resealable closure. Consumers can easily
drop a pouch in a purse or backpack
without worrying about spillage.
Another popular protein snack
packaging trend is the rigid tray that
separates different food items into
compartments. They’re like Lunchables for
adults and may invoke a sense of nostalgia
among millennials. The drawback to this
type of non-reclosable packaging is a lack
Portion Size Preferences
Many snack manufacturers are following
the trend of single-serve packaging.
Smaller packaging creates convenience for
on-the-go snackers. Yet, there is also room
for brands to differentiate themselves by
thinking differently about portion sizes.
If, as consumer studies suggest,
people are snacking multiple times per
day, should we assume they always want
single-serving portions? Instead of eating
everything in one sitting, some consumers
may want to nibble on a few servings of
their protein snack throughout the day.
What if a brand used larger snack
packaging designed to provide sustenance
for an entire work week? In that case,
closures like zippers and sliders would
add significant value as reclosability would
essentially become a necessity.
Another reason to use packaging beyond
the single-serving size relates to the life
changes many millennials are experiencing.
Single-serve packages are made for single
people. But, millennials are in the midst of
shifting their lifestyles and habits. They’re
getting married and starting families, which
means healthy snacks may be enjoyed by
millennial parents and sent with kids to
school, daycare or soccer practice.
Watch for consumer shopping habits
to change as younger moms and dads
purchase large packages at places like
warehouse club stores and supercenters.
Nielsen’s research suggests meat snack
purchases are spread somewhat evenly
among retail channels. While jerky may be
considered a popular convenience store
impulse buy, the study found 24 percent of
purchases occur at supercenters and 20
percent at warehouse clubs.
Another trend to consider is the way
shoppers feel about waste. They don’t want
to throw away food, and many are annoyed
by goods that are overpackaged.
The United Nations estimates more
than one billion tons of food gets wasted
globally each year. Mintel’s 2018 Packaging
Trends report indicates consumers believe
the right packaging can extend the shelf-life of food products. Indeed, a flexible
package with features such as a zipper
or slider will keep protein snacks fresher
longer and protect flavor. Packaging that
helps consumers avoid the guilt and
frustration of throwing food away will add
Overpackaging also frustrates shoppers,
especially those who are environmentally
conscious and pay attention to whether
brands are implementing sustainable
manufacturing practices. Snack packaging
needs to serve specific functions. If it’s
not needed to protect the product or
provide some sort of convenience, some
consumers may view it as wasteful.
Do consumers really need a rigid
package separating a few almonds from
cheese and meat bites? Or, are there
options that produce less packaging waste?
Mintel says 52 percent of consumers prefer
products with minimal packaging. Flexible
packaging results in source reduction of
raw material and requires less energy to
transport. That means a smaller carbon
footprint thanks, in part, to the fact it is
lightweight and easy to ship.
Snack Packaging Innovation
Whether it’s ready-to-eat protein
snacks or the myriad other product types
with the potential to benefit from flexible
packaging, developments in manufacturing
are making it easier for brands and
packagers to take advantage.
Leaders in the packaging industry
are getting innovative with flexible
packaging construction, which is giving
brands more possibilities. Materials are
being improved as well, which gives
packagers better performance.
New technology includes machinery
that boosts plant efficiency, sliders and
zippers that are designed to work better on
packaging equipment, and a wide variety
of films that are making the standup pouch
a fast-growing solution. Fitments such as
spouts have even made flexible pouches
feasible for liquid products. Reduced-scale
slider systems are making it possible to
add premium closures to smaller, snack-sized pouches.
There is an opportunity in the snack
market, especially with ready-to-eat
protein products, to use packaging to
differentiate a brand from the competition.
The right package with the right features
and functionalities can set one product
apart as the premium option. It could also
become the family-friendly option, the
sustainable option or the on-the-go option.
Packaging is evolving along with
consumer preferences and lifestyles. The
protein snack brands and packagers who
are willing to adapt and innovate will be
the ones who come out on top.
Richard Custer is Specialty Commercial
Director at Presto Products.
Protein snacks, such as meat sticks, are being marketed to millennials using
flavor variety and premium packaging.