Snack packaging trendsGlobally, consumers are turning to snacks more frequently to replace meals. Meanwhile, health concerns and increasingly fast-paced lifestyles are driving demand for healthier snacking options like fruits and vegetables.

Europe is seeing the effects of this trend, as their fresh fruit and vegetable sector is worth a whopping €51.8 billion and production is increasing by 1.2 percent year-over-year. However, despite the reported growth of the produce industry, most European adults are not meeting the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 400 grams per day or roughly five servings of each.

One reason reported consumer demand and actual consumption don’t seem to match up may be linked to convenience. According to the Fit for Future report by the National Farmers’ Union of England, 20 percent of consumers questioned wanted to see more ready-to-eat, single-serve fruit and vegetable offerings become available on the market. This begs the question: How can we make fruits and vegetables a more convenient snacking option for consumers? The answer lies in “snackification,” the packaging of produce into bite-sized, simple-to-consume products.

Snack Packaging for Success

When time is short, consumers want to grab healthy, pre-portioned ready meals and snacks that are portable, leakproof, and easy to open and store. Snack packaging should enable consumers to choose fruit and vegetables over other snacks like chocolate, sweets and crisps. However, one in five supermarket shoppers claim their food choices are limited by complicated packaging, and 67 percent get frustrated with hard-to-open packaging. In contrast, snack packaging solutions that enable prolonged shelf life, stress-free opening features and clear food visibility, and allow for individually sized, ready-to-eat products make the purchase of fresh food and ready meals more appealing to shoppers.

Sustainability Drives Consumer Decisions

Preserving our planet’s natural resources is a global concern and consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on companies’ environmental practices. Shoppers want convenience, but not at the expense of the environment. A 2016 Harris Poll study commissioned by Sealed Air showed that three out of four grocery shoppers in Europe feel that the amount of food wasted in their specific country has a long-term impact on the environment. The amount of food wasted remains one of the top environmental concerns by European consumers.

Striking A Balance That Meets All Needs

As consumers seek to reduce their waste, retailers and processors are calling for innovative ways to extend the viability and shelf life of fresh fruit, vegetables, and ready meals while also reducing waste and the use of plastics. Unique snack packaging features such as heat-withstanding, easy-open, peel-in-one-piece films and thinner, fully recyclable ready meal food trays offer convenience as well as social consciousness.

Sealed Air has developed Cryovac® Sealappeal® PSF (Presentation Shrink Film), a snack packaging solution to help the food industry capitalize on the convenience food market. Its sealant and the whole structure is developed to peel in one piece, without tearing. This prevents the dreaded “wrap rage” that many consumers experience, while ensuring the food safety and waste reduction that they expect.

The snackification trend has presented the food industry with a unique opportunity to support consumers’ efforts to maintain a healthier lifestyle. The time is ripe to develop new products with consumer convenience and fresh-food preferences in mind. In doing so, the industry can also support efforts to preserve and protect our environment and make our communities better, healthier places to live.