Its report, ‘Transparent Food Packaging’ (2016), claims almost 40% of US consumers would choose a product over a competitor solely because the packaging allows them to see the contents inside. Food packaging with a cut-out window accounted for 12% of all new carton-based packaging launches in the first five months of 2016 in Mintel’s GNPD, up from 8% in 2013.
Extended shelf life
According to the report author, John Owen, senior food and drink analyst, Mintel, snacks account for more launches than any other food category in Mintel's GNPD and continue to gain ground, rising to more than 17% of all food launches in 2016 from less than 13% in 2010.
The rise in snack product launches is consistent with the growing prevalence of snacking, especially among Millennials, who are more likely than other generations to snack four times a day or more, according to research for Snacking Motivations and Attitudes – US, April 2015.
“Two closely related packaging features, resealability and the ability to keep food from going bad, are the most likely ones to motivate food shoppers to select one product over another, pointing to an opportunity for food brands and retailers to feature packaging designed to extend shelf life and minimize food waste,” said Owen.
“Some three in 10 food shoppers report that they often reuse food packaging for other purposes. However, while many food products note packaging reusability on their labels, only a few promote the idea heavily, suggesting an opportunity for brands to fill a void and to enhance the perceived value of their products.”
Sonoco launched its ClearGuard range of flexible packaging with a clear window called ClearGuard this month for meat snacks, nuts, trail mixes, snack and nutrition bars, cookies and crackers.
“ClearGuard packaging has low oxygen and water vapor transmission rates to protect the food inside and preserve its shelf life,” said Marcy Thompson, VP, marketing & innovation, Sonoco.
“Shoppers want to see the product inside the package, so for products like trail mix, granola and jerky, the challenge is providing transparent packaging while still protecting freshness and quality.”
Different moisture contents
According to Mintel, because Millennials view snacking not just as an indulgence but a source of energy and satiety, there’s an opportunity for packaging designs with multiple components with different moisture contents.
Recent examples of snacks in multi-chamber packaging include Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein Packs, consisting of meat, nuts, and cheese, and Sargento Balanced Breaks, which include cheese, nuts, and raisins.
The report states launches based primarily on new packaging have nearly doubled their share of all launches since 2010, to 29%. Relaunches, which typically consist of significant refreshes of packaging graphics and on-pack communication, often to place greater emphasis on a key benefit, have also increased as a percentage of all launches.
“Plastic is by far the most common food packaging material, growing even more prevalent over the past five years as food manufacturers continue to move away from traditional materials such as glass and metal,” added Owen.
“While food shoppers continue to associate a range of positive attributes with glass, such as eco-friendliness, visual appeal, and effectiveness at retaining freshness, manufacturers recognize that plastic offers advantages as well, including strength and substantially lighter weight, which translates to more efficient shipping. Plastic also translates to greater portability for consumers.”
He did say one thing to note, however, plastic packaging such as bottles, tubs, trays, bags, and pouches tend to get low marks on environmental sustainability, underscoring the continued need for education on the recyclability of plastic food packaging.
As an example of what’s to come, Owen said one area that may not be apparent to food shoppers is the development of barrier-layer materials that block the transfer of oxygen and moisture, extending the shelf life of stand-up pouches, vacuum skin packaging and other common types of packaging.
CleverFoodies Scramble Leafy Greens Mix-In for Scrambled Eggs, Omelets & Frittatas for example, contains spinach, kale, tomato, broccoli rabe, and garlic, and is described as an all-natural mix to prepare scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas. The vegetarian product provides 60 calories per serving, and is free of gluten, preservatives, and added sugar. It retails in a reusable and recyclable 11-oz microwavable pack that is freezer- and dishwasher-safe and bears the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram logos.
Another, more consumer-driven approach is to package food in single-use portions, reducing the chances that some of the food will go unused.