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5 Types of Food Packaging to Maximize Shelf Appeal


When it comes to the shelf appeal of food products, the right packaging can make all the difference.

In this article, we break down five different types of food packaging and how they can help deliver a satisfying customer experience.

Starting with a brief overview of some common materials used in food packaging, we proceed to discuss five of the most important packaging features for boosting shelf appeal across an array of different products with unique needs.


Food Packaging Materials

Each material has its own pros and cons, and the optimal choice depends on achieving a careful balance of cost and features to deliver the greatest possible value to the end consumer.

  1. Wood-Based Products (Cardboard and Paper): while low-cost, lightweight, and recyclable, paper and cardboard packaging can be easily damaged and provide minimal protection against contamination. While not suitable for most wet foods, paper packaging often plays a key role as a secondary packaging material (like a cereal box containing a vacuum-sealed plastic bag).
  2. Metals: one of the longest-standing options for food packaging, metals like tin, aluminum, and steel are highly rigid and provide excellent protection,  pest resistance, and recyclability. While some metals are prone to corrosion, protection layers or corrosion-resistant materials like aluminum can solve this issue. However, metal packaging is a relatively high-cost option.
  3. Glass: aesthetically pleasing, hygienic, and well suited to long-term storage, the most important disadvantages of glass are its expense, weight, and highly brittle nature.
  4. Ceramics: non-corrosive and biodegradable, ceramics are limited by their expense, fragility, and food safety concerns.
  5. Plastic Packaging: one of the most diverse material categories for food packaging, plastics can provide widely varying features depending on the polymer and manufacturing process employed.

Some of the most common plastics employed in food packaging include PET, HDPE, and PP. We take a deeper look at common varieties of plastic and how they affect shelf life here.


Key Capabilities When Packaging Food Products

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for food packaging, and sourcing the right packaging for a food product requires thinking through the specific capabilities that will help deliver a quality product to consumers while showcasing that quality on the shelf.

Sourcing the right packaging is critical for:

  • Keeping contents free from contamination, preserving freshness, and prolonging shelf life.
  • Providing an attractive container for customers.
  • Protecting the contents from tampering and damage.

We outline some important options to consider below.


Food Product Packaging Examples

The capabilities and features highlighted below may be mixed and matched depending on a product’s unique needs.

One: Transparent Packaging

The transparency of a food container can be an important factor in allowing consumers to see the quality of the food inside, while an unexpectedly opaque or murky appearance may affect the perception of quality, depending on the specific product. 

Sourcing the right plastic material is important for achieving the desired clarity. While recycled materials (see below) may affect the appearance of packaging in some cases, materials like PET offer a 100% recyclable option that is strong and clear.

Two: Tamper-Proof Packaging

Tamper-resistant containers employ features such as tear strips to seal food from anyone but the intended customer. In addition to protecting the freshness, safety, and appearance of food, a tamper-resistant design can help reduce the need for additional packaging elements such as shrink wrap or film sealing.

Learn more about Fresh N’ Sealed Tamper Resistant Containers

Three: Microwaveable Packaging

Microwaveable food has been a growth market for many years and shows no sign of slowing down for the foreseeable future. The right packaging is important for allowing a customer to safely heat their food, reheat the leftovers, and provide the right sealing for a quality heating process (all while preserving an attractive appearance).

We take a deeper look at the most elements of microwave-safe food packaging here.

Four: Sustainable Packaging

Sustainability is a growing imperative for businesses and a growing focus for many consumers browsing the shelf. Today, there are more alternatives than ever for employing recyclable food containers that can directly contribute to meeting ESG goals and achieving a more circular economy.

The precise priorities for recyclability depend on the material in question. For plastics, the ability to incorporate different mixes of PCR (Post Consumer Regrind) plastic gives food producers flexibility to improve sustainability for food-safe packaging without compromising aesthetics. 

For example, Lacerta provides a minimum of 10% PCR material across all of our PET packaging products through our ReCERTA offering, with custom mixes available on request.

Five: Flexible Size and Shape Packaging

From dry to liquid, small snacks to party servers, food products come with a variety of different demands for food packaging. Employing a fit-for-purpose container that is properly sized for the product inside is one of the most important steps for ensuring optimal shelf appeal. An undersized container risks squishing the product inside, while an oversized container can cause a portion to appear undersized.

The diverse range of packaging today makes it easier than ever to source containers that provide the right-sized option for every product. For example, Lacerta offers a wide range of food packaging options including:

Learn More About Options for Plastic Packaging

Plastic products and packaging offer unique benefits for consumers, but sourcing the right materials and packaging products is important for maximizing shelf appeal while improving sustainability.

If you need help identifying the right plastic packaging solution for your food product, we encourage you to ask one of our packaging experts here.


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