Among the many trends in gastronomy, plant-based food is currently a leader. This type of food requires fewer natural resources to produce and is therefore seen as more sustainable. It is usually highly nutritious, and consumers are increasingly incorporating it into their normal diet. If this trend wants to go the distance, however, it will need a good packaging solution.
What are plant-based foods?
Plant-based foods are made completely from plants and vegetable extracts. They are suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone looking to eat more sustainably. Much of the appeal lies in the fact that these foods require fewer natural resources in their cultivation process, meaning they have a smaller environmental impact.
What has really made plant-based foods a trend, however, is that many such products try to imitate the texture, flavour, and appearance of meat, fish and other animal-derived products. Several sources highlight flavour as a key factor in consumers’ decisions on whether to buy these foods.
This booming gastronomy trend needs a packaging solution that can protect all the sensory qualities of these foods for consumers. Not only could it motivate more potential customers to buy plant-based products, it could secure the loyalty of those who have already tried and placed their trust in a specific brand.
Plant-based products: the future of food?
Many people opt for plant-based foods to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. A report from Innova Market Insights reveals that in the past year, plant-based proteins and foods made entirely from plants constituted the main choice of 25% of those surveyed globally.
The results of a study conducted this year in Spain show that this trend has gained further ground, particularly in Spain, where 70% of consumers plan to increase their consumption of plant-based products in the near future. The same study reveals that around 50% of consumers have bought these products in recent months, suggesting this trend is now firmly established in our market.
Key features of plant-based-food packaging
Packaging for plant-based foods must have a series of specific features to protect and preserve the properties of these foods. Consumers are primarily attracted by the flavour, smell and texture of these foods, and these qualities must be maintained to perfection if a product is to stand out from the rest.
Packaging for plant-based foods needs to provide an efficient barrier to protect the sensory qualities of the food as optimally as possible and preserve the food throughout the logistics chain.
The look of the packaging is also key to sending the right message. Remember that plant-based products often seek to imitate their animal-derived counterparts. For example, plant-based burgers or cold cuts.
To ensure an optimal customer experience and bring these products not only to vegans and vegetarians, but to flexitarians and the wider public, plant-based food packaging should look similar to the packaging of the foods that these products are trying to substitute. It’s about tapping in to what potential consumers are already familiar with.
Clearly, the packaging must be unambiguously labelled to tell customers they are looking at a plant-based product and not meat.
Sustainability: the pillar of plant-based-food packaging
Packaging sustainability is crucial when it comes to plant-based foods. These foods themselves require fewer resources and raw materials to make them, and their sustainability is a huge part of their appeal. In fact, sources from the food sector suggest this is one of the main things consumers are attracted to.
Other sources state that 78% of consumers place sustainability above other factors such as cost, and that 84% judge a product’s sustainability from the label and packaging.
Various retail sources have gathered data on the need for packaging that meets consumers’ ethical and sustainability demands. Plant-based foods are successful in part because they transmit values such as sustainability, meaning potential consumers will turn away from packaging that does not convey these values, and may even think the brand is being hypocritical.
New food trends are constantly emerging, and packaging has a key role to play in their success. Plant-based-food packaging solutions must not only conserve the food itself, but communicate brand values and ideals, as well as those pertaining to the product inside.