The COVID-19 pandemic has affected several aspects of restaurant takeaway/to-go packaging, impacting consumer preferences, and limiting packaging options. Restaurants are under pressure to provide sustainable packaging even as the pandemic has made this more difficult to attain due to scarce materials and increasing demand.
1. Minimalistic/Plain Packaging
- US restaurants are adopting a minimalistic design for their take-out meal packaging. Taking a cue from the trending simplicity of websites and book covers, takeaway packaging is becoming less cluttered and more modern.
- The increasing popularity of minimalistic design packaging is due to its low cost and environmental friendliness. In the wake of the pandemic, many restaurants have reported that the cost and quality of takeaway packaging have been a major concern. Therefore, a less complicated design will help reduce costs.
- With a minimalistic design, restaurants can leverage the extra design space in “communicating their core message” to customers.
- Simple packaging is also material savvy and gives the brand a high-end image through a “no-nonsense, no-frills” approach.
- Restaurants can now get ahead of the curve by ridding their take-out packaging of irrelevant information, designs, colors, fonts, and graphics. This will make the packaging appear less cluttered and communicate the right message to customers, illustrating what the brand cares about or stands for.
- Many consumers became eco-conscious this year, and restaurants are adjusting and catching up with this trend. Restaurants are under pressure from consumers to adopt 100% renewable or recycled packaging. McDonald‘s, for example, will adopt 100% sustainable packaging by 2025.
- The pandemic has further aggravated the situation with increasing environmental awareness amongst consumers. However, COVID-19 has made it difficult for restaurants to keep up with their sustainability goals.
- The increased number of takeaway and deliveries during the pandemic resulted in the scarcity of food packaging. In the first few months, factories were closed, and raw materials were unavailable. Laws and ordinances on sustainable packaging were relaxed around the US due to safety concerns and to meet up with the demand.
- Consumers are significantly more attracted to brands with sustainable practices. Not only do consumers want sustainability, but they also want transparency. About two-thirds (64%) of American consumers prefer products with “sustainable packaging and clear labeling.”
- While adopting recyclable and sustainable packaging, restaurants can win over eco-conscious customers who prefer biodegradable, eco-friendly, and edible packaging.
3. Convenient Packaging
- Consumers are constantly looking out for convenience in choosing their preferred brands. The same applies to food take-out and delivery. The demands of everyday living have become enormous, and consumers are seeking suitable options.
- The takeaway and delivery options were available for the sake of convenience before the pandemic. However, during the pandemic, it became a matter of necessity. With more restaurants offering take-out and delivery options, restaurants will have to make their takeaway packaging more appealing and convenient to prospective customers to stay ahead of the curve.
- Modern convenient packaging for takeaway meals should be lightweight, easy to carry, and resealable. This way, the food pack will be convenient to move around, and the consumer will not have to finish their meal at once or waste any leftovers.
4. Tamper-Proof Packaging
- The advent of the Coronavirus has emphasized the importance of properly packed tamper-proof or tamper-evident meals. Consumers are demanding tamper-proof/evident packaging to ensure that their meals are safe and healthy.
- Take-out and delivered meals are often exposed to touch as they are passed around before being consumed. Consumers need to be confident that the meals are adequately packed and protected from air, moisture, and touch until they are consumed. This way, customers are certain that they are not at risk of contracting the virus.
- Tamper-proof packaging can help prevent tampering by making it apparent that the product has been tampered with even before it leaves the restaurant. Tamper-evident packaging, on the other hand, only makes tampering evident after it has been purchased, and the consumer attempts to open it.
- A survey conducted by US Foods in 2019 revealed that 30% of food delivery drivers eat from the food they deliver. With tamper-evident packaging, consumers will notice if the seal on their meal has been broken.
- Restaurants are providing solutions to meet up with the demand for tamper-proof packaging. One of such solutions is the tamper-evident label, TamperSeal, which comes with security slits “that cause the label to lose its integrity if someone attempts to open the container.”
- Tamper-proof packaging is preferred because it promotes product safety, reduces the risk of damaged products, protects customers, and increases customer loyalty and trust.
- Other forms of tamper-proof packaging are shrinkwrap, stretch wrap, tamper-evident tape, and tamper-resistant plastic strapping.
5. Personalized Packaging
- According to a report by Touch Bistro, personalized packaging is expected to gain traction as the pandemic continues. With the increase in take-out and deliveries, restaurants may face difficulty in communicating directly with customers. However, with personalized packaging, they can reach out to consumers and appreciate them.
- Through personalized packaging, restaurants can show that they care and forge a strong emotional bond with their customers.
- Packaging with personalized messages makes each customer feel special and appreciated. An excited customer may even share photos that will serve as free marketing and advertisement for the restaurant.
- Restaurants can stay ahead of the competition and boost sales through personalized packaging. This creates an avenue to connect and interact with customers.