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The ultimate guide to food & drinks packaging

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Welcome to your guide to food and drinks packaging, our second instalment in the Ultimate Packaging Guide collection. This guide covers everything you need to know about food and drinks packaging, from learning the difference between certain food and drinks packaging materials, to knowing how to design food and drinks packaging your customers will love.

Here at Belmont Packaging, we are extremely proud of the work we do, and that’s why we have been trusted by a huge range of food and drink brands for over 40 years. Our experienced team works with you from concept to completion and won’t stop until we deliver the perfect custom food and drink packaging that makes your brand stand out from the rest.

Within this guide we share with you the exclusive knowledge and experience we have gained over the years, as a trusted food and drinks packaging supplier.

Chapter 1: Getting started with food & drinks packaging

What is food & drinks packaging?

The main purpose of packaging is to provide protection, and when it comes to food and drinks packaging this factor is extremely important.
Choosing a durable, versatile, and protective packaging material will guarantee your products are secure and your customers are satisfied.

The food and drink industry has adapted and although protection will always be an important factor, it is key to remember that packaging is the main interface between you and your customers. Custom food and drink packaging can have a huge positive impact on purchasing decisions and increasing repeat orders.

Food and drinks packaging can appear in many forms such as; bottles, wraps, containers, sealable bags, and cardboard boxes.

Why do we need food & drinks packaging?

The goal of food and drinks packaging is to contain and protect food and drinks products in a cost-effective way; that satisfies industry requirements. In addition to this, we also need food and drinks packaging for other reasons such as an opportunity to make your brand instantly recognisable.

Every business wants to protect their products to ensure they arrive at their customers as they should. High-quality, custom packaging has the opportunity to market and sell your products itself; whilst providing the protection your products deserve. Innovative designs and sustainable packaging choices can help you get the most out of your packaging whilst exciting your customers.

So, let’s take a look at some reasons together in more detail…

Advantages of food and drinks packaging

  • Prevents damage during transport
    No matter how long, or how far the journey your products may be taking is, it is important to make sure that your packaging will protect it throughout. No business wants their customers to receive a damaged product, as a result of the packaging, or lack of packaging you chose.

  • Helps you stand out from the competition
    We all know that first impressions matter and your packaging has 7 seconds to make a good first impression. From experience, we know that custom packaging in the food and drinks industry can make the difference you need to stand out and influence purchasing decisions.

  • Provides protection and abides by food safety regulations
    Food and drinks packaging can help display your product in the best possible way. Display and Retail- ready packaging is designed so your products are secure but also look great!

What are the different types of food & drinks packaging?

Just a simple search for food and drinks packaging online provides you with a huge array of information and options. Knowing which is the best type of packaging for you, or even what they mean can be daunting. That’s why this section will run through the different types of food and drinks packaging so you can leave feeling like an expert.

  • Postal & Subscription Packaging

    Postal packaging ensures that your products will be able to fit easily and safely through a UK letterbox. So, your customers don’t have to worry about their parcel being left with a neighbour who may not be home when they go round to retrieve it. It is important to remember that the look and feel of the box matters just as much as its contents. Custom postal packaging can increase excitement when your box drops on your customer’s doormats.

    Take a look at the postal packaging we designed for Cake or Death

  • Shelf Ready & Retail Packaging

    Shelf- Ready Packaging ( SRP) and Retail-ready Packaging ( RRP) refers to the packaging of a product that is delivered to a retailer. SRP is delivered to a retailer as a merchandising unit, which is ready to be placed directly onto the shelves. RRP packaging is also optimised for efficient stocking and sale.

    Custom shelf-ready packaging and retail-ready packaging can showcase your products in a convenient and unmistakable way.

    An example of Shelf-ready packaging which we designed for Beech’s Fine Chocolates. Case study available on our website

  • Transit Packaging

    Our transit packaging solutions deliver your product safely and securely no matter what its size, shape, or weight. Transit packaging ranges from small postal packs all the way to heavy-duty pallet shipping boxes.

    Carrs Pasties required fully branded transit packaging boxes to transport their famous pasties to various retailers across the North West.
    Case Study available on our website

  • Display Packaging

    Display packaging, also known as 'point of sale' displays are extremely popular with retailers and marketers alike. It allows products to stand out in a retail environment and is especially useful for seasonal promotions and a way to boost sales.

