The culture of food
Today’s food trends, packages and ideas weave a colorful tapestry of convenience and design.
Today’s food culture is made of up of many materials, but most geared toward delivering better for you, and easier to use and consume options. Our hurried lifestyles are not dying down and time-saving tips are appreciated by consumers in every aspect of life – at work, at the gym and in the kitchen.
Designed for greater ease of use, especially when eating tuna fish not at home, Genova Seafood introduces two of its most popular products packed in portable cans with pull-tab lids.
Last year, the release of “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020” urged Americans to eat seafood at least twice a week in place of other protein foods. In response to this and to answer consumer demand for fast recipe preparation and portability (big trends in the food industry), Genova launched this new package format. The product is available in most U.S. supermarkets, clubs (Costco and BJs) and Walmart in 3- and 5-ounce individual cans, and 5- and 7-ounce quad packs.
For easier feeding times for parents around the globe, there is Lovemade™, a new range of readymade organic baby food in Sweden. Packaged in RPC Superfos’s (rpc-superfos.com) injection-molded SuperLock® polypropylene pot, the package offers convenience and barrier properties necessary when dealing with baby food.
Lovemade is the brainchild of Silvia Wulff, a Danish entrepreneur and mother of two. Wulff opted for the SuperLock packaging solution because of its wide diameter lid, because she knows how irritating it can be to feed a baby if the food container is too narrow. The width is the right size for a spoon to easily go in and out when feeding.
While the market for baby food is generally dominated by glass packaging, Wulff believes her package is a worthy competitor, featuring a click-on screw-off lid for easy open and reseal, and transparent packaging to see the contents inside. Plastic’s low weight accounts for reduced transportation costs, as well as environmental impact. The SuperLock pot provides a long shelf life and the pot can be reused multiple times after consumption, as a storage container for food and nonfood items.
A package that can create a positive user experience, as well as protect the contents inside is a win-win for consumers and brand owners, as this encourages repeat purchase.
“One of the biggest trends in the industry is producing packaging that serves multiple purposes. Packaging should still activate a brand and stand out on the shelf, but it is becoming more common for it to serve a second purpose that makes a consumer’s experience with the product more pleasant beyond the purchase. Ultimately, it should encourage the consumer to buy more of that product in the future because of its practicality,” says Paul Nowak, director of customer experience, QuadPackaging (quadpackaging.com).
Feeding the senses
Innovations in pet food have also emerged as consumers place more and more importance on feeding their pets, and feeding them well. The global pet food packaging market accounted for $5,500 million in 2015 and is expected to reach $9,604 million by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 8.29% from 2015 to 2022. Driving the market is an increase in adoption of pets, innovation of food products and an increase in disposable income, according to WiseGuyReports (wiseguyreports.com).
Healthier, organic, non-GMO and all-natural are just some of the buzz words used in today’s premium pet food, and the packaging that goes along with the food is also getting upgraded.
Feeding and treating pets is as much about the experience and the anticipation as it is about the food itself. That thought was top of mind with Purina® when, in collaboration with Zip-Pak (zippak.com), selected Sensus™ for Fancy Feast® Duos treats. This unique sensory closure system provides heightened audible cues each time the pouch is opened, and sealed. As a result, Purina’s Sensus-enhanced package helps deliver a more interactive and engaging experience for pet owners and their cats.
Sensus also works well in a broad range of flexible packaged consumer products, including cereal, granola, salty snacks and detergents, as it aligns with what Zip-Pak has identified as the global trend toward more interactive consumer packaging. The audible sound provides consumers with the assurance of a secure, tight seal that is as important for pet snacks as it is with human snacks.
Another type of food features an audible closure, this time to ensure freshness for feeding wild birds. Velcro Companies (Velcro.com) announces that Wagner’s, one of the largest and oldest wild bird food manufacturers in America, now features VELCRO® Brand PRESS-LOK® closures on select packaging. The tactile, audible, easy-to-use reclosure is ideal for wild bird food and other granular products. It immediately assures customers that the package is securely closed and the contents are contained.
“PRESS-LOK closures create distinction for consumers who have dozens of brand choices in each product category,” says Jurjen Jacobs, vice president of marketing and innovation, Velcro Companies.
The PRESS-LOK hook-to-hook fastener is an exclusive solution that allows consumers to fasten without the need for tedious and precise line-up associated with typical press-to-seal zipper bags. Wagner’s worked with manufacturer Peel Plastic Products Ltd. (peelplastics.com) of Brampton, Ontario, Can. to incorporate the PRESS-LOK closure into the Wagner’s stand-up bag design.
Design makes all the difference
When design meets convenience, it’s a beautiful thing and that’s exactly what one produce company set out to do. UK-based flexible packaging technology innovator Excelsior Technologies (exceltechuk.com) launched a series of new fresh produce packaging solutions at the New York Produce Show in December.
“The fresh produce and on-the-go food sector is one of today’s fastest growing and exciting categories, and we are proud to launch a series of new solutions at this prestigious annual event. We combine innovation with post-harvest science to maximize shelf life on prepared produce,” says Excelsior Technologies sales director Julie Eller.
Grab&Go is an eye-catching, easy to pick up and portable snacking solution. The lightweight and convenient packs deliver a positive consumer experience, and commands attention on shelf. Available fully printed and in a range of substrates, this resealable lunch box alternative makes it ideal for eating on-the-go all day long.
