Optimising Packaging Designs For QSR Delivery

Monday, October 19th, 2020

With packaging becoming a key factor contributing to both safety and in-dining experiences demanded by the consumer, there needs to be an end-to-end holistic approach that links food and beverage products’ performance to packaging solutions. By Josh Strong, Senior Marketing Manager, Foodservice—SEA, Kerry.

What are the challenges in the food service industry with relation to packaging?

Packaging’s role has constantly evolved in the food service industry. Originally used to wrap the product and/or a branding opportunity for operators, it offered very basic functionality. As takeout became more popular in the West, with drive-throughs changing the way restaurants operated in the 1970s, packaging naturally also had to change to be more sturdier, hardier and provide a purpose—keeping the food or beverage item secure during delivery, for eating on-the-go or at home. Instead of items being served on a tray in a restaurant, food and beverages were now also being carried out. 

The packaging space for operators has also come under scrutiny in more recent times in terms of excessive plastic usage and waste. Things like more sustainable cups and materials have been a subject that has gained a lot of interest and pressure to achieve, so too the need to reduce things like plastic straws and non-biodegradable packaging materials. We have seen many global food service chains committing to this waste reduction through their sustainability goals.

Fast-forward to the present, across Southeast Asia, with the delivery boom that’s been accelerated by COVID-19, packaging has again surfaced as a key conversation point, and has been identified as an area that hasn’t evolved at the same pace of change as consumer expectations and the environment. Packaging cost has always been a major challenge for foodservice operators, with packaging seen as secondary to their overall product and service. However, now we are seeing packaging being something that can make or break a foodservice delivery experience and a way for operators to differentiate beyond just the food or beverage item. (reference study).


How is COVID-19 accelerating the need for more convenient packaging options? 

Through a comprehensive, proprietary study that Kerry APMEA conducted across Southeast Asia (Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Bangkok) looking at delivery habits before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, we see packaging as a key factor influencing how consumers rate the overall delivery experience. As we know COVID-19 has only further cemented the popularity of the growing home delivery channel in food and beverage across the region, and early restrictions around COVID-19 have amplified the needs that delivery was meeting (safe, contactless transactions, restaurant-quality food and dining experience brought in-home), giving consumers more rationale to order food at home. 

Defined in our study as two very pragmatic concerns across the region: Safety—a heightened need brought to the forefront with COVID-19 – and Better Packaging, which is the first contact with delivery and seen as something that sets the tone for consequent experiences. Both respectively came in as key decision-making factors beyond the expected three key attributes consumers look for: Taste and other sensory factors such as Temperature, Texture and spillage

Our study concludes that home delivery is a thought-out amalgamation of factors. Menu diversity and discounts score marginally more than other factors across markets while COVID-19 seems to have made safety also a top concern and priority in the decision-making process. 

For example, in Indonesia, consumers are looking for better packaging, along with affordability and hygiene. Filipino consumers are chiefly looking for hygienic preparation and better packaging. Restaurant-like experiences (sensorials – Taste, Texture, Temperature) are another top expectation. And in Thailand, home delivery would be improved if it was more affordable, the menu more diverse and better packaged.


What are Kerry’s recommendations for packaging manufacturers to optimise designs to meet consumer needs?

With delivery being the fastest growing channel in foodservice, our focus is to enable our customers’ products to be functional and practical in the delivery environment and also bridge the gap between the delivery and restaurant-like experience, at home. 

With packaging becoming a key factor contributing to both safety and the in-dining experience demanded by the consumer, there needs to be an end-to-end holistic approach that links food and beverage products’ performance to packaging solutions. 

The research and development component behind food and beverage creation needs to encompass the packaging component, and vice versa, with the focus being on how they both intersect and interact together.


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