    An example of display packaging which we designed for Pop a Ball. This packaging design offers suitable protection, withstands transport, and also makes Pop a Ball stand out from the crowd!

Chapter 2: Designing Food & Drinks Packaging Your Customers Will Love

How to design great food & drinks packaging

Long gone are the days when packaging was considered boring, you should never settle for just “ a brown box”. The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing custom packaging that excites both you and your customers.
In this chapter, we are going to discuss what makes good food and drink packaging design, factors to consider when designing and the most exciting part is how to turn your creative ideas into reality.

So, let’s get started…

What makes good food & drink packaging design?

With more brands than ever before crowding our supermarket shelves, it is now crucial to make sure your packaging design stands out.

Here are three key elements that form good packaging design....

  1. Form and function

    Truly effective new product packaging and award-winning packaging design takes into account both the functionality needed and the form that will facilitate that functionality and provide strong brand messaging which resonates with consumers.

    It is important to remember the purpose of your packaging, as well as how creative the design may look. At the end of the day, the customer is purchasing for the contents and not the packaging. So it is important to make sure the packaging is relevant, convenient, and functional. Although, we love being innovative and creative when it comes to packaging design. It is important to remember that not every product needs a “ out of the box” packaging design as this can quickly turn your ideas into bad packaging designs. For example, when it comes to a cereal box it should be able to stand up on it’s own and for adults and children to hold on to it easily.

    So, we wouldn’t advise changing the shape of this product just to be unique, it is really important to balance both form and function. Your packaging should be useful before it is beautiful.

  2. Strong brand identity
    It goes without saying that to market your products a strong brand identity is vital.
    Every company wants their brand to be instantly recognisable and unique, by creating food and drink packaging that embraces a strong brand identity customers can easily spot your brand amongst a crowded shelf.
    Consistency in branding and packaging fosters brand credibility and trust with your customers, which every company wants right?

  3. Complement the contents
    Clever food packaging design complements its contents. Your packaging design should showcase your product in the best way possible. Award-winning packaging designs entice and excite customers, but it also focuses hugely on convenience and complementing the contents inside to suit the location.
    For example, if your product belongs on an end aisle or display unit within a supermarket. Your packaging should complement the contents, by visibly showcasing its contents and branding by using retail-ready or display packaging options.

What are the main considerations when designing food & drinks packaging?

The food and drinks industry is one of the most competitive industries out there. The huge volume of choices consumers are faced with every day can be overwhelming, that’s why you must consider all the key factors when designing your food and drinks packaging.

  • Getting the graphic design right first time

    Let’s start with graphic design which is hugely important to get right the first time. When done wrong Food and drinks packaging designs can mislead or confuse consumers, drawing them away from your product as a result. When it comes to designing your food and drinks packaging, companies can get carried away trying to think outside the box and be really creative with their design ideas. However, a minimalist and simple design which resonates with your brand story can be way more effective than any other complicated ideas.

    We know from experience that a strong design equals trust. A packaging specialist like Belmont Packaging can help your packaging educate, excite, inform and persuade your target audience.

  • Does your design clearly show your packaging is sustainable?
    The demand for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging is increasing every day, in fact consumers are now willing to pay more for products which they can clearly see are sustainable.
    Therefore, it is important to make visible within your packaging design that your products are eco-friendly as this adds immediate value to your brand.

  • The colour of your packaging says more than you think

    When choosing a colour for your packaging, we know from experience that this decision needs to be considered carefully. This colour shouldn’t just be chosen because you like it or it has always been your favourite colour.
    It is important to think about your target audience and how they may respond to this colour. Colour psychology is hugely important when it comes to consumer behaviour and the impact it can have on purchasing decisions.

    The colour of your packaging needs to project your intended subliminal marketing message and provoke the response and emotion you desire from your customers.

Here is what some of the most commonly used colours may say to your customers:

  • Blue - Known to be calming, associated with trust and efficiency.
  • Red - Fierce, filled with passion and excitement
  • Green - Associated with nature, soothing and sustainability
  • Yellow - Extremely emotional and cheerful
  • Black - A sense of luxury, elegance and a premium brand

Choosing the colour of your packaging can be equally important as choosing your ingredients

What does the shape of your packaging say about your brand?

The shape of your packaging is a significant factor when it comes to design. If your packaging is difficult to open or hold, then it can spoil the overall user experience massively.

