Packaging Function: Protecting Pets and Their Food

One of the most important considerations for pet food packaging is function. That is, how well the package will house, transport and protect the product, and how long it will keep the product fresh. Functional packaging is crucial for any product, but can be especially critical for pet food brands navigating new products and markets. Raw, freeze-dried and fresh pet food in particular are all still relatively new in the marketplace, and, while consumers want to feed their pets high-quality ingredients, they are also concerned about contamination and foodborne illness. Packaging barriers can help reduce the risk of contamination from outside sources while preserving product integrity, both of which are crucial to pet health and the consumer experience of your product. 

That makes packaging materials, research and development, and regular barrier testing particularly important in your processes. The right custom pet food packaging company can help you navigate these functional considerations and others, such as how to protect your product in e-commerce. Contact us to learn more about packaging formats for novelty pet food products.

The Message: Custom Pet Food Packaging Tells a Story

In addition to its function, custom pet food packaging offers another key benefit: storytelling. Consumers want to know about the food they’re feeding their pets, but that goes beyond an ingredients list or guaranteed analysis. Like the food they eat themselves, pet parents increasingly want the story of the food — where it came from, how it was produced, whether it is sustainable. They also want feeding instructions, particularly for novelty products that they aren’t used to feeding their pets (such as fresh food).

In terms of attributes, according to Nielsen IQ, as animal lovers, pet parents naturally gravitate to claims such as “humane,” “ethical,” and “cruelty-free.” In fact, certified humane pet products grew substantially in sales over the past two years (110%), accounting for $11 million in sales. Products labeled as ethical grew 48% to $11.7 million and “cruelty-free” products increased by 10%, according to the same article.

Like other sectors, sustainability is top of mind for pet food consumers. According to Nielsen IQ, sales of products with recycled packaging grew 40% in the last two years. Mintel also notes that pet food brands will need to prioritize sustainability as concerns about packaging waste continue to grow. Mintel advises that brands will also need to guide consumers on what makes their products sustainable and how to recycle the packaging. 

How can you communicate your values to consumers? Use your packaging to tell a story.

Whether your product falls under one of the above categories or includes other claims, like “grain-free,” “made in the U.S.A.,” “whole animal protein” or something else, custom pet food packaging can make these talking points prominent. For example, with larger side panels, standup pouches can offer more space to tell your story than a traditional pouch. You can also use tactile features, dual finishes and visual callouts to play up important attributes.
Pet Food Packaging samples

Messaging isn’t the only way to communicate your story, however. Packaging format, customization and the consumer experience also tie into the larger narrative of your brand. Sustainable packaging, for example, gives you another way to follow through on your values. Closures communicate that you care about preserving freshness and maintaining product integrity over multiple uses. Learn more about packaging for the consumer experience.

Visual Appeal: Standing Out With Custom Pet Food Packaging

As more premium pet food brands and products emerge, visual appeal will become even more pivotal in catching consumers’ attention. Attractive packaging is still one of the biggest influences on buying decisions, and it provides yet another opportunity to educate consumers on your unique selling points and brand story. 

In a recent study on packaging design and its influence on consumer buying decisions, Nielsen BASES used eye-tracking and real-time brain response data to investigate conscious and unconscious behaviors as consumers shopped. BASES found that “packaging must do a unique job throughout every phase of the consumer journey.”

Fortunately, printing and packaging technologies offer countless ways to customize your pet food packaging, from bold color schemes and dynamic finishes to understated touches that create a premium feel. 

Other custom pet food packaging features can include:

  • Infinite edges: Ensure your graphics reach the edges of your packaging. 
  • Product windows: Let pet parents see the real product inside the package. 
  • Rounded corners: Show you care about the finer details of packaging by customizing edges.
  • Dog bone-shaped closures: Offer a stronger flap for opening and closing the package (while reinforcing the product type).

Coupled with compelling messaging and effective function, visual design only strengthens the attractiveness of your product.

Get Started With Custom Pet Food Packaging

No matter where you are in your pet food brand’s journey, Belmark is here to help. Our research and development experts can help you engineer a package that works for your pet food, keeping the right amount of moisture and oxygen locked in (or keeping it out). We also offer Launch™ Prototypes to help you see how your pet food packaging will look and feel on the shelf. And, with no order minimums and a lead time of three weeks or less, you’ll also be able to get your custom pet food packaging when you need it, improving speed to market.

Contact Us About Custom Pet Food Packaging

To get started today, contact our Welcome Home Team!
Direct line: 920-764-5133
Meet the team: Kelsey, Peter, Annie, Cody, Jamie, Troy