News Feature | May 16, 2014

Is Your Food Packaging Setting The Trend?

By Alec Italiano, contributing writer

Food Packaging Trends

Matte finishes and all-white packaging give many food manufacturers a more natural and organic image in an ultra-competitive market

Like many other trends, package designs tend to be cyclical in nature and require changing up every so often. This is done for three reasons. First, packaging changes allow the food maker to keep up with the shifting taste of the consumer. Next, it provides a new image for the product, making that product stand apart on the supermarket shelf.  Finally, labeling laws require food and beverage companies to keep up with the latest regulations. When it comes to package design though, first movers usually are the companies ushering in the new trends and often times, end up dominating the market as a result.

Currently, two trending designs in food packaging are matte finishes, especially prominent in the snacks segment, and bright white boxes — giving products a natural, clean look. Both of these trends are designed to make food appear more organic. The matte finish portrays an old-school, hand-made looking which appeals to consumers’ sense of nostalgia. The matte finish also is better for show as it reduces glare under bright supermarket lights compared to a glossy-finished package.

Bright white packages were first made popular in the freezer aisle, but are now making a comeback for products like organic pet food and organic drinks. Food packaging designers are trying to create an image for products as “natural” or better-for-you, without explicitly saying it on the package. However, this only works if the package is cleverly tied to the overall brand through the actual writing on the package. Consumers are smart, and in a world where the word “natural” is overused and carries little to no influence over the consumer, using the package to convey that natural message without the actual word is crucial in today’s market.

Using the design of cereal packaging as an example, a lot has changed regarding how a consumer makes their choice. At first, maybe it was just a flashy front-of-box design. Then, consumers started ignoring the front and began making decisions based on the nutritional information on the back. Now, brands such as Kashi are touting attributes such as “non-GMO” and other positive nutritional info on the front of the box to make the sale. In an era where consumers are looking past “natural” claims, packaging is going to play a big role in influencing consumers in this evolving market.