It is important to find a packaging design that complements your contents but also allows easy access, security and builds a positive experience.

Packaging shape, specifically for bottles, has been seen to have an effect on brand perception among customers.

Where to find food and drinks packaging ideas

So, now you understand the benefits of food and drinks packaging it is important to know where to look for new packaging ideas.
Just like a number of industries, trends change quickly across the food and drinks packaging sector. But we have collated a number of sources which you can visit to stay up to date with the latest trends and create unforgettable packaging.

  • Pinterest - Search for food and drinks packaging, sustainable packaging design, creative packaging ideas
  • Canva
  • Behance
  • 99designs
  • Instagram - #packaging #creativepackaging #packagingdesign
  • Belmont Packaging Gallery and Case study page

How to turn your food & drinks packaging ideas into a reality

Our experienced team of designers will consider all your requirements from concept to completion. We use state-of-the-art equipment and software, we can work with you to create an innovative and functional subscription box, shelf-ready, retail-ready or transit packaging solution for your product.

We provide corrugated packaging solutions for many different sectors, including but not limited to, footwear and fashion, food and drink and health and beauty.

How it works

  1. Typically, customers send samples of products required to be packaged or a picture with full measurements.
  2. We'll provide a quote based on the quantity required with a breakdown of costings
  3. Supply your artwork and work with our skilled design team to create imaginative and innovative packaging, unique to your products!
  4. We'll pop you over a plain sample of your packaging for you to approve.
  5. Once you've approved your packaging, we'll manufacture and deliver your beautifully finished packaging.

Chapter 3: How to package food & drinks product

Choosing the right type of packaging for food & drinks products

Not one box fits all food and drinks packaging, you must understand the different types of packaging available to you in order to make the right choice. For example, if you deliver brownies in the post of course postal packaging is the right choice for you. There are always custom-packaging options available to suit your needs.

So, let's start by explaining the different types of packaging we supply...

  • Subscription box packaging for food & drinks products

Subscription packaging is made from corrugated cardboard and is a great opportunity for personalising your packaging.
The demand for subscription packaging is booming and there seems to be very little we cannot have delivered to our doors. Subscription box packaging is a great option for food and drink brands wanting to offer the ultimate unboxing experience.

Advantages of subscription packaging

  • It creates a more exciting experience for your customers
  • Build brand recall
  • Social media friendly content
  • Helps to increase the chance of a loyal customer base

We have supplied a number of large food and drinks brands within subscription packaging solutions. Such as Berrymans Sweets who approached our team with the goal of creating a custom subscription box that was bold and distinctive to deliver their confectionery.

You can find out more about Subscription packaging and our work with Berrymans Sweets by visiting our case study page

  • Retail and shelf-ready packaging for food & drinks products

Custom shelf- ready packaging and retail-ready packaging can showcase your products in a convenient and unmistakable way. Retail and Shelf-ready packaging is perfect for food and drinks packaging wanting to stand out in a retail environment

Advantages of Retail and Shelf-Ready packaging

  • Ships more securely
  • Stocking your products is easy for retailers
  • Essentially free advertising space for your brand
  • Customers can identify from a distance
  • Improves product appearance

We were approached by the global snacks group New World Foods, Kings Elite Snacks who specialise in protein snacks. You may recognise their branding from well-known supermarket shelves such as Tesco and Asda. We produced a set of four striking prints of single size-shelf ready packaging which allowed this brand to claim their rightful place on the supermarket shelves.

You can find out more about our work with Kings Elite Snacks and other food and drinks brands on our case study page.

  • Transit packaging for food and drinks products

All types of transit packaging such as shipping boxes, outer cartons, transport outers are generally made of cardboard and corrugated board. They are designed so that goods reach the recipient undamaged.

Why is it important to use transit packaging for food and drinks products?

  • Makes transport possible
  • Protects your goods and your reputation
  • Conveys important information
  • Makes storage possible
  • Helps sell your products

Getting the packaging wrong can have detrimental effects on your business. Damaged packaging is obviously going to be returned, which can cause further issues in regards to complaints, negative reviews and processing refunds.

It is important to know if:

  • The branding on your transit packaging gives the right impression
  • Your goods fit securely within your packaging
  • Your packaging is the right weight for the journey
  • Your packaging is strong enough for transit

Here are some examples of transit packaging for food & drinks products. You can view more of our packaging designs on our gallery page.