What’s Next in Grocery Packaging?

Online food shopping presents a range of packaging challenges for grocery retailers.

The Shift to Online Food Shopping is Driving Innovative Solutions

By Charles Haverfield is a packaging executive with U.S. Packaging and Wrapping

Despite increased demand for online shopping over the last decade, brick-and-mortar grocery stores have remained the dominant way Americans choose to shop for groceries according to a recent report by ChaseDesign.

Since the pandemic, however, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how consumers are prepared to shop. According to a recent study by Adobe, consumer spending on online grocery orders has more than doubled since pre-pandemic levels, now averaging $6.7 billion each month, signalling a significant increase in shoppers looking to obtain groceries from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

For grocery retailers, the shift to online food shopping presents a range of challenges for packaging design. The most pressing is how to transport food safely without affecting the quality of goods. Equally, retailers must not hinder sustainability efforts and ensure there is consistency across products sold.

Retailers can overcome these challenges, and we expect to see these online food packaging trends gain momentum:

Curbside recyclable options

While more brands are becoming aware of sustainable packaging for their primary packaging, very little consideration seems to currently be given to secondary packaging which is essential for helping to preserve foods and products during transportation.

Recyclable secondary packaging options are growing. Brands may take inspiration from the likes of Amazon, for example, which announced last year a change to its packaging of chilled or frozen foods for its grocery delivery services Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market.

The new paper packaging not only maintains cooling conditions for foods requiring chilling and freezing but is also curbside recyclable, creating less waste for customers and improving sustainability efforts. Additionally, the packaging is flexible and lightweight, allowing more grocery deliveries per vehicle and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Improved consistency in food nutrition labeling

Customers expect the same level of quality when buying online as when buying in-store. However, headlines were made after a study found that more than one in 10 products from popular national online retailers did not include nutritional facts or even an ingredients list, while 63% did not disclose common food allergens.

We expect to see more consistency across food labeling, regardless of whether items are bought in-store or online.

More creative packaging design

With fewer people visiting grocery stores and less reliance on store displays to attract buyers, packaging will have to work extra hard to entice buyers online.

Packaging design will need to be thoroughly considered from the outset, not only from a retail perspective but also from an e-commerce perspective to help products stand out online while balancing protective features during transportation.

Strong branding will play a key role here, with greater emphasis on creating a branded experience for consumers through packaging.

About the Author:

Charles Haverfield is a packaging executive with US Packaging and Wrapping. The company is a full-service, packaging supply company headquartered in central Arkansas with shipping warehouses on the east and west coast, we strive for fast and affordable shipping. For more information, visit: www.uspackagingandwrapping.com

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