With the majority of the food industry transitioning towards healthy food options, this segment has experienced significant growth in the past few years. When major food companies invest in healthier food products and ingredients they are also looking into investing in packaging, which is an important decision factor for health-conscious consumers. According to Benjamin Punchard, Global Packaging Insights Director at Mintel and Paulina Dudkiewicz, Marketing Segment Manager of Snacks and Nuts at Amcor, there are key packaging traits that food companies can use to appeal to the growing health-focused market.
In an interview with BakeryandSnacks, Punchard highlighted on-the-go snacks as a growing category in the health food market. As consumers adapt to busier lifestyles, they are looking for convenient yet healthy food options to eat on-the-go.
“Snacks have historically been an occasional indulgence, something we might use as a treat to indulge ourselves. But now, as our lifestyles are changing we are increasingly snacking on-the-go as a way of supplementing or replacing our main meals,” Punchard told BakeryandSnacks.
In a presentation , the two industry experts discussed how major food companies are investing in portable snacks with added health benefits. According to the presentation, the percentage of new snack launches with added healthy ingredient claims in Europe increased from 6.3 percent in 2013 to 14.2 percent in 2017. Out of these 2017 product launches, there was a 14 percent increase from 2014 in products that had organic claims. In addition, the European food market experienced a 15 percent increase in gluten-free claims, a six percent increase in high fibre claims and a five percent increase in wholegrain and low/no sugar claims.
However, the biggest trend noted by the two speakers was in healthy on-the-go snack packaging. Punchard and Dudkiewicz have found that consumers are growingly becoming interested in portable snack options that fit their busy lifestyles.
“Think about a packaging format that suits someone who is travelling or seated on a train, bus or in a car. The packaging needs to offer on-the-go convenience such as packaging that can serve as a bowl, comes with a flat bottom, or a pop sound that resembles freshness when opening, anything that can save time on the go,” Dudkiewicz told BakeryandSnacks.
When it comes to on-the-go packaging designs, minimalism seems to be a key factor. Food companies should consider their key messaging and try to inform consumers about the health qualities of their product without overcrowding the package. A good example of a minimalist packaging design is the RXBAR, which was recently acquired by Kellogg, with its simple one or two color background and four to five ingredients that are boldly printed on its label. Another minimalist packaging design mentioned is one with a transparent “window” that shows a product’s quality and simple ingredients. Consumers translate minimalism into transparency and the less ingredients and sensationalism that comes with a product, the more likely it is for a consumer to trust it.
In addition, food companies should consider the size and portions of their products. According to Punchard and Dudkiewicz, consumers appreciate smaller portioned snack items because it helps them control their daily calorie intake. These smaller pack sizes use a variety of on-the-go packaging applications such as smaller widths for an easy hand-held experience or foldability for easy storage. According to Mintel research, about 54 percent of UK consumers agree that smaller pack sizes help with portion and calorie control. To add to that, about 40 percent of German consumers believe that portion-controlled snacks are a good alternative to cutting down on sugar content.
Consumers also appreciate freshness when it comes to food products, even if the product they are purchasing has not necessarily been freshly-produced. A good way to incorporate the notion of freshness into product packaging is by producing packs with resealable zips. A resealable option gives consumers the perception that a product is fresh and its freshness can be preserved with its own packaging. According to Mintel, about 64 percent of UK snack eaters would like to see more resealable packaging with their snack options.
Another important factor to consider in product packaging is ingredients, which also directly affects a company’s product. There is a growing trend in naturally-sourced ingredients when it comes to new snack product formulations.
One of the biggest and most popular trends in ingredients is the high-protein movement; products that contain naturally-sourced protein are seeing a lot of growth in the food industry. However, there has been a shift in this segment to more plant-based protein sources. Mintel finds that 60 percent of French consumers, 61 percent of Italian consumers and 63 percent of Spanish consumers want to see more high protein snack bars. In addition, about 50 percent of consumers between the ages of 16 and 34 eat/drink high protein foods and beverages.
As the demand for naturalness evolves in the food industry, there seems to be a growth in “raw” ingredients. Raw foods and beverages are composed of uncooked, unprocessed or minimally processed ingredients. This trend is experiencing growth because of diets like the Paleo and Ketogenic diet.
Another important factor to consider when producing new packaging for a food item is sustainability. Consumers are on their way to placing as much importance on sustainable packaging as they do in healthy ingredients. Recyclable and biodegradable packaging is now sought after by consumers as they become more involved in ecological sustainability. In response to this growing trend, various food startups have been investing in compostable packaging. In the Netherlands, there is even a grocery chain committing to providing a completely plastic-free aisle in all of their locations.
Food companies have just 27 seconds to appeal to shoppers as they scan the packaging of a product. By incorporating consumer values and perceptions into packaging, food manufacturers can grow consumer trust and loyalty and in turn, product sales