Food marketing and packaging: innovating and standing out in a highly competitive sector

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We follow up the interview published in the May-June issue of Converter & Cartotecnica with Michele Bondani of Packaging in Italy, proposing a series of articles that we will publish from now on, on topical issues that revolve around the world of packaging, and involve it, starting from a strategic and marketing point of view, to provide some interesting ideas with Michele’s valuable advice and therefore understand where packaging market is going and which directions to follow in order to diversify and be successful …

Michele Bondani, founder and owner of Packaging in Italy

Michele Bondani explains that one of the most important trends that have involved the world of food in recent years has certainly been street food, a phenomenon comparable to the appearance on the market of vending machines, which in principle involved only the tobacco market, to develop transversely in different market segments, with an ever wider and more varied offer, including food and drinks. This new distribution channel has forced production companies to create divisions with products and solutions specifically designed for this particular market. The same phenomenon has involved the street food sector as well as the food delivery sector, in which also well-known food and wine companies and restaurants have decided to go outside their premises to offer their offer directly “within the customer’s reach”, in every physical space that is no longer just the walls of the restaurant. Covid emergency has clearly revealed this new trend and has also involved those types of “experiential” medium-high level restaurants that from day to day found themselves without customers in the dining room.

Customize the packaging in graphics and shapes
“How can we allow the customer to live the sensory experience of a dinner in a refined environment, perhaps with the show kitchen and the chef who prepared the dishes in front of customers, performing a show-cooking? Certainly through refined packaging solutions, cardboard boxes, shoppers with the restaurant brand, capable of making the simple delivery of a dish a small emotional experience”, comments Michele Bondani, “because it is one thing to receive at home an aluminum tray covered by a plastic film in a transparent plastic bag, another thing is instead to receive an elegant package, inside which there are maybe compartments with the different dishes ordered, a coordinated glass, napkins and cutlery with the brand of the restaurant, and why not a little gift, to give the delivery of takeaway food that added value for which the consumer is also willing to recognize even a higher price. Following this trend, catering entrepreneurs who wanted to stand out, created boxes, for example let’s about pizza product, inside which there were all the top quality ingredients to make pizza directly at home”.

Street-food, food-delivery and take-away are also united by the great problem of personalizing packaging, napkins, shoppers; whether it is a start-up or instead of an established reality that also wants to operate in street-food or delivery, both will need to customize their packaging through graphics and printing or through the study of particular structures . “Start-up or new business for existing business, are in open contrast with the numbers, with the production volumes required to amortize costs, if we consider that for a new business, a few thousand if not hundreds of pieces are more than enough”, adds Michele Bondani highlighting the role of a company such as Packaging in Italy, capable of presenting its customers with a kit of customized products to give that image of coordination, of structural design, while addressing for each product to different suppliers, so as to obtain for that single product the best quality at the best price.

The importance of studying materials
“Hot and cold foods have different packaging needs, and the majority of people who decide to face the street-food or delivery sector, ignore the properties of one material rather than another, they improvise, with the consequence that their food and wine offer will be compromised by incorrect packaging or presentation of their product. There are pizza cartons that can manage the problem of hot pizza humidity, thus allowing you to maintain a good temperature without the pizza loses its crunchiness, typical of the freshly baked product. Today, those who want to win in an industry must specialize, and to do so it is essential to cover unattended market spaces and become leaders, forcing competitors to chase. I realize that it is not simple and that in order to do it you have to study and make courageous decisions, but this is the characterizing element of a successful company”, says Bondani.

What is the winning solution?
In a post-Covid market, characterized by great confusion and uncertainty, those who propose solutions capable of responding to the requests for safety and hygiene of consumers, who in recent months have learned to understand the value of a packaged and therefore safe product, will be winning. “I know that in the world of packaging have been developed cartons that are able to protect the product contained in it from bacterial charges. Today, more than communicating the product itself, it is essential to let the consumer know the attention and protection towards his health. In a street-food event, the truck that could propose a packaging solution with these characteristics, would certainly win the challenge”, comments Michele, underlining how the communication of aspects related to health is now much more important from a strategic point of view, in comparison with the product sold.

One sector in which important opportunities for development can be glimpsed is that of bread-making, which must however rediscover its origins, making the most of itself from a strategic and marketing point of view rather than a product. It is precisely from bread ovens that the patisseries were born, which over time have been able to ride the trends, up to the present day where entering a pastry shop is equivalent to living an important shopping experience, enhanced by pleasant environments and finished packaging, capable to enhance the sweets sold. “Operations such as the opening of Starbucks in Milan are part of a precise marketing idea of ​​repositioning and relaunching the bakery sector, which can be reborn with innovative ideas. Whoever can turn his bread oven into a marketing tool will win and certainly the role of packaging in such a strategic vision will never be secondary”.