“We eat first with our eyes.” This is a saying with various origin stories. It doesn’t really matter who said it first, because modern science has proven that it is true. So, how important it is it for food manufacturers to engage consumers with the right packaging?

Various studies have shown that humans rely heavily on their eyes when consuming food. An academic paper in the Elsevier journal Brain and Cognition, called "Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation," cites a range of evidence and explores what this means in the modern world, where we’re not foraging for the next meal in the wilderness.

We are currently in an environment saturated with smart devices, social media and hundreds of TV channels. The paper, which is jointly authored by representatives from several universities highlights how this has sparked new food trends

The paper argues that the rise of "food porn" or "gastroporn," alongside the success of celebrity chefs and cooking programs, “has led to an inevitable exposure to visually succulent cooking procedures and beautifully portrayed dishes, often making use of foods that are less than healthy.”

This results in a large proportion of the global population seeking to replicate the effect and create a visually perfect meal. This is why it’s so important that packaging is able to entice consumers with the promise of an Instagrammable dinner.

Snap and It’s Done

According to an article in The Balance by Steve Johnson states that the average home-cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare in the 1940s. Today, "home cooked" takes less than 30. Demand for easy-to-cook, preprepared or even precooked meals is high. the pressure is on for packaging to show products are high quality without mess or fuss and easy to prepare, because the need for speed starts long before we get to the kitchen.

According to research by WebpageFX into the psychology of color, people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of an initial investigation. On top of this, 93 percent of people will choose a product based solely on its visual appearance.

Demand is growing for ready meals that are more nutritious and provide a feeling of being authentic and home-cooked while also being sustainable. A special report by FoodIngredientsFirst found that the zero-waste movement has created consumer awareness around sustainability. incorporating awareness of sustainability of the processes of sourcing ingredients through to the choice of packaging material.

All Wrapped Up

Food manufacturers cannot underestimate the importance of selecting the right material to package their new product lines. If customers are making a judgment in just 90 seconds based on visual appearance, you can’t afford to get it wrong.

Selecting plastic results in a product that looks cheap and will most likely be associated with salt and fat-heavy microwave meals. Aluminium, on the other hand, is a product that looks high-quality, easily facilitates fuss-free preparation and cooking, is highly recyclable and reduces food waste.

According to the European Aluminium Foil Association, Alufoil, the material not only provides an absolute barrier against moisture, light and oxygen to keep food fresh for longer, it also saves far more resources than are consumed in its production throughout the supply and value chain. In addition, 75 per cent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use thanks to its repeatable recyclability.

Working with a flexible manufacturer, you can create bespoke packaging designs that suit product requirements while looking fantastic. This includes  foil trays that are uniquely shaped and designed to ensure the perfect cooked result and trays in a variety of eye-catching colors.

Humans evolved to rely on their eye sight to spot food on the horizon while hunting or foraging. Today, we’re not so different. Eating starts with the eyes, the only thing that has changed is the evolution of the supermarket. Make sure you catch people’s attention with packaging that will make them salivate.