To be successful, manufacturers and retailers must understand what matters most to consumers and which packaging innovations actually impact consumer behavior, according to "Food and Beverage Packaging Trends in the U.S.," a new report from  Packaged Facts(

Customers listed resealability and easy to open/close as their most valued attributes, confirming the importance of product convenience, according to the report. The ability to maintain freshness was the third-most important.

Less important features include attractiveness of design and realistic image of the product. Only 20% indicated that the ability to microwave in-package is especially important, but that option has grown increasingly popular for frozen foods.

Consumers also want convenience-oriented features in their beverages, the report shows, including packaging that is easy to open and close, easy to pour and serve, and easy to hold. Despite the popularity of single serve and other convenient beverage formats, packaging that makes it easy to eat or drink on the go was ranked farther down the list of preferred attributes. Environmentally friendly packaging was ranked as fairly high in importance, while product freshness remains important, especially for milk, juice and ground coffee.

Innovative packaging is a value-add that can determine product format or brand choice, says David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts. While consumers are not generally dissatisfied with packaging choices, they aren't completely happy with them. Survey data shows that 60% of consumers strongly or somewhat agree that manufacturers often make insignificant packaging changes, while 45% think lighter weight or less bulky packaging is important.

Common complaints across major food and beverage categories include frustrations with package opening and closing, resealing, maintaining freshness, and food safety issues, according to the report.