Food packaging trends
 
 
 

Five trends shaping food packaging

​We take a look at the biggest trends affecting food packaging today, from premium branded coffees to multi-pack snacks.
5/2017 TEXT: IAN FENTON, IMAGES: METSÄ BOARD & SHUTTERSTOCK

​Individuality

From something as simple as writing the customer’s name on the side of their paperboard cup to complex and wide-reaching projects such as named soft-drink bottles, customisation is currently where it’s at. Digital printing is a key enabler of this trend, as is a new approach to packaging that takes account of variation. This can mean accommodating a number of different diets, as well as the different snacking or dining needs of the consumer – through supplying varied portion sizes.

Affordability

The need to economise on the part of consumers is also being addressed by packaging trends. It is increasingly common to find larger packs of individually packaged portions on sale in supermarkets, often used to provide snacks without the need to purchase them one by one. In certain markets, meals usually consumed outside the home have moved indoors (the Spanish breakfast being one example). Consumers are also tending to buy only the amount they intend to consume, feeding into the trend for more varied packaging.

Experience

It may sound silly at first, but consumers increasingly use food packaging to project an image of themselves. The value of a branded cup of coffee is in this way exceedingly higher than simply the liquid in the cup. Premium foods are certainly here to stay – and consumers seem to want to show each other they can afford them. Additional features such as QR codes and augmented reality are being used to create buzz and extend the possibilities of branded goods. We are also now far more likely to see graphic elements on our packaging that reflect sustainability attributes.
Consuming take-away food on a park bench

Health & sustainability

And this trend is about more than just the branding. Healthy options have found their way onto the menus of restaurants which would, in the past, have been considered to be selling the most unhealthy of fast foods. This doesn’t just mean a burger meal with a diet soft drink either, but instead, inherently healthy options such as salads. The snacking category has come to reflect these values almost completely, with nutrition bars and individually packaged portions of nuts and berries forming a new default range even in convenience stores.

On-the-go lifestyle

Grocery shops and convenience stores answering momentary needs are one consequence of our increasingly busy schedules, but life on the go means more than just eating on the move. In fact, our rhythms are blurring more and more, and traditionally accepted meal times are losing their firm hold on our daily routine. This often means, again, demand for smaller package sizes – in this instance also to make them easier to carry in one hand. The convenience store might now be where we pick up a cup of coffee, sandwich or wrap – the borders are shifting, and food packaging in general is itself changing to reflect this new retail landscape.

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