Industry Growth and the Need to Differentiate Your Specialty Food Packaging
The specialty food category has experienced significant growth in recent years as consumers turn to products with limited, clean ingredients and Gen Z has growing interest in the category. According to the Specialty Food Association, specialty food sales grew 9% in 2022, hitting $194 billion. The top 10 categories included specialty snacks, meats, cheeses and breads, among others. That growth is projected to continue, even despite some market challenges, such as inflation.
The specialty food category hinges upon the idea that items are one-of-a-kind, making it essential to set your product apart. As the industry continues to grow, distinguishing your product from other brands and delivering a unique experience will be all the more important. Since your product is, by definition, unique in flavor, ingredients, craft or production, you’ll want to show and reinforce that originality in every aspect of your brand, especially in the packaging.
Often the first point of contact in-store and a continuous touchpoint of a product after purchase, packaging plays a pivotal role in the consumer experience of your product. From keeping your product fresh to appealing to multiple senses, packaging provides function and allure. It’s getting that balance right that will deliver the ideal consumer experience.
Gourmet Food Packaging: What to Consider
Whether you’re a startup who wants to get your packaging right or an established brand debuting products at a food show, you have more options than ever when it comes to structuring your packaging. From format to function to visual design, your opportunities are limitless.
So, where do you start? With your consumer. Think about what your consumer expects from your product (and brand). Consumers of all artisanal products expect quality and novelty, so you’ll want a packaging solution that preserves product integrity and signals that it’s worth the price point. But from there, you’ll want to narrow down what works for your specific product—and your brand story—in both function and aesthetics.
For example, consumers want to see and inspect products like breads, pastas, meats and cheeses. If you’re packaging for these items, you’ll want to choose a format that gives the product center stage, such as clear packaging or a large product window, and focus on the label. With powders, snacks or chocolates, this can be less of a concern, giving you other options to consider. The right packaging supplier can help you navigate these choices and select a format that both protects your product and resonates with consumers.
Additional functional considerations include ease of use for the consumer. The experience of specialty food packaging should be positive, smooth and frictionless. Consider common packaging frustrations—difficulty opening, packaging waste, lack of durability—and avoid them. Consumers will feel even more frustrated with these issues than they would for comparable mass-produced products since they’re paying more and likely using your product for a special occasion.
Beyond function, you’ll want to identify which visual, tactile and aesthetic features make sense for your product and brand essence. Below are features that can make your specialty food packaging count.
Luxury Food Packaging Features
When narrowing down your gourmet food packaging design, consider the overall feeling you want to elicit (and that your consumers want to feel). Do you want to tap into nostalgia for a particular era? Nod to Old-World European influence? Play up the homemade element?
These questions can help you decide on a visual design and the features that will create the experience your consumers are looking for. Premium packaging features that work well for specialty food brands include:
- Label embellishments. Embossment, foiling, dual finishes and varnishes take your product label to the next level, providing a multi-sensory experience and highlighting key messaging points.
- Folding cartons. Folding cartons offer product protection as primary packaging or can serve as a secondary container to products such as chocolate bars to add durability, reinforce the premium quality and give you more real estate to tell your products’ story. Folding cartons also allow for a variety of finishes and embellishments or can serve a dual purpose to merchandise your product.
- Laser scoring and reclosability. If your product comes in a flexible package, make sure consumers can access it when (and however many times) they want. Laser scoring makes packages for chips, nuts, candy or other snacks easily accessible, and various options for closures improve the consumer experience of products through multiple servings.
- Leveled-up pouch packaging. Enhance your flexible package with various visual and functional characteristics, along with soft-touch, matte and other tactile features.
- Sustainability features. Choose recyclable packaging or packaging made from PCR content to appeal to consumers who value sustainability.
These are just a few of the ways you can communicate quality and craft with packaging. By putting the same artistry into your packaging as your product, you show consumers that you value their experience of your product and beyond it.
Specialty Food Packaging From a Supplier That Wants to See You Grow
Being an artisanal food producer starts with passion. At Belmark, we help you bring that passion to life with packaging solutions that work for you, regardless of where you are in your journey. With no order minimums, fast turnaround times and second-to-none customer service, Belmark’s approach is designed with your growth in mind. Whether you need thousands of labels for a limited release product or a single prototype to show off to retailers or tradeshow attendees, we’re here to help make it happen.