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Avoid Big Trouble: Seven Packaging Design Tips
“FDA: Some KIND Bars Not as Healthy as they claim to be” – KIND bars needing to change their labeling following accusations the bars weren’t as healthy as advertised serves as a prime example of a company that could have avoided headaches, lawsuits and negative press by following a few simple steps.
When creating your food products packaging and labeling design, it is important that companies, especially start-up entrepreneurs, do their homework or work closely with experts who have, such as food co-packers and package design agencies like Custom Direct.
Consider the following food package design tips to avoid BIG trouble, and help to ensure your food packaging and labeling is in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #1: Visit authoritative, publicly available websites for guidelines on food packaging design and labeling.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency charged with regulating food safety, has a wealth of resources available on its website regarding all aspects of product packaging for Food, Medical Devices, cosmetics, and so on. The website offers a downloadable PDF that explains how to correctly label food products containing potential allergens.
The FDA’s website also includes its allowable definitions for food ingredients and packaging terms, such as the difference between a Color Additive and a Colorant – helpful hints for food labeling. You’ll find a wealth of valuable information; it’s well worth checking out.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #2: Become informed about food trends of concern to consumers.
With the latest shift in consumer taste, healthy living is not just a fad for many consumers today. It’s a way of life that is made possible with low-priced specialty brands and greater access to information on how to achieve specific health goals. To put it simply, consumers want to know what is in their food.
Some brands have already taken steps toward telling their consumers what’s in their product by being more transparent with their food labeling ingredients.
Although companies are required to disclose whether their food products contain genetically engineered (GE) foods – commonly referred to as GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – some companies have chosen to add “NON-GMO” labels to their packaging. Those companies who have “NON-GMO” labels are closely monitored by the FDA and food industry to make sure their claims are valid.
Public interest and advocacy organizations, such as the Center for Food Safety, are industry watchdogs that closely monitor food product ingredients and labeling. They are urging the food industry to give consumers access to food alteration information, as they believe it is important for environmental, ethical, health, and religious reasons.
It’s important to keep in mind that certain food ingredients may be allowed by the FDA, but not by current public opinion and preference. Be careful, or the watchdogs may bite.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #3: Investigate resources to help you understand and create Nutrition Fact labels for your recipes.
So you want to scale your recipe from 4 dozen to 40 dozen, or 2 gallons to 200 gallons. It’s not as simply as multiplying by 10 or 100. Ingredient ratios need to be adjusted.
ReciPal is a company created by food entrepreneurs for food entrepreneurs. With their website app, you can scale your recipes and create FDA approved Nutrition Fact food product labels. You can also securely store your recipes, calculate recipe cost by batch and package, and talk with nutrition fact labeling experts to answer your questions.
The ReciPal website also contains links to several how-to videos for Nutrition Labeling and recipe creation, costing and management. Although we don’t endorse this specific company, we find that its website offers helpful food packaging resources and is easy to navigate.
The FDA is proposing changes to the packaged foods Nutrition Facts label. Be sure to refer regularly to its website for current FDA Labeling and Nutrition Facts guidelines, so you can make any required changes in a timely manner.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #4: Understand consumer and public policy trends regarding health and nutrition.
Consumer and public policy trends change every year. And the food industry is no exception.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a wealth of nutrition resources, including general nutrition information, dietary supplements, nutrition for children, fruit and vegetable consumption, a variety of data and statistics, and a wealth of other insightful information for both consumers and food product companies.
The CDC’s Prevention Status Reports (PSRs) highlight “the status of public health policies and practices designed to prevent or reduce important public health problems.” One concern highlighted by the PSRs is food safety, as talked about in Package Design Tip #2. The PSRs address food safety concerns such as parasites, bacteria, parasites, chemicals and other items that can cause foodborne illnesses.
For the health of the your customers, as well as your company, it’s important to stay informed about these issues.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #5: Design your food product packaging to be functional AND sell your product.
When creating your food products package design, it’s important to go beyond the nutrition label and consider packaging that is simple, and has a clear message that tells the consumer what they are taking home. If you’re proud of your message, make it newsworthy! Bring attention to the product features and promote your food ingredient transparency with consumers. The best place to start is by displaying it right on your packaging.
After you’ve created your food packaging design, select an appropriate food packaging or label material. Think about how your finished food product will be stored and displayed in stores, and how it will appear in print and online marketing. There are many different packaging and label materials available, and you’ll want to consider shelf life, shipping, storage, handling and display conditions.
Remember, your food packaging design must be practical and appropriate for your product, yet enticing enough for consumers to want to purchase the product. When you work with an experienced packaging designer like Custom Direct, you get the expertise needed for creating eye-catching, functional packaging designs.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #6: Learn from market leaders such as Whole Foods.
As you’re tweaking your recipe and developing your food package design, check out market leaders to determine where to sell your product and make sure you follow their guidelines. They’re experts in the industry, and can save you time when vying for valuable shelf space.
Whole Foods Market provides a helpful example for start-ups with their “Supplier Guidelines” booklet, which contains everything an entrepreneur needs to know to build and maintain a strong sales relationship with Whole Foods. Two other grocery stores that can help you are Sprouts Farmers Market and Fresh Market.
It’s well worth contacting these grocers. Who knows, you could be just what they need to spice up their shelves at their different store locations.
PACKAGE DESIGN TIP #7: Hire a team who can help you successfully navigate the food labeling and packaging maze.
After much urging from family and friends, you’re ready to share your specialty food product with the world. Bravo to you!
As daunting as it may seem, you don’t have to navigate the food packaging design waters on your own. Find a great partner who is knowledgeable about packaging label regulations and design innovation, has a wealth of available resources, and can quickly take on your food packaging design project.
The packaging experts at Custom Direct have the knowledge and experience to help you successfully package, launch and sell your specialty food product.