If you work in foodservice and are looking for a way to gain an edge over the competition, think creative and even tech-integrated food containers-to-go. The impact of the pandemic has changed the face of the restaurant industry, giving takeout and delivery services a top spot in the realm of operations in a trend that is here to stay. At the same time, eco-friendly packaging, safe food handling, and takeout aesthetics have become all-important to the palates of consumers.
If you want your takeout food service to capture the attention and satisfy the hunger of customers old and new, good food alone will no longer cut the mustard. To boost your restaurant ‘biz, unique and game-changing takeout food packaging are key ingredients to success.
Niche Package Marketing
During the pandemic businesses across the board were forced to re-examine the unfolding landscape and adjust their offerings accordingly. In the world of foodservice, these new realities included updating consumer preferences and understanding what they are willing to pay top dollar for. While takeout and delivery was viewed as the safest method of operations, it was in the nuances of these services, such as food containers and food packaging materials, where small and large businesses alike carved out their niche.
What’s New in Food Packaging
Savvy restaurant owners quickly learned the importance of being early adapters to emerging trends in the industry. They learned that food packaging made a difference. Here are some of the latest ways that food packaging has been given a facelift, as well as some true-and-tried standards that customers have come to expect.
1) Food Package Labeling
Never before has transparency in food packaging labels been more important. Be sure to cater to consumers’ demands for safeguards that promote customer health and sustainable packaging to protect the environment. On printed labels, pay attention to clear labeling with easy-to-read fonts and bold colors that are quickly noticeable and accelerate customers’ decision-making process. For an upgrade, invest in digitalized smart labels that are quickly becoming a golden standard in the eyes of U.S. regulators.
Under the new paradigm, foodservice owners are being called upon to maintain an updated online data system and provide high-tech QR codes on labels that provide tracking information on shipping and transportation protocols, food safety, ingredient traceability, inventory management, and more. High-tech innovations in food labels are also on the horizon, such as temperature-sensitive thermochromic ink that alerts retailers and consumers if a food intended to be cold was outside of an acceptable temperature range during transport, delivery, or storage.
The more data your business can provide to ensure product quality and safety, the higher the degree of confidence you can garner from customers, including their sought-after repeat business.
2) Food Container Sustainability
The sustainability trio – recyclable, compostable, and reusable – take on heightened importance in creating a positive brand image. Answering customers’ call for takeout containers and packaging made from natural and biodegradable materials is thus another way to generate success for your business. Some recent innovations in sustainable solutions include:
- To go food containers made from bagasse, sourced from sugarcane or sorghum stalks, and completely compostable
- Takeout boxes with leak-proof, compostable liners
- Recyclable cardboard containers that maintain food freshness during delivery
- Reusable to go containers, make of polypropylene, 100% BPA free, dishwasher safe, and entirely reusable.
- Reusable stainless steel containers fitted with silicone lids. The latter can put through a high-powered dish washer machine to guarantee sanitation and the eradication of germs and viruses.
3) Glass and Aluminum Food Containers
Say goodbye to plastic and hello to the millennium’s latest packing and shipping sweethearts: glass and aluminum. Both materials are forever recyclable without any loss to quality. Comparatively, aluminum is lighter for transportation purposes yet harder on the planet than glass. On the flip side of the frying pan, glass is more expensive but offers higher quality perception and less potential impact on taste.
4) Cutting-Edge Tech-Integrated Food Packaging
When it comes to innovation in the realm of technology, interactive food containers are likely not the first items that come to mind. Yet on the horizon are candy wrappers, fast food packaging, and transportation boxes that provide an augmented experience, allowing customers to interact with their takeout orders in unprecedented ways. Be on the lookout for 3D packaging artwork, digital games, interactive tours, and other artificial intelligence (AI) features guaranteed to attract consumer attention and boost sales.
Takeout Packaging Aesthetics Boosts Restaurant Business
Studies in brand promotion and consumer wants have identified five factors that capture customers’ attention and compel them to buy. These five qualities are: usefulness, conveyance of authority, funny, eye-catching or beautiful, and inspiring. In other words, what is on the outside DOES count, so invest some time considering your food container aesthetics and how you can incorporate compelling design elements to increase the purchasing power of your products. Anything that makes consumers turn their heads, laugh, snap a photo, or be engaged with your products is a sure-fire recipe for packaging formulas that pop.
Creative Take Away Food Packaging Ideas
To inspire customers to choose your eatery over the competition, here are some tried-and-true successful package design ideas, as well as some newcomers that have takeout food flying off the shelves.
- Use of Pattern: Don’t hesitate to utilize the gamut of geometric shapes, polka dots, and stripes in a rainbow of colors to grab buyers’ attention or invoke a certain mood.
- Keep it Simple: Sometimes less is more, so consider a clean, uncluttered look for your food packaging. At the same time, boring won’t cut it either, so be sure to up the ante with subtle shades, a touch of chic or sleek, or change things up with an element of nostalgia that invokes the appetite of consumers hungry for better times and classic menu favorites.
- Capitalize on Inner Design: One of the most underappreciated yet effective packaging design ideas for food and beverages is extending décor to the inside of the container or glass. First, make your packaging memorable by efficient use of all available spaces. For example, a tagline on the inside of the container lid to reinforce your brand; customized cutting of cardboard boxes to the precise size of your items for a finished, higher-end look; printed images of your brand’s graphic on each box bottom. You can also add humor with printed comic strips and iconic superhero images or convey sophistication through texture and container linings that cushion products or give them a gift-like feel. Anything fitting goes, so go for it!
- Reflective Product Packaging: You can never go wrong with packaging and wrappers that complement your brand, your menu items, and the consumer sensibilities that you wish to invoke. All-natural products, for example, can be touted via earthy colors, 100% natural shipping materials, simple fonts, and an inviting clean look.
- Multi-Use Takeout Containers: Protect the environment and cater to customers’ concerns regarding wastage via the use of reusable packing paraphernalia. Multi-use packaging is on the rise with many foodservice moguls coming up with breaking ground ideas, such as containers that can be transformed into flower vases, boxes that can double as decorative storage, food pails turned into sandboxes, and more.
- A Dollop of Humor Ices the Cake: When appropriate, cash in by tingling your customers’ taste buds with an injection of fun, playfulness, and humor in your food and beverage packaging. Consider takeout pizza boxes in the shape of mini ovens (with an optional feature allowing customers to pull their pizzas fresh out of the oven), desserts-to-go inside a penguin-shaped waiter, appetizers or drinks in mini-champagne bottles or disposable flute glasses, lunch-to-go in a picnic basket, and more.
The Power of the Personal Touch
Last but by no means least, you can significantly up your customer service game with personalized and customized food packaging labels and designs. Personalizing your customers’ menu orders goes a long way in showing them that you care and are willing to go the extra mile to cater to their cravings. In fact, marketing studies show that personalization advances customer relationships and boosts loyalty by as much as 70%. Fortunately, the advent of digital printing makes customized packaging easier than ever before, allowing you to pull out all the stops in providing an enhanced consumer experience and attracting restaurant traffic your way.
So put on your oven mitts, take out the pots and pans, and don your creative chef’s hat as you cook up a signature packaging portfolio that makes your foodservice memorable.