Innovative Food Packaging Trends Sweeping the Industry: From Design to Sustainable Materials

Close up of production process at modern food factory, focus on macaroni bag ready for packaging sliding down assembly line, copy space

The food and beverage industry has undergone major reconstruction, a significant makeover, and a social awakening. Part of that is due to customer demands and an industry that was dragged through the wringer as the world hunkered down. And yet, food packaging cannot stop, nor can it take a break, but it can certainly implement new technologies and innovations to make it better for the consumer. 

So what are some notable food packaging innovations and trends in the last two years? Let’s take a look.

A Look at Food Packaging in History and the 20th Century 

Today, the underlying and fundamental purpose of food packaging is twofold:

  1. Increasing the preservation and the shelf life of the food (to include the facilitation of transportation of said product)
  2. And an opportunity to establish brand identity and recognition among customers.

These two things drive the industry and have created a wide spectrum of packaging possibilities. This has also changed over the years as the way we interact with food has changed. Most people purchase their foods from a food market, grocery store, or warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s. So, since our interaction with food has changed, so has the way we package it. 

A Search for the Ultimate Potato Chip

In the 1950s, a food storage technician and chemist—Frederic Baur— was assigned the holy mission of finding the perfect potato chip. More so than that, his task was the creation of the perfect chip and the ability to package and distribute it. The mission arose after the company Proctor & Gamble received complaints from consumers that the potato chips they got were often stale and broken.  According to the story, Baur nailed the packaging and the shape of the chip but could not quite find the perfect taste. The torch was then passed to Alexander Liepa who found the special ingredient to create the Pringle taste. In 1967, the chips were launched in the United States. The original creator of the Pringle packing tube and stacked potato chip, Frederic Baur, was so proud of his design that he requested his children that some of his ashes be buried in a Pringles tube. 

The story serves as a perfect example of the central role packaging plays in a food company’s success and sales. Fifty years later, the Pringles packaging remains a distinguished part of the chip’s identity. 

Tinning and Discovering the Beloved Canned Good

Packaging, however, played a major role in the expansion of cities and commerce as tinning became a necessary way to package in the 1700s. This innovation led to canning foods, which remains today as a way to stack your pantry with non-perishable items. 

In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a reward for an innovative way to transfer food and preserve it for traveling soldiers. Out of this was born using glass jars and sealing them with wax, as well as glass jars with clamps and replaceable rubber rings. This packaging method is still used today with some homemade jellies and kinds of butter. The real breakthrough didn’t come around until the tin made its way to the general market. 

Then there was shrink wrap or plastic wrap. This too changed the way that food and meat packaging was done, but has—in recent years— raised questions about waste and sustainability. 

And that’s where we are. Society is looking for innovative food packaging methods that reduce waste, keep food fresh, and have an attractive design. 

Food Packaging Trends of the Last Two Years 

As technology advanced, there has been a rise in demand for food delivery and other food preparation services. There is also an interest in sustainability and environmentally friendly processes and materials. So, the food packing industry is finding ways to reinvent itself. Here’s how:

#1 Technology-inspired Solutions

In previous posts, we’ve discussed just how important technology and automation are in improving the efficiency and functionality of food packaging. Artificial intelligence is making its way to the industry. Not only that, but technology is improving the way consumers interact with this packaging. By using things like QR Codes, companies can reach their consumers on the other end. 

#2 Sustainable and Environmentally-friendly packing

Consumers are moving away from wasteful and unsustainable products. So many companies are looking for ways to help the environment or help efforts of recycling and better materials. 

#3 Branding and Story-Infused Packaging 

As mentioned above, packing is an opportunity to interact with consumers and make your company stand apart. It’s a form of branding and with more and more companies operating fully online and as delivery services, branding, attitude, and aesthetics, are essential to brand recognition. 

#4 Keeping it Simple

Just like interior design, fashion, and car design, minimalism is a hot trend today. People seek packaging that is clean, simple, and still manages to get important information across. Less is more, as they say, and this has proven true for a lot of food companies. Simple and clean designs spark interest and catch people’s eyes. 

When It Comes to Innovation and Technology in Food Packaging, Trust the Experts 

Conveyors and Materials Handling has been part of the food handling and food packing business for a long time. Today, we implement the leading technologies and techniques to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. 

Ready to learn about the newest food handling technology? Call Conveyors and Materials Handling today. 

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