The Need for More Inclusive Packaging in the Food and Beverage Industry

Take the struggle out of opening every day consumer products

By Brandon Bach, President at CCT

Food and beverage products are used every day by consumers everywhere, but often lack the accessible design needed to accommodate those with disabilities

We’ve all been there before – struggling to open a stubborn jar of pickles, pasta sauce or other favorite food item. Sometimes we call in reinforcements for help, while other times we try opening “hacks” like banging a jar against a hard surface, running it under hot water, or using a grip tool for help. While opening stubborn packaging can be a minor inconvenience for some, there are others with a disability or physical impairment who truly struggle to use common products on a daily basis.

According to the CDC, there are over 61 million adults in the U.S. who live with a disability, not including those with physical impairments such as arthritis or carpel tunnel. With such a large number of consumers who are disabled or physically impaired, there is a need for more inclusive packaging amongst all product types to accommodate a large portion of the market.

Inclusive package design benefits everyone

Inclusive packaging can be defined as packaging that makes products usable by everyone, regardless of age, gender or disability. With this concept in mind, the packaging industry needs to focus on design that benefits everyone. Not only does this cater to the needs of all consumers, but it opens the market up to an additional 61 million consumers for packaging companies, manufacturers, grocers and brands everywhere.

Inclusivity within the fashion industry has taken off in recent years with more and more brands including adaptive clothing options for those who are disabled. In fact, the global market for adaptive clothing is expected to be valued at nearly $400 billion by 2026.

We’ve also seen multiple brands introduce versions of accessible-friendly products, like Degree Inclusive deodorant designed for people with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities, Herbal Essences bio:renew shampoos and conditioners which feature tactile differentiations on the bottom with raised stripes on the shampoo and circles on the conditioner, and Microsoft’s Xbox adaptive controller that creates a great unboxing experience for gamers with limited mobility.

Accessible food and beverage packaging

While all industries should have inclusive options, perhaps one of the most important industries is the food and beverage industry. Food and beverage products are used every day by consumers everywhere, but lack the accessible design needed to accommodate those with disabilities. Take the jar lid, for example. It’s taken over 75 years to reinvent the jar lid to include a more inclusive option for consumers that takes the struggle out of opening jarred foods.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first spread worldwide, we not only saw shortages of food supply, but social distancing also left many seniors or those with disabilities limited resources for assistance with things like opening food products and other packaging. While the pandemic has helped shift packaging priority to include more accessible options, it shouldn’t have to be an afterthought for companies.

Ease-of-use should be a priority

While many industries like fashion and beauty have made strides towards more accessible and inclusive packaging, there are some industries – like the food and beverage industry – who still have a long way to go in opening the market up to thousands of disabled consumers. Beyond a good business practice, consumers everywhere deserve packaging that provides ease-of-use no matter age, gender, disability or physical limitation.

About the Author

Brandon Bach currently serves as the president of CCT, the manufacturer of the EEASY Lid – the first major jar lid innovation in more than 75 years.

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