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Six Things That Make Food Packaging Stand Out on the Shelves

When it comes to designing the way that food packaging should look, there are a lot of different areas that people have to think about. On one hand, people have to make sure that their food products stand out from all the other items on the shelves.

At the same time, they have to make sure that the food products have packages that are appealing to look at and call to the customers who are looking at them.

Because of this, packaging design can be overwhelming to think about. Thankfully, there are a few different ways that it can be broken down into a more approachable field.

These are six concepts to think about when planning out the design of food packaging to really make it stand out.

1. Begin With a Simple Design

When people have to spend a lot of time trying to parse packaging that is busy, complex, or otherwise overdone, they will likely not feel inclined to purchase that product.

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To put it simply, packaging that is too busy makes it harder for customers to glean what the food product underneath is really about.

When comparing this to another packaging on the shelf, this will mean that competing brands are more appealing, which is not what people are interested in.

By choosing to begin the design with simple concepts, such as solid colours, minimalistic design, and not having too much text on the packaging, people can make sure that the packaging is appealing while still being easy on the eyes.

This is one of the most important places to start with any design.

2. Complement the Contents of the Package

It is also incredibly important to make sure that the packaging for the food complements the food inside. This applies to both practicality and aesthetics.

For example, foods that have preservatives in them will be able to have packaging that is not as focused on preservation and being refrigerator/freezer safe than more perishable foods.

Likewise, foods that can spoil easily should be packaged in materials that help keep them shelf-stable for as long as reasonably possible.

This concept also applies in an aesthetic sense as well. For example, if a package is for flavoured waters, it shouldn’t be stored in the same type of aluminium can that sodas are, as it can be bottled and sold in packaging that falls more in line with water.

Another example is that packaging should go along with the colours and style of the food inside.

3. Focus on the Product’s Benefits

While text should not be too prominent on most food packaging, it is important to make sure that the packages talk up any benefits about the food inside that there are.

These can be done in simple phrases, graphics, and numbers. A good example of this is that if there are no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, the packaging design could incorporate large zeros denoting this to easily get any prospective customer’s attention.

Some other examples to consider include mentioning if the food is allergen-free or if it doesn’t contain any common allergens including milk, wheat, soy, eggs, and nuts.

Packaging could also incorporate information about the vitamin and mineral content, depending on the food. And finally, it should include any other information that health-conscious consumers may want to know about.

4. Take From Architectural Design

Most people understandably consider that architectural design refers to large-scale buildings and other 3D models, but the concepts that make up the foundation of architectural design can still be applied to the design of food packages.

The main concepts to consider are the form, function, and beauty of the package. Form, obviously, refers to the physical shape of the package. A unique and aesthetically pleasing shape can make a product stand out from other generic shapes.

The function of the product is also important. This refers to whether or not the form can apply to the function of the product in any way.

An example of this would be having a uniquely designed bottle shape for a drink product, and having the shape be easy to grip as part of its functionality.

Depending on the food product, there may not be much that can be done in the way of function beyond preservation and protection. This is when people tend to focus more on the beauty aspects.

5. Use Numerous Materials

Making use out of a variety of materials can be helpful in a number of different ways. From the consumer’s viewpoint, numerous materials can add to the appearance and make them more appealing to people looking at the products on the shelves.

When there are several materials being used, it can also affect longevity. For example, products made with aluminium can last longer in storage than more fragile materials such as cardboard.

From a practical standpoint, using numerous materials can come into play in several different ways.

This includes considering how long products may be able to sit on a shelf, making sure that nutritional info is easily readable and printable, and making sure that the packaging does not interfere with bulk transport.

Other areas to consider are making sure that the products can be stacked for transport and whether or not the packaging materials are easy to obtain compared to the most common materials, which are plastic, aluminium, and cardboard.

6. Consider Limited Edition Versions

Once a design for the package has been settled on, used, and produced, it may be worth considering the idea of having limited-edition versions.

This can make the product stand out once again, even after regular customers have gotten used to the appearance of the usual packaging.

This can also bring in new customers who may not have seen the original product.

There are countless opportunities for limited editions to be made, including holiday seasons, major events in popular culture, and simply just on a whim to keep customers on their toes and interested in looking at the products.

Most limited edition designs make use of colours that suit the theme of the limited edition. For instance, if a product is being given a special edition for Christmas, then Christmas colours are traditionally used.


If the limited edition is based on an event, the most prominent colours of the event should be considered.

Otherwise, the materials and overall design, such as any text and the placement of it, should be kept the same so that the product can be easily recognized.


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