In today’s fast-paced world, consumers are busier than ever and are increasingly influenced by convenience and the need to make quick decisions.
As a result, consumers require food options they can consume while on-the-go.
The increased demand has caused continued increases in grab-and-go food sales in recent years.
In the following, we will go over the importance of selecting the right food packaging and provide you with 5 key tips to help you make sure your packaging will attract consumers.
The grab-and-go food trend, once limited to supermarkets, has expanded to include airports, schools, hotels, colleges, restaurants, and other businesses serving food.
As a food provider, capitalizing on the rising demand for grab-and-go foods can help your business increase food sales.
For some, increasing sales will mean complementing your regular menus with prominent, open-faced refrigeration units. While for others, it will mean installing vending machines or kiosks in your facility.
Often an impulse purchase, no matter where grab-and-go food is being displayed, grab-and-go food packaging needs to be visually appealing, functional, and convenient to consumers.
An easy way to capture the market is to select product packaging that merchandises your product for you.
Providing your customers with high-quality, grab-and-go packaging that makes selection easy, will help your customers make a quick choice and in turn help boost your food sales.
Merchandising your Menu Items for Increased Grab & Go Food Sales
To capture the grab-and-go consumer, your grab-and-go packaging should mirror the quality of food that you are selling, to signal to your customers that they’re getting the same quality on-the-go as they would receive in-house.
Ensuring your product can reach its full sales potential requires you to select packaging that:
1. Enhances Food Item Appearance
2. Promotes Food Item Freshness
3. Provides Convenience to the Consumer
4. Improves Safety
5. Aligns with Sustainability Trends
1. Enhanced Appearance
One of the most important ways to help consumers make an easy choice, and in turn grow your sales, is to highlight the quality of your food by making the product easily visible to the consumer.
People buy with their eyes.
Whether the item is under a food heat lamp or in a refrigerated display, you should always display your food in packaging that compliments your menu items and appeals to consumers.
People want to see what they are purchasing. Clear packaging will demonstrate that what you see is what you get. A clear display of your food items will show the food’s preferred features such as fresh, crisp vegetables or gooey mac and cheese.
“Clear plastic packaging is significantly more attractive to consumers than printed paperboard boxes.” says Carrie Cline, Senior Product Manager at Inline Plastics Corp.
“A study by Clemson University and funded by Klockner Pentaplast of America found products in clear plastic clamshell packaging are more than 400 percent more attractive to consumers than identical products in printed paperboard boxes.”
Transparent packaging allows customers to see the quality of a product, reinforcing their purchase decision.
A clear window or transparent packaging also allows consumers who are pressed for time to make a quick choice. In the same study by Clemson University, clear plastic clamshell packages were found 40 percent faster than paperboard packages.
Pro Tip: Blocking the view of the food can deter customers from being able to quickly scan and choose a food product. If you are labeling or adding a sticker to your product, it’s best not to cover the window display of the packaging or have the sticker covering the front of your clear container.
Venting System and Anti-Fog Lids
Food which cannot easily be seen through the product packaging causes consumers to glance over it, resulting in lost sales.
Containers that have venting systems and anti-fog lids release steam, preventing condensation and keeping the food visible.
Containers without venting systems allow for the buildup of steam, causing your crisp products to lose their desired texture. Steam will also fog the product window, hiding the attractiveness of the food.
Additionally, lids with condensation buildup may lead consumers to believe your product has been sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time, reducing the likelihood they make a purchase.
2. Long-Lasting Freshness
Ensuring that your grab-and-go packaging preserves your food’s flavor, texture, and appearance under the effects of time and temperature is important to your customer’s satisfaction and your business’ image.
Full Perimeter Seal
A full perimeter seal is a tightly interlocking seal around the entire opening-edge of a package.
A full perimeter seal will keep your products fresher for longer.
Increasing the shelf-life of your products can help you reduce the amount of shrinkage your business experiences as a result of spoiled food.
Tightly sealed packaging can also help give customers the confidence of a tight, leak-resistant seal. Customers transporting their meal want assurance that it is not going to spill.
Some consumers are attracted to meals or snacks in packaging which has the benefit of being able to be opened and resealed for later snacking.
Resealable packaging increases the life of a product compared to packaging that cannot be properly closed after its initial opening.
Compartments allow you to present multiple foods all within one container without sacrificing quality or convenience.
Grab-and-go containers with different slots for food items help to preserve the quality of each individual food item by not allowing the different flavors and textures of the food items to mix.
Consumers who are opting for a meal or snack on-the-go are not willing to sacrifice quality or convenience.
If you’re serving prepared hot food, your packaging should enable the consumer to reheat it directly in the packaging when they are ready to eat it.
Cups with Inserts & Lids
To preserve the freshness or maintain the quality of complementary items that need to be served together, use cups with lids and inserts.
Products like vegetables and dip or yogurt and granola, which offer convenience when served together but lose their desired flavors or textures when combined, should be kept separate until consumption.
Clear plastic cold cups paired with an insert and lid will give customers a good view of what is being served, keep the products separate, and still provide consumers with convenience.
4. Improved Safety
Tamper evident packaging gives consumers peace of mind.
Packaging that clearly shows if it has been tampered with or previously opened can warn a consumer that the item they have chosen may not be in its original condition.
5. Environmentally Friendly Options
Trends in sustainability may have your customers expecting environmentally friendly products and sustainable processes in your day-to-day operations, including your grab-and-go packaging selection.
Choosing sustainable packaging over other alternatives can display your business’ efforts to safeguard the environment, ultimately making your business look better and growing your customer base.
Green Grab & Go
Grab-and-go packaging is available in a variety of sustainable materials offering several green disposal options.
Keeping in mind the important features mentioned above, such as package clarity and a full perimeter seal, green grab-and-go packaging shouldn’t sacrifice these desired characteristics.
Sustainably Harvested Materials
Products that are made from post-consumer materials help reduce the amount of raw or virgin materials used in products that may only be used once before ending up as trash.
Molded fiber is generated from post-consumer materials such as paperboard, corrugated cardboard, or newsprint.
Choose products that can “close the product loop” and can be reused, recycled, composted or turned into energy.
Plastic containers can be made from recycled plastic, such as PET. PET is also one of the most widely accepted plastics by curbside recyclers, allowing for easy recycling after use. Additionally, PET products can also provide great package clarity and a full perimeter.
With no signs of slowing growth in the grab-and-go food trend, business’s should seek attractive and functional display containers that will promote product freshness to consumers.
Imperial Dade keeps up with the latest grab-and-go packaging trends to ensure your prepared foods are marketed in the most appealing way to keep your customers happy and to help you grow your food sales. If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, we have a wide variety of to-go containers that will meet your packaging needs.
Balancing the appearance, function, and cost of your on-the-go packaging can be complicated. Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist for a review of your current foodservice operation and knowledgable product recommendations to best fit your budget and needs.