Packaging Design | Food Packaging

The majority of segments in the United States’ core economy expanded in 2017, but the growth isn’t expected to stop this year. Anirban Basu, Chief Economist of the Associated Builders and Contractors, indicates that the U.S. economy is set up for continued growth in 2018. The agriculture and food production sector is specifically growing due to rising real wages, low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates, a rising stock market, and low commodity prices.

With surging demand for food, these manufacturers are faced with substantial opportunity to carve out greater market share. Sticking with the status quo won’t propel your business further, however. The majority of food production companies stand to better engage consumers with revamped packaging. Especially if your food packaging is lagging behind the latest trends, the time is now to redesign your product presentation and make the most out of this ripe economy.


According to a study conducted by the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, 50% of consumers are more likely to purchase your product when your packaging tells them where your product was made. If you don’t currently list your manufacturing location, this simple change can have a substantial impact on your sales.


So what are consumers looking for? And what food packaging trends and best practices do you need to know about?


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Simplify Your Ingredient & Nutrition Labels

More and more, consumers are shying away from buying products with ingredients they don’t know (or can’t pronounce, for that matter). This trend is not new, but it will be a bigger factor as consumer spending continues its surge. In 2018, the “healthy food = simple ingredients” movement will be more prevalent than ever.


Food products with a longer shelf-life, such as snacks and baked goods are especially prone to this movement. Preservatives are a deterrent to the health-conscious consumer. Cutting these ingredients from your foods and finding alternatives for preservation will cleanse your nutrition label and better capture consumers’ interest and wallets. Talk to your supplier about flexible films and how they can take the place of preservatives.


Minimalism extends beyond your ingredients, too. Clean and clear labeling and nutrition is taking over the food packaging industry. The reason? – Consumers expect to find the information they’re looking for almost instantly, and they expect it to be easily understood.

To that point, you should only display your most relevant product information.


Experiment with Your Food Packaging

Food manufacturers have tended to stick with familiar package designs despite the opportunities that more substantial changes can capture. Recently, we’ve seen more and more brands breaking out of their same-old, stale packaging and designing contemporary, unique packages that draw attention to their product.


Many of these brands have adopted relatively experimental styles, and the most effective are the designs built around the target consumer. There’s a legitimate psychology to packaging – Your product shape, color, and textures can all communicate to consumers on a subconscious level.


Your packaging needs to create an experience. This, of course, means designers may need to take creative leaps. Packaging Digest notes that, “Recreating the familiar has been a strong trend in packaging design for some time now, but as more experimental styles flood the scene, it seems to be taking a back seat. In its place, we’re seeing designers take bigger creative risks with innovative and whimsical packaging solutions.”


Innovation is never comfortable. But if you push the envelope with the consumer in mind, you stand to engage them more convincingly. Some of the most creative design trends include the use of doodles, photography, big, bold text, vintage packaging, and the use of holographic effects.


Don’t forget how ease of use impacts your consumers’ experiences either. According to the International Journal of Scientific Research and Management Studies, the shape and ease of use of packaging affects consumer behavior and purchase habits. Data reflects that a package designed for easy carrying, used and storage will perform better than one that is difficult to manage. So while you want to experiment, never lose sight of why you’re innovating, and who you’re innovating for.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A closely-connected trend with the surge in demand for simple ingredients is the demand for eco-friendly manufacturing and packaging. Your consumers have become evermore conscious of how packaging and effects the environment. And their purchases reflect their moral compass.


To align with consumer demands, more and more brands are opting for packaging and packing materials that leave a minimal carbon footprint. The cheapest, most accessible materials are no longer cutting it. Thanks to substantial research and innovation within sustainable packaging, new materials such as algae-based gel and milk protein-based biodegradable film. And for some time now, non-recyclable plastics have been replaced by biodegradable materials such as paper, hemp, starch, cellulose, and bamboo. To consumers’ delight, this is a trend that has been increasing for some time now.


Other technological innovations are even bringing biodegradability and compost-ability to the flexible plastics packaging markets. Capitalizing on recyclability can demonstrate your passion for the environment and convey your corporate responsibility.


Though developing technologies are leading to wider adoption of green-friendly packaging, many businesses continue to commit sustainable packaging mistakes, says Mark Dancy, CEO of waste reduction company, WasteZero. According to Dancy, most businesses’ packaging priorities are how effectively it drives consumers to their product and how much the packaging costs.


Some companies make environmental sustainability a third priority, though in a tier below the others. But even those companies stand above the rest, to this point. In order to build true brand loyalty, however, food production companies need to go all in on earth-saving initiatives.


Reap the Benefits of a Packaging Redesign

While many manufacturers won’t respond to surging food production with opportunistic packaging changes, the potential is there for the taking. Adapting to your consumers will not only help you take advantage of increasing demand, but you may also build greater brand loyalty.

Don’t let overhauling or even tweaking your packaging overwhelm you, though. Packaging experts can help you talk through any design changes you may be considering. Don’t hesitate to consult an expert at Industrial Packaging.


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About David Roberge

I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.