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Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind when Developing New Food Packaging

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Your new food product received rave reviews in market testing, and you can’t wait to share with a broader consumer audience. The world needs to see, taste and smell your product in optimal condition. To bring the best, you’ll need to ensure your product is perfectly matched to a packaging format. Packaging serves as the transporter, marketing billboard space, functional preparation and/or serving device for your food product. Start thinking through your answers to the following 10 questions and be on your way to choosing the best packaging match for your already uh-mazing food!

  1. What is the current material you are using to package the product?     
    Whether you’re already using a certain packaging format or are in ideation, you don’t have to be locked into the current or expected format. Identify product expectations using the following questions and ensure your packaging material is the best for your product.    
  2. What are the temperature needs of the product?     
    Products have different climate needs. Note if your product is in optimal condition frozen, refrigerated or shelf stable.    
  3. What are the shelf life expectations of your product?     
    Nothing puts a damper on a day like reaching for the final ingredient only to find it’s spoiled. Choose packaging that meets or exceeds shelf life expectations for similar products on the market.    
  4. How are you currently testing shelf life?   
    Extending product shelf life benefits consumers and the environment. In the U.S. alone, 40% of the food that reaches retailers and consumers is wasted, according the USDA. By testing how different packaging technologies can extend product shelf life, you can be part of making a difference in the lives of consumers, combatting economic loss and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.    
  5. What kind of automation equipment are you currently using?     
    This is a question that spurs many other questions. Here are some important considerations:  
    • Do you know what lidding material you plan to use? Are there requirements with these? Is the lidding roll stock vs. die cut?
    • Do you have a specification for your lidding material?
    • What are your sealing conditions in regard to temperature, dwell and pressure?
    • What are your cycle rates? 
  6. What barrier requirements do you have? 
    Identify what substances shouldn’t make contact with your product and choose the packaging format with the appropriate barrier properties for product protection. 
  7. What is the temperature of the product when packaging is filled?     
    When going through the food filling process – think food being placed into trays for ready-to-eat meals – note the temperature of the food. The temperature of the food could impact the way it interacts with the packaging and alter the product. Take the food filling process into consideration when identifying packaging for your food. 
  8. Does the packaging have direct food contact? Will it have a primary/secondary package?     
    Some products are placed in packaging inside of packaging. Will this be the case for your product at any point in the journey to the consumer? If so, this will impact decision-making. 
  9. Is sustainability a goal?     
    If your brand emphasizes sustainability goals, make sure the product packaging contributes to reaching brand goals. 
  10. What are your material considerations in addition to technical requirements? 
    In addition to the more technical requirements such as barrier properties, what capabilities does your packaging material need to fulfill? For example, perhaps you need a lot of marketing billboard space to promote your brand or maybe you need a very functional element such as a dual oven-able container.

Thinking through the answers to these 10 questions brings you one step closer to identifying the best packaging match for your food product. But, if you have even more questions, that’s completely normal too. It’s a multifaceted process, and you want the best for your brand! If you want to speak to a forward-thinking, Sonoco team member who can expertly maneuver the market, contact us today.