Modern cheese packaging is big business. So, what are the top 4 cheese packaging factors you need to look out for? Let’s break some things down first…
In 2021, the market value stood at $3.4 billion. By 2029, predictions estimate total value will reach $5.26 billion. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 5.5.%.
Yet earning those customer dollars through traditional cheese packaging has always been about speed over style. Most producers were content churning out over 250 products per minute (ppm) on colossal industrial flow wrappers from the 1960s, giving no mind to the packaging features, formats, and attributes that would help them stand out and maintain long-term success.
Times – and those customers – have changed.
Today’s cheese consumers demand a combination of packaging attributes to accommodate their collective worldview AND deliver the product quality and design customization that makes them feel like producers are trying hard to earn their business.
Considering this, what are these all-important elements set to deliver commercial success in 2023’s cheese packaging sector?
We examine the top 4 cheese packaging attributes you must integrate to stand tall among modern competitors, deliver unparalleled product, and improve savings and your bottom line.
1) DESIGN LONG-TERM PACKAGING
Traditional cheese packaging works at a basic level; but it has all but lost its appeal for modern consumers. Conventional packaging formats, such as plastic flow wrap packaging with an applied zipper, have stagnated and gone stale, driving consumer spending into the pockets of more innovative producers.
In turn, these consumer buying habits are leading cheese packagers to experiment with bolder, more advanced formats, including sophisticated thermoform packaging with integrated peel and reseal capabilities, to satisfy present and future demand and achieve improved sustainability, longer shelf life, and reduced plastic waste.
Designing your cheese packaging with foresight is imperative for form and function. Doing so will ensure the highest levels of safety and longevity AND differentiate your product from your competitors on store shelves.
2) CREATE A STRONG PERCEPTION OF QUALITY & FRESHNESS
Innovative long-term packaging design is only one piece of your modern overhaul. While attributes, such as advanced packaging features, will vary by product and allow for experimentation, you must ALWAYS maintain a positive perception of quality and freshness.
Positive perception of product quality helps you build your brand, but it also influences spend in various production areas, including material costs, your ability to adhere to current packaging design trends (think snack cheese and single-serve formats), ease of packaging, and the application’s process workflow.
The truth is even small changes in cheese packaging design – imperceptible to most clients – can significantly impact operational costs, product marketing, and sustainability.
For example, adding a reclosable seal to cheese packaging can raise the cost per package by a few cents to a few dollars, depending on the size, materials, and number of units produced. However, that cost is often offset by the demand created by the improved convenience, sustainability, customer satisfaction, and positive perception that seal provides.
3) FOCUS FORMATTING AROUND YOUR UNIQUE CUSTOMER
When freshness and format have been settled, it is time to tailor your packaging to your customers’ unique needs and those of your specific product. In cheese packaging, this can mean:
- Integrating rigid, snap-on lids for tray sealing & forming
- Adding bulk to your packaging
- Including exotic elements like thermoformed skin packaging
- Creating die-cut windows for retail appeal and proof of product freshness
- Opting for graphic packaging to align brand messaging
Each step in your consumer-focused packaging design should match your clients’ personas, buying habits, social values, and marketing perceptions. The more precise and accurate you can be, based on data, the more successful your efforts will become.
However, when determining the most effective packaging for your operations and your consumer base, you must also ask:
“Can I produce the package my customers want efficiently and within budget? Will it negatively affect my product if I opt for a certain format?”
Let’s look at an example:
Two popular choices in cheese packaging are Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and vacuum bagging. With MAP, you can add CO2 to your product to preserve it for up to nine months. However, by doing so, you risk drying out your product and compromising freshness.
Conversely, with vacuum bagging, you keep the product and natural flavors the same. But you don’t get the prolonged shelf life you would with MAP.
To avoid the pitfalls of choosing a detrimental and possibly cost-prohibitive format, always consult with your partner Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) before finalizing your design and production. You’ll have the expertise to know what is best for your customers, product quality, and long-term operational costs.
4) EARN A HIGHER PRICE POINT FOR PREMIER CHEESE PACKAGING
Packaging in today’s cheese market is no longer one size fits all. As much as 29% of modern consumers are willing to pay a premium price for premium cheese products. This willingness to pay more can and should work to your advantage.
Allow yourself to set a higher price point for the more expensive additional attributes you integrate into your packaging. Specialty, or artisanal cheese accounts for more than 23% ($4.2 billion) of total U.S. cheese sales ($18 billion) with a much faster sales trajectory compared to conventional cheese sales. The materials and processes necessary for production are more costly and therefore make your product unique.
Sustainability as a Premium Product
Nowhere is this attribute more prevalent in packaging than in integrating reusable or recycled elements for optimal sustainability.
Creating a window into packaging with tray sealing, paying extra for registered film, or adding a reclosable peel and reseal tray lid to reduce waste and extend product shelf life all incur a higher expense. Incorporating these sustainable elements is something you should account for when conducting operational cost analyses and setting price points.
Often, your budget and willingness to innovate will determine whether packaging premium products to meet modern market demand is a viable option. Unfortunately, there may be times when it is not.
Answer these questions:
“What is the overall sustainability and structure of my packaging film I want? How will it give me the best points for the longest time to prove our company is better aligned with consumer sustainability goals than anyone else?”
Opting for basic packaging with industrial-grade equipment, such as a traditional flow wrapper, is an option. It is a practical, high-speed, low-cost way to produce and package cheese.
However, that type of traditional equipment was designed for high-volume producers (250ppm) and not necessarily for your sustainable products or operational volume. You lose the high pricing demand due to how that standard packaging looks and preserves the product.
Determining the appropriate sustainability levels according to your budget, with a comprehensive view of your production line, is crucial at this stage. See where you can implement cost-saving measures – at infeeding, primary and secondary packaging, and palletizing – to free up investment capital for sustainable cheese packaging innovation to better align with the eco-conscious demands of your customers.
FOLLOW SIMPLE STEPS TO PERFECT YOUR CHEESE PACKAGING
Optimizing your cheese packaging operations doesn’t have to be complex. Know your customers and design your packaging around them for the long term. Ensure the product quality and freshness they expect by integrating the new technology and sustainable practices that will set you apart. Following these top 4 cheese packaging factors will help you get the cutting edge you need for your packaging lines.
Always consult with a trusted, experienced OEM like your partners at Harpak-ULMA Packaging.
Contact us today and get the knowledge, expertise, and system resources you need to simplify your cheese production and uncomplicate an increasingly complicated market to meet unique customer demand.