Packaging Your To-Go Experience

The average U.S. consumer places 48 takeout orders per year, according to Datassential. Consumers are constantly transporting their meals to go from restaurants, food trucks, drive-thrus, cafeterias, kiosks, and more. As the vessel for food transportation, the packaging can make or break a takeout meal and is a crucial factor for the success of any takeout program. Packaging goes beyond functionality to accommodate leftovers and enables restaurants to have control of the out-of-store dining experience. It’s a minimal investment that has the power to drive sales, and the responsibility to represent your brand. Not only does packaging create mobility for your food, but it’s also the platform customers often consume their meals out of that should support, protect, and enhance the quality and convenience of your to-go meals and takeout experience.

 

 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Whether it’s compartments, visible lids, or ventilation, packaging is designed for specific functions in the restaurant experience. The containers provided to customers for leftovers after dining at your restaurant should not be the same as what is used to package takeout items. Takeout meals should mimic the restaurant dining experience, and the qualities of the packaging should lend themselves to this concept. Whether it’s durable silverware or deli paper, consider all elements needed to ensure you provide guests with a flawless, convenient, and enjoyable meal.

The type of food you serve is the most significant determiner for what packaging is the best fit for your operation. Insulated foam containers may work best for sandwiches while salads or desserts are typically best presented in highly visible packaging to ensure freshness and showcase creative presentation. Foods that need to be kept crisp should be packaged in containers with vents to release condensation while effective seals are a greater concern for meals with more liquid. While the packaging may differ depending on the type of food you’re serving, there are a few elements that should always be considered when choosing packaging for takeout.

Functionality

Diners order takeout to enjoy a restaurant quality meal at home, and your packaging has the responsibility to maintain the integrity of your food, ensuring it appears as if it were being served in your restaurant by the time your customers enjoy it. Other than functioning as a platform to consume meals out of, packaging should enhance your customers’ takeout experience and make it as efficient and convenient as possible. If reheating is involved, be sure to include proper warming instructions for customers to follow. It should also be easy to transport, and maintain the food’s preferred temperature and freshness.

Durability

The durability of your packaging is just as important as the food you’re serving. Packaging that leaks, spills, or breaks easily will drive customers away from your restaurant. Try wrapping items individually or placing liquids and other components into a separate bag. Sturdy lids and resealable containers are essential as consumers also expect to eat their takeout when and where they want. Foods of differing temperatures should always be packaged separately to ensure they are consumed at temperatures that don’t compromise the safety and integrity of the meal. Sauces should also be packaged separately to avoid soggy items. To be sure your operation’s packaging meets these standards, conduct a test run with takeout meals in their desired packaging and adjust the items that don’t meet expectations.

Value

Ensure all takeout items are filled adequately to fit the packaging each time. Packaging that’s partially filled can lead to a perception of smaller portions, creating an impression of low value. Equip your operation with a variety of packaging options that will suit multiple needs and volumes to create a striking impression of value and increased visual appeal. According to Datassential, more than 1 in 3 consumers agree that takeout packaging that lacks presentation and is unable to serve multiple people is a deal breaker. Incorporate takeout offerings that accommodate a shareable spread or an assortment of desserts to increase profitability and value of your takeout meals.

Branding

Packaging presents great opportunity to highlight your brand identity. Using your packaging as a branding tool adds your restaurant’s personality to the takeout experience. If customers enjoy their experience, your branded packaging will reaffirm a positive perception of your brand image and leave your restaurant top-of-mind for their next takeout craving. There are countless approaches to consider when branding your packaging. Try featuring a sticker with your logo, phone number, and URL on takeout containers and bags, and even include a trending hash tag for customers to engage with and promote free marketing for your restaurant. Add items to your takeout bags such as business cards, branded recipe cards, or quick customer surveys to get feedback on customers’ perception of your to-go offerings. You can also check out our partners that offer custom embossing such as Genpak, Pactiv, Anchor Packaging, and Durable Packaging.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a growing concern for many consumers, especially millennials. According to Evergreen Packaging, 73 percent of millennials say they try to buy products in packaging that is recyclable. Sustainable packaging is not a necessity for every operation, but it can significantly influence customers’ buying decisions and elevate your brand reputation.

Maines-To-Go

Maines can match the quality of your packaging to that of your products. Our signature brands Propak and Windscapes offer top-quality packaging that will protect your product and enhance your brand via sustainable solutions. Contact your Maines Territory Manager to learn more about our signature packaging brands. Check out some of our partners that can also supply your operation with top-of-the-line packaging.

Genpak-Harvest Fiber

From foam-hinged containers to oven-ready bakery trays and everything in between, Genpak has the food packaging solutions to fit most every need. Genpak’s Harvest Fiber collection contains items produced using all natural, annually renewable resources that are 100% BPI certified compostable.

Applications: The superior strength of Harvest Fiber products will hold the heaviest of items including ribs, steaks, and bulky sandwiches.

Green Wave-Ovation Tableware

Green Wave’s premium compostable tableware products are produced from the leftover materials of corn, sugarcane, and wheat harvests. Their environmentally friendly Ovation Tableware provides foodservice operators with plates, bowls, portion cups, trays, and hinged containers that have an upscale marbled look and are perfect for serving eco-conscious customers. Ovation Tableware products are microwavable and certified compostable.

Applications: Ovation Tableware offers an excellent platform for hot or cold bowl foods along with sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Pactiv-Newspring Packaging

Pactiv Packaging supplies foodservice operators with top-quality containers, cutlery, plates, platters, bowls, cups, lids, trays, beverage carriers, and more. Their Newspring products include microwavable containers, tubs, and portion cups all in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. All Newspring packaging is microwavable, can withstand hot and cold temperatures, and offers customers a reliable, reusable product.

Applications: Newspring packaging is excellent for soups, salads, stews, and entrées. The soufflé and portion cups are perfect for holding condiments, dips, dressings, and sides.

Durable Packaging-Black Diamond Containers

Durable Packaging provides aluminum foil products for both retail and foodservice applications. Durable Black Diamond Containers are infinitely recyclable. The black and gold containers give any meal an upscale appearance with a higher perceived value that helps operators sell food more profitably. The containers with foil also allow for reheating in both the oven and the microwave.

Applications: The high visibility of Black Diamond Containers is great for showcasing sushi, salads, pastries, and desserts.

Anchor Packaging-MicroRaves Incredi-Bowls

Anchor Packaging is a leading manufacturer of rigid containers and all-purpose cling film for the foodservice industry. They offer upscale takeout packaging including assorted hinged and two-piece packages with high clarity and anti-fog lids to merchandise fresh prepared, ready-to-eat, and ready-to-reheat meals. Their MicroRaves Incredi-Bowls are a customer favorite and are available in 15 sizes with lids that fit multiple containers, leak-resistant seals, and easy-open tabs.

Applications: MicroRaves Incredi-Bowls are perfect for soups, stews, chilis, pasta, stir-fry, as well as sauces and desserts.