Why restaurants are switching to smart packaging | modern restaurant management

We’ve all ordered our favorite dish online at least once from a local restaurant, and it was cold when it arrived at our doorstep. Events like this not only ruined our entire dining experience, but also prevented us from ordering food from this restaurant for some time.

Restaurant owners try to solve this problem by choosing the right packaging option. Restaurant owners are using smart packaging to keep food hot, hygienic, presentable and ready to eat from the kitchen to the customer’s plate. The concept of online food delivery and takeout exploded amid the pandemic and continues to gain momentum until today. Several restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other food outlets have integrated take-out and home delivery into their services to win customers and keep their business afloat during the crisis.

We will discuss the influence of smart packaging on the perception of food quality in the takeaway industry and how restaurateurs are leveraging smart packaging to recover their position post-pandemic, considering trends highlights in the recently concluded webcast by ESOMAR-certified research firm Future Market Insights (IMF) on “Smart Packaging Adoption: Who are the Frontrunners?”

What makes smart packaging so popular

Cross-contamination in a restaurant refers to the transmission of germs or other dangerous microorganisms from food, equipment, or humans to food. This can happen at any point in the food preparation process, including packing meals for takeout and delivery. Smart food packaging is tamper evident and protects food from cross-contamination that can occur when transferring food from restaurant to customer.

Our senses determine how we perceive and enjoy our dining experience. The smart wrap option not only keeps the food intact but also ensures that the food looks appetizing just like it would in a restaurant. The quality, freshness and temperature of meals are among the most critical factors consumers consider when ordering food.

The delivery of cold dishes leads to a loss of customers. Smart packaging solutions such as temperature time indicators and biosensors inform the consumer of the freshness and temperature of the dish when it arrives, while secondary packaging solutions ensure food stays hot.

Smart packaging adds extra appeal to traditional packaging, making it presentable and appetizing. Research has shown that 72% of Americans say that packaging design affects their purchasing decisions.

Smart packaging allows restaurateurs to charge a higher amount for a well-packaged meal because consumers believe sustainable packaging has a higher perceived value. According to the webcast findings, younger generations are opting for smart packaging and are willing to spend more money on eco-friendly packaging. In addition, almost 50% of the population prefers environmentally friendly materials for packaging.

Restaurants are stepping up their online food delivery game with smart, sustainable packaging

Today’s food packaging has gone beyond convenience and incorporated safety and marketing. In 2020, many restaurants closed their dining rooms and used online food delivery services to not only protect their staff and customers, but also to stay relevant and connected with their customers. According to Future Market Insights, since 2021, the online food delivery services market is growing at a CAGR of over 9.5%, with revenues expected to exceed US$1026 billion by 2031.

According to the webcast findings, ready-to-eat food sales will drive 2X latent demand for smart packaging; with smart packaging sales in the ready-to-eat industry will reach $2593 million by 2031. So for restaurants that just added an online ordering system, that means having the good takeaway and smart packaging is absolutely essential to attract and retain customers.

While people still want to be amazed by the experience of eating at home, restaurateurs are using innovative, smart and personalized packaging options to make their food feel like a complete meal before the consumer eat them. By leveraging smart and interactive packaging solutions, business owners generate buzz around their food products and seek to surprise existing customers and attract new ones.

KFC recently announced its sleek, clean and modernized new packaging that reflects the brand’s identity and aims to strike a balance between commercial and environmental sustainability. It also contains reheating instructions for take-out and home delivery services. The packaging is made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard and is approved for labeling by How2Recycle.

Restaurants are turning to eco-friendly take-out containers

Most people think that compostable packaging can be thrown away with other trash and will decompose on its own. However, the reality is that compostable packaging is designed to be broken down and processed in commercial composting facilities which provide the right environment for composting in a short time. If this packaging is not properly disposed of, it ends up in landfill and cannot be considered a true “green” solution.

Future Market Insights reported that containers and packaging products make up the majority of municipal waste, accounting for 82.2 million tonnes or 28.1% of total waste generated in 2021. Companies are rapidly adopting packaging solutions intelligent to avoid this enormous waste. It used to be that restaurants bought expensive take-out compostable packaging in the hope that it would be a greener alternative to disposable plastics.

However, packaging manufacturers are taking matters into their own hands and using environmentally friendly materials to develop bio-compostable packaging suitable for restaurant and take-out applications. For example, CHUK, a compostable tableware brand, recently launched a food delivery solution made from 100% compostable bagasse. This sustainable food delivery solution spans the entire food delivery ecosystem, including quick service restaurants, dark kitchens, delivery kitchens and cloud kitchens.

Similarly, Eco Products® recently announced the addition of seven new items to the Vanguard™ series. These two-part compostable to-go containers are made from sugar cane plant fibers and are certified compostable.

What does the future look like?

From protecting food from harmful bacteria to promoting your brand, smart packaging brings many benefits to restaurants and takeaways. However, to rebuild their business after the pandemic, they need to make smart packaging choices. Consumers are becoming very environmentally conscious and paying close attention to the behavior and packaging practices of brands they trust and support.

Restaurant owners use a smart packaging solution to help them select eco-friendly materials that are more suitable for their application and ensure the health and safety of their customers by delivering food safely.

The take-out packaging industry is in transition. Significant changes across the entire value chain are becoming commonplace as more than 80% of development is focused on sustainability. The cross-functionality of biodegradable restaurant delivery containers will be further explored due to its ability to reduce waste and provide significant cost savings.

Smart packaging in restaurants not only aims to reduce the amount of packaging waste, but also to promote the recycling of compostable and reusable packaging. Given the highly dynamic nature of smart packaging, major restaurant chains and online delivery services around the world want to strike a balance between innovation and functionality with a focus on deploying food packaging solutions that are personalized but highly durable.

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About Imogene T. Bishop

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