We ran this blog post back in 2013, but we get so many inquiries, we thought we'd do a refresher with some updates...
How does Peter Piper pick
packaging for his pickled peppers? Or how does any foodservice operator pick
their packaging with so many options in the marketplace today? Here are a few
things to consider before purchasing foodservice packaging products:
What’s going in or on the packaging? The item(s) require(s) that the packaging…
- keeps hot items hot
- keeps cold items cold
- keeps frozen items frozen
- needs to be heated, re-heated or cooked in a microwave or oven
- doesn’t absorb grease/juice
- is leak resistant
- has a light or heavy weight/strength
What should the packaging look like? It…
- is a certain color
- is a certain shape
- is a certain size, i.e. single portion versus multi-serving
- has different compartments
- has a base and lid hinged together
- has a base and lid in two pieces
- has different dome or lid options for the same base
- needs to part of a family of packaging options
- is film-sealable or tamper-resistant
- has graphics or printing on it, such as a logo or special design
- has an area for labels, such as nutritional information or heating instructions
What will you do with the packaged item?
- store it in a hot display case
- store it in a cold display case
- store it in a freezer case
- place it under a heat lamp or in a microwave or oven to warm or cook it
- lid it
- stack it
- pack it at an off-site location and ship it to the store
- use with automated equipment
What do you expect your customers will do with the packaged item?
- heat or re-heat it in the microwave or oven
- freeze it
- open or close it several times
- cut and/or eat the items out of the packaging
- travel some distance before consuming the food/beverage
- use it to present foods, i.e. at catered functions
Also, when choosing foodservice packaging, please keep these "dos" and "don'ts" in mind:
- DO consider packaging decisions early on during your menu/program development (correct size, cost, food or beverage/temperature compatibility, image, functions, etc.).
- DO communicate all the features and functions the packaging should have to your supplier.
- DO test samples in actual use, not just dry or empty. For instance:
- Do foods and beverages stay hot or cold enough?
- Do foods and beverages melt the packaging, or make it soggy, etc.?
- Do foods stay separated (if using compartments)?
- Do multiple packages stack well for display and transport?
- Is it leak resistant?
- Is it convenient to eat out of and/or store leftovers?
- DO choose packaging that can be used for multiple applications.
- DO consider using your foodservice packaging as potential advertising for your operation – distinctive packaging with your name or logo will set your product apart from the others.
- DO consider the environmental attributes of the packaging, such as:
- What material is the packaging made from, e.g. does it include recycled content?
- Does the package fit in with your in-store recycling and/or composting programs?
- Will the package be accepted in your local curbside recycling program?
- Do you have a composter in your community that accepts foodservice packaging?
- DON'T just use the low cost option to save money – it can be a liability and/or doom your program to failure. At the same time, don’t overpay for packaging features you don’t need.
- DON'T assume that all foods and beverages can go in the same packaging.
- DON'T assume that custom packaging is the best option. It can be expensive and time-consuming.
- DON'T forget to periodically update your packaging.
Need additional help selecting a foodservice package? FPI created a Strategic Sourcing Guide
to help foodservice operators with this task! Check it out!
Also check out our "Products" section, or contact us! FPI includes approximately 85 percent of the foodservice industry in its membership and can pass along requests for new packaging with the click of an email. Also, to stay up to date on current packaging introductions, sign up to receive FPI’s free newsletter, Packaging Innovations & Insights. Please send all requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.