5 Packaging Design Best Practices for Food Businesses


Running a food business is not just about manufacturing high-quality products to match the palates and preferences of consumers. It is also about choosing the right packaging materials and techniques to ensure visual aesthetics, integrity, and safety of the components.

Further, business owners should also consider factors like functionality, sustainability, and regulatory compliance.

Not surprisingly, food packaging is a big business, with a global market size of $479.73 billion in 2023. Every enterprise in the industry, whether selling daily, poultry, seafood, or processed products, requires optimal packaging solutions.

The good thing is that they have the option to customize the solution to address their unique needs and challenges.

In this article, we will highlight a few packaging design best practices for food businesses.

Prioritize Functionality and Practicality

Functionality is the first thing you should consider while choosing packaging material for your product. Look for one that prevents damage, spoilage, and contamination during transportation, handling, and storage.

Foam Factory, Inc. notes that cell foam is a good example of food packaging as it is resistant to microbes, chemicals, and vapor transmission.

Business owners can consider brands like Volara foam solutions for versatile applications for food packaging. Since foam is flexible, it can help optimize packaging materials and formats for various products.

Moreover, it can be customized to accommodate diverse distribution channels such as food service establishments, retail shelves, and e-commerce platforms.

Practicality is another factor to consider while selecting a food packaging material and design. Anything easy to open, portion-controlled, and resealable enhances user experience and reduces food waste.

Focus on Visual Appeal and Branding

Research shows that the visual elements of snack food packaging can influence a buyer’s decision. Besides enticing consumers, it can also boost brand awareness through consistency in marketing materials.

Food businesses should create visually appealing designs that resonate with the target audience. Additionally, they should communicate the brand identity, values, and product attributes.

Using color psychology, imagery, typography, and branding elements can help differentiate products from competitors, evoke emotions in consumers, and create a memorable brand presence on store shelves. When it comes to branding via design, consistency across product lines and packaging formats is essential.

Consider Sustainability and Environmental Impact

According to a recent McKinsey survey, nearly half of American consumers are ready to pay more for sustainable packaging.

Digging the numbers deeper, the survey shows that 50% of consumers will pay 1-3% more, 25% will spend 4-7% more, and 12% will pay as much as 7-10% extra for such products. Sustainability is even more important in the F&B segment.

Businesses should choose eco-friendly materials, such as recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable options to reduce their environmental footprint and support circular economy initiatives.

As a best practice, they must optimize design to minimize excess packaging, reduce material usage, and ensure lightweight and space-efficient formats.

They must also adopt initiatives to educate consumers about eco-friendly packaging choices and promote responsible disposal practices. It is a way to do their bit to encourage recycling and minimize environmental pollution.

Ensure Regulatory Compliance and Food Safety

Food manufacturers in the US are responsible for marketing safe foods. The responsibility goes beyond ethics and values but is a regulatory obligation.

The FDA regulates the safety of food ingredients and substances that come into direct contact with products. These include packaging materials, making regulatory compliance a priority for businesses.

Compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards is essential to protect consumer health, prevent penalties, and uphold brand integrity.

When choosing materials, businesses should conduct thorough risk assessments to validate their compatibility with food products. The material should ensure food safety by preventing contamination and microbial growth.

Providing accurate and transparent labeling information such as ingredient lists, nutritional facts, storage instructions, and allergen warnings is another essential step. It enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Go the Extra Mile with Innovation

Food businesses should not take a set-and-forget approach to packaging designs because there is always a scope for improvement. A continuous improvement mindset can help them stay ahead of market trends, consumer preferences, and technological advancements in packaging materials, formats, and techniques.

For example, smart packaging solutions with QR codes and NFC tags can enhance consumer engagement and product traceability. Innovation keeps a business agile and adaptable to respond to regulatory changes, industry disruptions, and consumer feedback. It also enables them to maintain relevance and competitive advantage.

In conclusion, effective packaging design can be a game-changer in the food industry, where safety and integrity matter the most. Choosing the right materials and designs is crucial to maintaining freshness, hygiene, and quality of the packaged products.

Business owners should commit to adhering to best practices to enhance consumer satisfaction and stay on the right side of compliance.