Food packaging and labeling tips for small businesses

Consumers prefer packaging and labeling that offers convenience and the ability to go from the refrigerator to the microwave.

According to the current trends, it is not only a great taste and price that lead consumers to buy your food product. Today, the package and label is becoming increasingly important to consumers. According to a July 2013 Food Packaging Trends report by Mintel, consumers are demanding that your product offer convenience, reuse, and mobility.

So what does that mean for your food product? Offering packaging that is reusable or has the versatility to go from the refrigerator\freezer to the microwave\oven will give you an edge over your competitor, according to Mintel.

As you chose what package to use, consider the following functionality and impressions that consumers have of package types. Use of glass jars, resealable flexible pouches, and plastic tubs appeal to consumers who have an interest in reuse, according to Mintel. In their study of consumer impressions of packaging, they found that consumers associated glass packages with products that were high-quality, fresh, reusable and durable. They also found that consumers associated metal cans and cardboard packages with being recyclable and traditional.

For the consumer aged 55 and over, Mintel found that microwaveable, single serve and re-closable packaging is preferred over other packaging. In addition, Mintel suggests that packaging for this age group will need to be easier to hold and open, offer good nutritional qualities, and have easy-to-read nutrition labeling.

Regardless of the age group, Mintel found that all consumers have a hard time understanding and trusting food packaging health information. To address this, Mintel suggests company’s offer straightforward and easy-to-find labeling information. Some companies are already beginning to offer a color-coded labeling system on their packages to help consumers quickly understand the nutrition facts of their food product.

Food companies also need to pay attention to technology trends. Since mobile technology is growing at a rapid rate and consumers love information at their fingertips, Mintel says that labeling on food packaging will play an increasingly important role in product education and marketing. Creating and displaying links to websites, Quick Response (QR) codes, and Mobile Applications on your labeling will quickly plug consumers into avenues for learning more about your product, says Mintel.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, uses Mintel reports as they provide business counseling for product development and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.