How to Choose the Right Food Packaging For Your Product in Australia
The success of your food product depends on a range of factors such as the taste, brand and image, healthiness (if you take that approach), and – of course – the appeal and functionality of your packaging.
This makes sense. As after all, the first thing a customer will see is the packaging of your product, which will no doubt sit among a sea of competitors all vying for their attention and heard-earned cash. Make a great first impression and you’re bound to increase sales.
Of course, shelf appeal is just one of many factors to consider with your food packaging in Australia. Other details you need to get right include:
- Durability – How much roughing up can the packaging handle? Can the packaging withstand extreme changes in temperature? This is crucial, as you want the product to travel safely from the warehouse and into the hands of your customers yet stay in great shape.
- Functionality – Is your packaging easy to hold? Are the food contents easy to access? Is the packaging lightweight and portable?
- Hygiene and preservation – How effectively can the packaging seal in the flavour, freshness, and crispness? Is the food contents safe from contamination (either by other food or the packaging itself)? Is the packaging itself fit for the intended purpose?
Get any of these details wrong and it could lead to costly returns, design overhauls, and manufacturing reruns. Worse still, it could harm the reputation of your brand. For these reasons, you need to partner up with food packaging experts who understand your needs, your audience, and how to ensure your packaging is fit for purpose and complies with Food Packaging Australian Standards.
First, let’s dive into the basics…
Australian Food Packaging Standards
A great looking product means nothing if you cannot legally sell it. That’s why you need to have a clear understanding of the Australian Standards. And what those standards mean for the design of your packaging.
The good news is, any food packaging supplier you approach should have a clear understanding of these standards, and how they will impact the look, feel, and appeal of your product. Of course, it’s always good to know the basics yourself before you start to approach suppliers – so that you can trust their knowledge and expertise.
So what exactly are the requirements? Under the Standard 3.2.2 – Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, food businesses must:
- Only use packaging material that is fit for its intended purpose.
- Only use material that is not likely to cause food contamination.
- Ensure there is no likelihood that the food may become contaminated during the packaging process.
The Standard then goes on to outline the kind of risks that can make food potentially unsafe or unsuitable, which are as follows:
- Something contaminates the food during the packaging process
- Harmful microorganisms get into food from dirty or damaged packaging
- Parts of the packaging break off into food (e.g. glass or plastic fragments)
- Chemicals leach from packaging into food
Aside from just spelling out the requirements and potential risks, the Standard also suggests ways to reduce the risk of making food unsafe or unsuitable, such as:
- Only use clean, undamaged, food-safe packaging
- Know the composition of your food and check the packaging is suitable (ask the supplier or manufacturer for assurance or certification that the material is food-safe).
- Check manufacturer’s instructions or symbols to confirm the packaging can take the conditions it will be exposed to, such as freezing, microwaving, or use in dishwashers.
- Consider how long and where food will be stored in the packaging and check it will stay safe under those conditions.
- Consider using a food-safe inner liner if there’s a risk of chemicals leaching into food
Now that you have a basic understanding of the Food Packaging Australian Standards, let’s find out how tough your packaging has to be…
Strength and Durability
Throughout the supply chain your food packaging will face some unique challenges.
For starters, Australia is no stranger to extreme climates. Just because your product will be on display in a neutral, climate controlled environment – like a retail store, milk bar, or café – it will also be exposed to varying conditions while being transported from the warehouse and into your customer’s hands. So your product must be able to resist the harsh elements with ease.
Secondly, the shape, dimensions, and net weight of your product is vital. If the shape is awkward, or over-sized for its intended purpose, this poses a greater risk of the product being mishandled, dropped, or poorly stacked. So make sure the design of your product makes it easy to transport, comfortable to hold, and easy to display on the retail shelf.
Finally, the material. Your food packaging supplier will help you choose a material that fits your unique specifications. For food pouches, the most popular and cost-effective materials are kraft paper, laminated material, metallized film, and polyethylene. Your supplier will advise you on the benefits of each material and help you choose the right one for you.
Branding and Design
Back in 2011, Coca Cola changed the iconic red colour of their can. For a good cause, though. You see, the company produced a special edition white-coloured can in order to raise funds for endangered polar bears.[i]
On paper, this idea was brilliant. But the company received unexpected backlash from consumers, who complained that the flavour of the beverage was “less sweet” than the ordinary red coloured can.
The problem? The formula was exactly the same. What happened was that people’s perception of the flavour was altered based on the change in appearance of the can. This resulted in a negative response from the marketing campaign – despite its clearly good intentions.
Now, if a company as huge as Coca Cola can fall victim to a branding scandal, what will people say about your company?
This is why it’s crucial that you test the design of your food packaging. You need to ensure every element of the packaging is in perfect harmony. So you should make sure that:
- Key selling benefits are clearly displayed on the front label.
- Graphics and images are consistent with your current branding.
- All text – such as the product description, nutritional info, ingredients, and more – are easy to read and comprehend.
- The right colour is chosen – this will require some in-depth knowledge of the link between colour and human psychology, which a reputable food packaging supplier will help you out with.
- The shape is easy to hold, food contents are accessible, and the product is easy to store on the self.
Modern food preservation allows many products to stay fresher for longer. This is largely due to advancements in the materials used for food packaging in Australia.
One example is the use of a metallized layer. The film, which is a cost-effective alternative to aluminium, is a high-barrier metallized laminate which can effectively protect a food product from oxygen, moisture, and other contaminants that can reduce the quality, freshness, and crispness of the food. [i]
Certain products to include this film are potato chips, pretzels, muesli bars, dried fruit, nuts, and crackers. Ultimately, the metalized layer has proven to be extremely popular due to its cost-effectiveness, versatility, and ability to greatly improve the value and shelf life of a product.
Another effective form of preservation is found in coffee packaging. Naturally, roasted coffee tends to release carbon dioxide for at least 2-3 weeks after being roasted. This means, when the coffee is stored into the packaging, the gas needs somewhere to escape to ensure the bag does not expand.
To prevent this problem, nearly all roasted coffee packaging has an in-built de-gassing valve. The valve allows C02 gas to escape the bag yet keep out oxygen, moisture, and other contaminants. As a result, the roasted coffee stays fresher for longer, which allows the consumer to enjoy the product at their own leisurely pace.
Talk to the Experts
Are you planning to launch a new food product, relaunch an existing brand, or test the market with a concept? Contact The Pouch Shop today. Find out how our team of industry experts can help supply the food packaging of your dreams.