How to Safely Package: Confectionery

Doughnuts on a Plate Confectionery Packaging
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Consumers want to open up the packaging of their favourite chocolate bar, cake, or biscuit and find a product inside that looks appealing. They are put off by broken chocolate or crushed biscuits, and it’s the responsibility of the manufacturers and their packaging providers to make sure that the goods arrive the way they are supposed to, looking as delicious as they taste. To help them do that, packaging plays an incredibly important role for confectionery products, so we’ve put together some insights for how new bakeries and other delightful confectionery businesses can utilise packaging to be its most effective.

Packaging that is suitable for confectionery products

Confectionery products have to be well protected by their packaging, that’s the main priority, but they also have to be attractive enough to make people buy them. What’s more, it should also be easy to open, but not so easy that it falls apart before the consumer wants to eat what’s inside!

To do this efficiently, different confectionery products require different kinds of packaging. Cardboard containers, glass jars, plastic containers, waxed paper, cardboard inserts, aluminium foil, twist wrappers, and roll wrappers are some of the most popular and useful products available on the market, for example.

Some companies, like Cadbury’s, store and ship goods like their ‘Amazebites’, small bite-size cake pieces, in cardboard and plastic tubs. This allows for a large volume of the product to take up space without fear of damage during storage or travel. Many chocolate bars, such as Fry’s Chocolate Cream, use a combination of foil and paper, while more delicate bars may add a layer of cardboard, or package the bar entirely in cardboard (such as the Marmite chocolate bar), to avoid unnecessary damage.

Jams, jellies, and preserves, on the other hand, are usually packaged in clear, glass jars with a metal lid, which allows them to be viewed by the consumer as well as stored safely for the long term.

When shipping confectionery products, cardboard dividers within the boxes, and bubble wrap protecting the items, can be a highly effective way of avoiding damage during transit. This helps to prevent disappointed customers and shops returning goods to the manufacturer for replacement, for instance.

Things change, however, when confectionery products are being sold fresh to the consumer in a supermarket environment. Frequently presented unpackaged and piled high, simple bags — either paper or clear plastic — are used to keep the items fresh and prevent surface damage to the items being purchased. There is quite a distinction between these products and products packed ready for the consumer to buy from other brands.

Consumer concerns about packaging

While it is true that today’s consumers look for stylish and innovative packaging on the products they buy, there is also an increasing awareness and concern about the environmental impact of the packaging of their favourite snacks and confectionery.

For example, some manufacturers are guilty of falling into the trap of creating packaging that is too large for the product it contains, leaving empty space. This can disappoint the buyer when they open it up to find that there is actually less of the product they had hoped for; perhaps prompting negative feelings towards value for money. Similarly it is also wasteful and uses more energy and raw materials to produce.

To fit the modern consumer’s concerns over the environment, as well as to produce a positive consumer experience, packaging must now stand out but is not also not be overly extravagant (or over-sized) to be considered a good solution for all concerned. Packaging that is also recyclable and what uses less material overall can be a popular preference amongst consumers, and this contributes to a brand’s sense of environmental responsibility.

New and innovative packaging alternatives are popping up all the time, such as a can made up of a film coating made of whey from the dairy industry, for example. Using the ‘Wheylayer’ method, whey protein can take the place of plastic, which provides a more sustainable option that is biodegradable and available in unlimited quantities — and can even extend the shelf life of food. This can be a brilliant use of packaging for food startups wanting to differentiate themselves from the supermarkets.

Gift packaging of confectionery products

Confectionery is always a popular gift, whether it’s taking fresh cupcakes to a friend’s house or offering high-end macarons or luxury chocolates as a birthday or wedding gift.

For that reason, confectionery companies need to be aware that the role of their packaging is not just to protect their product and attract the attention of a buyer, but that it may also be to look especially appealing as a gift. Companies can therefore brand their packaging in such a way that it catches a shopper’s eye, and also demonstrate its quality to a gift recipient. For example, some confectionery companies, such as Thornton’s, offer some of their products already wrapped up, explicitly positioning them in the gift market. Others may rely on stylish and attractive packaging, on top of the quality of the product, to place the product in the consumer’s mind as a potential present.

Shoppers also appreciate packaging that looks premium when they are shopping for presents for hosts, friends, or relatives. For instance, a survey of German consumers found that 45% of shoppers looked for a ribbon or other decorative element on packaging, so that gift wrapping it themselves is unnecessary, while one in two wanted to be able to serve the product directly from the pack in a way that was attractive.

It is also worth remembering that consumers are also willing to pay more for confectionery that is packaged nicely. Great packaging increases the perception of value and quality, which in turn can impact the price people are willing to pay.

Different packaging needs for different situations

As previously mentioned, the way a product is packaged depends on how it is served and what purpose it is going to play; freshly cooked doughnuts from a supermarket are usually served in simple, disposable, see-through bags, while extravagant boxes of chocolates can have elegant packaging that makes them easy to gift to friends and family.

Getting products safely from A to B will vary according to not only the product, but also the way it must be stored: some confectionery items need refrigeration or freezing, while others are fine in cool, dry conditions. Sometimes, such as when delivering a hand-made wedding cake to a venue, careful, extensive packaging will be utilised while, when a 3PL is delivering 250 manufactured cupcakes to a supermarket, a more streamlined, minimal use of external packaging may be called for.

Additionally, storage instructions must be specified by the manufacturer and strictly adhered to, and packaging should be created and managed in such a way that it makes it easy to observe these instructions. For more information on how to safely package products, head on over to our Packaging Clinic.

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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