Snack attack: Portion control and natural aesthetics trend in packaging NPD

Snack attack: Portion control and natural aesthetics trend in packaging NPD

12 Mar 2019 --- Consumer demand for sustainability, portion control and inventiveness are all driving R&D teams to think across multiple axes at once when it comes to developing new packaging designs for the growing snacking market. Some key trends include natural-aesthetic packaging, smart labels and luxury reusable packaging models.

Packaging is influenced by wider trends in the food and beverage industry, as such facets – such as consumer eating behaviors – demand fast-evolving and functional packaging solutions. Innova Market Insights has included snacks on its annual trends list the past two years. For 2019, “Snacking: Definitive Occasions” has been placed as the number five trend. 

Fundamental changes to eating patterns – largely driven by busy lifestyles – mean that the traditional pattern of three meals a day has been giving way to a less formal eating pattern. This is shifting to a more fragmented and flexible eating style, encompassing multiple small meals, often eaten alone or on-the-go and this has increased demand for quick and convenient, yet healthy, solutions for busy lifestyles. The market researcher reported that 63 percent of Millennials are replacing meals with snacks because they report being busy (Consumer Lifestyle and Attitudes Survey, 2018).

“Eat and go”
Busy lifestyles have spurred the proliferation of snack packs that are optimized for on-the-go consumption, or that can be reclosed to promote portion control, enhance freshness and reduce food waste.

Indeed, “fresher for longer” is a claim for which there is growing demand. For the end consumer, this puts control in their hands; they can reseal and save for later without losing the quality of the product. 

Click to EnlargeAmcor's E-Close for easy resealing on snack-packs.Chris Fesen, Marketing Director at Amcor, notes that the company is seeing the sustained growth of reclosing and portioning as consumers become increasingly aware of portion control. They are also seeing snacking as something which happens on-the-go, or as an opportunity to share.

“Functional innovations that are really translating to sales on the shelf today are of most interest. E-Close is one of these. The ability to open and close a pack over and over with an integrated laminate feature allows customers to provide the reclose options consumers are demanding,” Chris Fesen, Marketing Director at Amcor, tells PackagingInsights.

“Our customers can launch E-Close without having to buy a label application machine or run material through a second process, so it reduces the barrier to adapt their packaging to consumer desires,” he says.

In a separate launch, Essentra Tapes debuted Re:Close which can be used on sharing packets and can withstand resealing and reclosing up to 10 times.

The wide resealable tape incorporates an easy-to-use finger lift area that runs along both sides of its length, making it simple to lift away from the pack. Once opened, a pack can be resealed using the Re:Close Tape, securing the contents and helping to ensure their freshness, the company describes.

“If we are to read what consumer trends are suggesting, a resealing function is really important to buyers now and so is having a ‘functional’ package,’ meaning the pack could perform as a bowl, for instance,” Ian Beresford, Head of Marketing and Development at Essentra Tapes, tells PackagingInsights.

It also can carry promotional campaigns and messages, which can be useful for companies who want to communicate their latest promotions and campaigns without the need to overhaul the pack’s designs.Click to EnlargeEssentra Tapes debuted Re:Close which can be used on sharing packets and can withstand resealing and reclosing up to 10 times.

“This combination of consumer choice and convenience, together with the ability to deliver promotional communications and on shelf stand-out, delivers value to packaging. We have received substantial interest from snack brands across Europe and beyond with the complete solution provided by our Re:Close Tape,” he adds.

Sustainability concerns continue to apply
Resealable functions can reduce food waste and are therefore touted as being somewhat sustainable. However, consumers continue to be attracted to packaging solutions that are sustainable in a more obvious way. One such example would be the aesthetics of the packs and the materials used.

Paper continues to be material that is increasingly featuring in NPD, with its natural aesthetic often driving popularity in use.

As noted by PackagingInsights in an investigation into the key trends to expect in 2019, paper will become the “sustainable” material of the year. In 2018, this type of packaging experienced a notable resurgence, fueled by anti-plastic sentiment, with numerous new paper-based and plastic-paper hybrid packaging launches. 

Significantly, paper-based packaging has the added value of appearing and feeling “natural” and provides a good printing substrate with potential for high-quality graphics to effectively communicate brand values and sustainability credentials.

The “natural-touch” effect is proving popular for new packaging designs, a Constantia Flexibles spokesperson tells PackagingInsights.Click to EnlargePaper communicates a natural look which has proven popular with consumers.

“The key trend dominating right now is sustainability and within that, especially the recyclability of packaging. Moreover, that also includes a more natural touch and feel of the packaging. The use of matt and natural colors and shiny, glossy elements as highlights and features such paper-touch or other haptic elements,” they say.

Fesen of Amcor echoes this, noting that the desire for natural and authentic materials means that paper seems to be the winning choice for the endconsumer.

“Paper is seen as delivering the sensory indulgence that consumers are looking for, particularly in more high-end snacks or those healthier options,” he explains.

Although reusable aluminium and PET bottles have been a trend for sometime, a major sustainability jump was seen for reusable models for snacking in an “inspiring innovation” from TerraCycle. Coined Loop, TerraCycle brought packaging innovation in line with the circular economy, Fesen describes. 

Loop is an e-commerce initiative that delivers products to consumers’ homes in washable, reusable containers. After use, the packaging is collected and shipped back to Loop for cleaning and re-use.  

“The concept attempts to move away from disposable or recyclable packaging to durable, reusable, high-end designs – it is certainly an innovation to watch and learn from in 2019,” says Fesen.Click to EnlargeNestlé’s Häagen-Dazs which will be debuted in a reusable stainless steel double-walled ice cream container in the Loop program.

Among the brands taking part are Procter & Gamble (P&G), Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz International, Danone, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lesieur, BIC, Reinberger Nut Butter, CoZie and Preserve. 

Within the companies participating are host of snacking options, including Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs which will be debuted in a reusable stainless steel double-walled ice cream container, designed by Nestlé’s global research and development group in Bakersfield, US.

The recent launch could set a precedent in the food and beverage packaging industry and even lead the way in reusable models for everyday snacking. Loop will be rolled out in Paris and New York in the spring of 2019 and will likely be closely followed by many proponents of reusable options.

What’s next?
A trend that should be closely followed is the desire for consumers to understand more about the products they buy, says Fesen. As consumers demand transparency around the provenance and ingredients in their food, connective packaging technologies can help the industry evolve to meet that demand.

Connective packaging technologies have been growing in applications and popularity, yet 2019 is being touted as the year that they will be deployed at full scale due to the reduced costs associated with the technologies. This is according to experts that PackagingInsights spoke to at Packaging Innovations 2019 last month in Birmingham.

Some experts, such as Maciej Kiryllo, New Business Director of IoT smart packaging innovators Talkin' Things, expect the first full-scale deployments to originate in the pharmaceutical industry. Wide-scale rollouts from FMCGs will follow this.

Technologies that can communicate directly to the consumer via packaging including blockchain, which are being increasingly used for ingredients such as cocoa and nuts – both which feature heavily in snacks. 2019 may be the year that the snacking market gets a technological boost.

By Laxmi Haigh

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