A restaurant’s packaging is not just a vehicle for carrying food—it’s a statement that informs customers about your business’s brand and values. According to Technomic, a food industry research firm, 64% of consumers consider high quality packaging an important factor in deciding where to order food (1). And as Alicia McCabe, senior director of Food Packaging Category at Georgia-Pacific Professional, stated, “It’s important for consumers to have a good dining experience, even outside of the restaurant. The packaging is important to meet this need” (2).
A research conducted by US Foods reported that the top complaints from ordering customers included, “food was not warm or fresh” and “food got shaken or messed up during delivery” (3). With more consumers using food delivery services, the demand for better food packaging is stronger than ever. Wrong packaging could mean unhappy customers, bad reviews, and fewer repeat orders. On the other hand, restaurants with innovative, sustainable packaging can increase traffic among consumers.
Here are the top 3 considerations we think you should make when choosing your food packaging:
By quality, we mean that the food packaging should keep foods fresh foods fresh and hot foods hot. It also means that the packaging should allow for easy transport while keeping foods sealed and protected from spills or physical damage. Remember, the goal of food packaging is not just to contain the food that is delivered to your customers, it is to deliver them in a way customers would have gotten had they dined in.
Some basic rules of food packaging are: keeping hot and cold foods separate, placing sauces on the side, and using containers with tight seals (4). Temperature is also a crucial part of ensuring high food quality. With styrofoam losing favor over more environmentally friendly materials, restaurants are turning to new and innovative products like reusable or compostable containers, then relying on insulated bags to keep meal deliveries hot or cold (5).
Even if the risk of contamination or tampering is minimal, packaging experts at Packaging Strategies, suggests that restaurants go the extra mile with packaging so that they can show consumers that your restaurant takes their safety seriously (6). “Attention to detail is vital to protecting your company and your image,” said Chris Bekermeier, the Vice President of Marketing at PacMoore (6). “Food packaging is one of the first things a consumer will notice.”
It goes without saying that the food inside the packaging should be clean and organized, as well as compartmentalized with dividers so that they do not mix during transport.
Unfortunately, off-the-shelf packaging doesn’t always fill the bill. According to Sheri Miksa, president and CEO of Tulsa, Okla.-based Mazzio’s Italian Eatery, “Custom packaging may be needed to be sure the product stays as fabulous once delivered, as when served in the restaurant” (7).
Major brands have addressed this concern by undergoing a packaging redesign. IHOP, for example, unveiled their proprietary IHOP ‘N GO packaging which was designed in a way that appeals to aesthetics while allowing the company’s famous pancakes to fit perfectly into the container right above the bottom compartment of other hot items, strategically designed so that they would keep the pancakes warm (8).
Wagamama, the US-based Asian fast-food chain, has also redesigned its takeaway boxes so that the packaging is segmented—perfect for their signature multi-component meals containing rice, proteins, sauces and multiple garnishes (9).
A Nielsen study reported that consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for sustainable brands (10). This probably explains the trend of previously-recycled and reusable packaging. Such packaging helps relay to your customers your restaurant’s values on being more environmentally responsible (11). It also resonates with younger customers, millennials and generation Z, who are more likely to help market your restaurant via social media (12).
In support of this movement, major Brands have already committed to sustainable packaging over these last few years. For instance, KFC pledged all plastic customer packaging recoverable or reusable by 2025 (13). Taco Bell, too, pledged compostable, recyclable packaging by 2025 (14).
Food packaging as the new differentiator, and it’s more than a simple shipping tool—but an important extension of your restaurant.
“Taste and test; taste and test,” stated Sheri Miksa, president and CEO of Tulsa, an Oklahoma based Italian restaurant. “Use your own product to be sure the delivered product is indeed excellent once received” (7).
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.