Pouch packaging for snacks and produce is definitely a popular trend in the industry, catching consumers’ eyes, especially with millennials. GAEA Gourmet Olives are the newest innovation from GAEA, and are packaged in clear-view pouch packaging. Packed in a protected atmosphere, resealable, liquid-free packaging keeps the olives fresh and full of authentic Greek flavors – with window-view packaging that allows consumers to see exactly what they are purchasing. According to the company, the package offers a low-atmosphere (nitrogen) package as an alternative to the typical deli containers, which are not shelf stable and do not have a long shelf life once packed. Why the window? Research finds that consumers prefer to see the product live in the package (this trend spreads across several industries).
The company also boasts that olives in pouches are easier to take on the go – they easily fit in a lunchbox or purse.
If convenience is king, branding might be the queen. Several consumer brands have and are undergoing brand revamps to attract a younger audience. Driscoll’s recently rebranded its berries to convey a happy and joyful feel to inspire consumers to eat more berries. We asked Frances Dillard, director of marketing and global brand lead of Driscoll’s what the goal was for the rebrand.
“We uncovered a key finding – that there is a direct connection between eating berries and joy, unmatched by any of today’s most popular fruits or veggies. In fact, a recent survey revealed that more than 85% of consumers agree that eating berries makes them happy. The global re-brand is a direct reflection of this discovery – conveying this emotion and joyous message. We want our visual identity to celebrate the joy that berries bring to people all over the world,” says Dillard.
“Driscoll’s new brand design was inspired by the berries themselves as colorful pop icons of the natural world. The individual colors and shapes of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are captured in a fresh colorful pallet and an expressive typography. While the design approach is updated and modern, it will still be familiar to loyal berry consumers as it maintains the foundational equity colors of green and yellow, and retains the brand tag, Only the Finest Berries™, which speaks to the superior flavor that has earned the brand credibility and trust with consumers. The updated Driscoll’s brand logo reflects a personalized handwritten stylistic approach,” continues Dillard.
The culture of food
So what is trending today in America’s food culture? Several things, actually: from millennials driving change to the rise in healthy eating, on-the-go consumption and specialty food items. Specialty foods and beverages are becoming a larger, more integral part of the American diet, according to “Today’s Specialty Food Consumer,” an annual report from the Specialty Food Association (specialtyfood.com). This survey, produced in conjunction with market researcher Mintel (mintel.com), states that specialty food consumption jumped significantly in 2016 – 60% of consumers, across all age groups, say they have bought a specialty food or beverage in the past six months, up from 47% in 2015.
The purchasing patterns of millennials cover the widest range of categories and the most diverse retail channels. They are the most frequent purchasers of products like chocolates, cookies, coffee, pasta and pizza sauces, ice creams, and salsas and dips. They are also the most likely to shop for specialty foods online – 75% of respondents report doing so.
Perhaps most surprising is that last year men surpassed women as the group more likely to buy specialty foods for the first time, and the gap widened in 2016. And it’s not just in local grocery stores. Specialty food sales in club stores, convenience stores, department stores, home stores and gift stores are all growing.
“Discovering specialty food has become a core part of the younger consumers’ daily shopping routine. They are moving away from the staples that they grew up with and embracing the new tastes and flavors of specialty food,” says Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association. “It seems clear that as the consumer base changes and those consumers’ needs evolve; their shopping choices become increasingly more driven by convenience. Retailers and manufacturers need to stay nimble to cater to them.”
Millennials not only have an inclination toward specialty items, but also toward the convenient and less time-intensive.
“Shopping experiences have drastically changed due to technology dependence and the desire to access information so quickly. The majority of millennials shop with their smartphones in hand, providing easy access to look up components such as promotions, loyalty programs, nutritional information, recipe directions and more. This offers a creative way for brands to capture and push new sales for this generation of shoppers, creating a new medium for brand activation,” says QuadPackaging's Nowak.
The 2016 Trends Report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (fpi.org) reveals key industry shifts that focused on industry changes being driven by the generational influence of millennials. Responses this year showed an uptick in the grab-and-go sector. Ordering online, through mobile applications or via automated in-store ordering stations is increasingly popular.
Changes in preparation and distribution of meals are driving other trends, such as an increased interest in tamper-evident packaging and food safety. In addition, last year’s report also highlights the fact that environmentally-friendly, sustainable, recyclable and compostable packaging are moving beyond trendy to now being a regular part of doing business.
“The biggest trends trickling over into packaging include the idea of being eco-friendly, organic and simple. Many companies are placing more emphasis on ensuring that their product’s packaging can be recycled and that the messaging on the packaging clearly communicates this to consumers. This generally aligns well with the brand message of simple, organic ingredients and supports a consumer’s product choice. Companies that may not have previously thought of diving into the organic and eco-friendly space must now consider this market, as consumer demand is higher than ever before,” says Nowak.
Healthy foods are constantly on the rise and not just with millennials. PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, reports a 25% increase in vegetarian and a 257% rise in vegan global food and drink product launches between Sept. 2010–Aug. 2011 and Sept. 2015–Aug. 2016.
“Increasing consumer demand for more healthful foods and beverages continues to fuel the rise of organic, vegetarian and vegan products,” says Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of Market Development, PMMI. “Meanwhile, growing demand for convenient, on-the-go and single serve options underscores the need for brand owners to accommodate more active consumer lifestyles.”
Today’s food culture includes various trends and lifestyles that are impacting packaging, from eco-friendly to easy to use, convenient, audible openings and specialty items for a colorful array of options. Today’s food culture is evolving and expanding to include something for everyone.