Takeout opportunities cannot be overlooked nor taken for granted. Consumers increasingly have grown to expect convenience when ordering food to-go or bringing home leftovers, and proper disposable packaging is a major consideration in the convenience equation. So much so, in fact, that the market for single-use containers, wrappers, cups, and utensils is expected to reach $17 billion by the end of the decade, per the Environmental Defense Fund.
Good packaging begins with meeting customers’ needs. So, what are consumers hoping to find when they get their food to-go? More than eight of 10 (83%) want packaging that does not allow food to leak from the bottom or sides of the container, and nearly three-fourths (72%) are looking for a container that stays sealed at the top. Three-fifths of consumers (62%) are hoping that their food will remain warm in the to-go packaging that is provided, and almost half (46%) want food to remain separated within the package (if there is more than one meal component in a given container). Essentially, your clientele is asking that the meal they take out from your establishment appear as pristine when they get it home as it would if served in-house.
Many of your customers also want to be environmentally responsible when taking food to-go. With 50% percent of consumers indicating that using green to-go packaging (made from renewable resources, recycled materials, biodegradable, reusable, etc.) is very or somewhat important to them, you can attract and retain customers â€”as well as better the earth â€”by switching to environmentally friendly disposables. Though these types of products may cost a bit more, one-third of consumers (34%) report they are very or somewhat willing to pay more for green packaging, and only 16% report they are not willing to pay more.
Tips from the Environmental Defense Fund
The Environmental Defense Fund provides several tips for making green choices in to-go packaging. Your selection of disposables should be based upon three main factors:
1. Buy packaging made from renewable resources, such as Monogram Sustain, or those with high levels of post-consumer recycled material. (Post-consumer recycled materials are those that served their original purpose and get incorporated into a new product or package.) Also, wherever possible, use brown, unbleached paper products.
2. Reduce size and weight of containers by choosing those that are appropriately sized to the product, thus achieving significant waste reduction. Eliminating disposable trays can also result in savings on packaging.
3. Recycle. After all attempts have been made to reduce container size/weight and achieve high levels of recycled content, select containers that can be recycled in your locality.
For customers who take home leftovers, consider providing an indicator on the disposable container, to let them know when the food is no longer safe to consume (a â€˜best byâ€™ date), or a label that explains how to re-heat and serve the leftovers (54% and 51%, respectively, of consumers agree with each idea). Most important is that these ideas function as another way to be in touch with your customers once they’re out the door.
The takeout packaging you select provides a window to your restaurant’s image and offers a great opportunity to impress customers with stylish, functional and environmentally correct options. Higher-quality disposables show you care about the overall experience at your restaurant, and that your concern extends beyond the moment your customers walk out the door.
All data points, unless otherwise noted, are provided by Technomic, Inc.