To capture consumer attention and increase market share, dairy packaging must convey more than the classic designation of whole, skim or 2%. Today’s consumers are interested in food and beverages they perceive as wholesome, nutritious, sustainable and customized to meet their specific lifestyle needs. Dairy brands are being forced to rethink their product lineups in response to these trends. The good news is, as an ingredient, milk is already well-positioned to take advantage of these demands.
Customized beverages that suit a variety of needs and consumption occasions
Consumers are stocking their refrigerators with beverages that meet their nutritional, ethical and lifestyle needs. Dairy can respond by offering a wider variety of products customized to suit a variety of consumers, from the athlete looking for a high-protein drink to parents wanting a nutritious offering for their toddler. Value-added dairy is just starting to take hold in the U.S., with the addition of vitamins, extra protein, omega-3 fatty acids and DHA.
Smaller package sizes appeal to these consumers, who want several types of dairy beverages in their fridge as opposed to a single jug of skim for the family. Smaller packaging also comes into play with consumers who want to take beverages on the go or consume them as a snack rather than a thirst quencher. It makes beverages more convenient and curbs any chance of over-consumption.
In addition to preserving the quality and integrity of the product within, packages must also stand out in the aisle or chilled case. On average, consumers spend just 12 seconds looking at products before making a decision, giving brands very little time to make an impression. Updated packaging can provide fresh opportunities for dairy brands to make bold statements and differentiate themselves.
Clean labeling and product transparency
With one simple ingredient on the label, milk is the original “clean label” beverage. This trend toward transparency and clean labeling can work in dairy’s favor, as milk is a very easy product to understand. Everyone knows where it comes from and its nutritional value. Milk also lends itself well to enhancement, offering a base for added-value ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and extra protein.
Packaging can go a step further by telling a story about your company and the product you’re selling. What is your brand ethos? What are your values? We know consumers are interested in the origins of what they are consuming, so on-package messaging should communicate exactly what went into their dairy beverage.
Sustainable products with minimal environmental impact
All points on the supply chain are important to create a sustainable product, but no part is more visible than packaging. In a recent Carton Council survey, 56 percent of respondents said their loyalty to a food or beverage brand is impacted by the brand’s engagement with environmental causes.
There are two considerations when it comes to environmentally friendly packaging: The resources required to make it and what can be done with the package once it’s used. Using packaging made from renewable resources like paperboard or bio-based plastics can add shelf appeal and signify a product’s sustainability.
In addition to choosing packages made from renewable materials, brands can leverage their packages to communicate the actions they are taking to reduce their impact, thus reinforcing the brand and offering opportunities to connect with consumers.
Safe products that have a long shelf life
According to Mintel, three in five Canadians and two in three Americans say they’d be interested in packaging that keeps food longer, indicating shelf life is important for a majority of consumers. A stocked pantry with a variety of products, including shelf-stable milk, means fewer trips to the grocery store. It also means less product wasted due to spoilage.
Aseptic packaging gives consumers the flexibility to stock up on dairy and store it in their pantries until they need it. It’s a trend the industry should also embrace, as it reduces logistics costs and is better for the growing grocery e-commerce market.
Dairy has been an integral item on grocery lists for years. Paying attention to trends and delivering innovative products in packages designed to give consumers the experience they demand can position dairy on the leading edge of beverage innovation and maintain its position as a dietary staple for the whole family.