Why Restaurants Are Switching to Intelligent Packaging

We've all ordered our favorite food online at least once from a local restaurant, and it was cold when it arrived at our doorstep. Events like this not only ruined our entire eating experience, but also prevented us from ordering food from this restaurant for a while. 

Restaurant owners are trying to solve this problem by choosing the right packaging option. Restaurant owners are using intelligent packaging to keep food warm, hygienic, presentable, and ready to eat from kitchen to customer plate. Online food delivery and takeaway concept boomed amidst pandemic and continues to gain momentum till today. Multiple restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other food stores integrated takeout and at home delivery to their services to gain customers and keep their business afloat during the crisis. 

We will discuss the influence of intelligent packaging on food quality perception in takeaway food industry, and how restaurant owners are leveraging intelligent packaging to re-establish their position post-pandemic, taking into account key trends highlighted in the recently concluded webcast by ESOMAR-certified research firm Future Market Insights (FMI) on the “Intelligent Packaging Adoption: Who are the Frontrunners?

What Makes Intelligent Packaging So Popular 

Cross-contamination at a restaurant refers to the transmission of germs or other hazardous microorganisms from food, equipment, or humans to food. This can happen at any point in the food preparation process, including the packing of meals for takeaway and delivery. Intelligent food packaging is tamper-proof and protects food from cross-contamination that may occur during the transfer of food from a restaurant to the client.

Our senses determine how we perceive and enjoy our meal experience. Intelligent packaging option not only keeps the food intact but also ensures that food looks appetizing as it would in a restaurant. Meal’s quality, freshness, and temperature are some one of the most critical factors consumer take into account while ordering food. 

Delivery of cold food leads to loss of customer. Intelligent packaging solutions like time temperature indicators and biosensors notifies the consumer about the freshness and temperature of the dish as it arrives while secondary packaging solutions ensures that food remains warm. 

Intelligent packaging provides added appeal to the traditional packaging, making it presentable and appetizing.  Research has shown that 72 percent of Americans say that packaging design affects their buying decisions. 

Intelligent packaging allows restaurant owners to charge premium amount for well packaged meal, as consumers believe that sustainable packaging has a higher perceived value. As per the findings from the webcast, younger generations are opting for intelligent packaging and are willing to spend extra bucks for eco-friendly packaging. Furthermore, nearly 50 percent of the population is preferring eco-friendly material for packaging.

Restaurants Are Stepping up their Online Food Delivery Game through Smart and Sustainable Packaging  

Today’s food packaging has moved beyond practicality and has incorporated security and marketing. In 2020, many restaurants closed their dining rooms and used online food delivery services to not only protect their staff and customers but also to stay relevant and connected with their customers. According to Future Market Insights, since 2021, online food delivery services market is growing at over 9.5 percent CAGR, with expected revenue to surpass US$ 1026 Bn by 2031. 

 As per the finding from the webcast, ready-to-eat food sales will generate 2X latent demand of intelligent packaging; with sales of intelligent packaging in Ready-to-eat industry will reach US$ 2593 Mn by 2031. Thus for restaurants who have just added an online ordering system, this means that having the right takeaway and intelligent packaging is absolutely essential to attract and retain customers.

As people still want to be amazed by the experience of eating at home, restaurant owners are using innovative intelligent and personalized packaging options to make their food feel like a complete meal before the consumer eats it.  By leveraging smart and interactive packaging solutions, business owners are generating buzz around their food items and are looking to surprise existing customers and attract new ones.

KFC recently announced its new sleek, clean and modernized packaging that reflects the brand’s identity and aims at creating balance between business and environmental sustainability. It also features reheating instructions for takeaway and home delivery services. The packagings are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard and are approved for labeling by How2Recycle.

Restaurants Switching Toward Eco-friendly Takeaway Containers

Majority of people believe that compostable packaging can be thrown away with the rest trash and it will decompose on its own. However, the reality is compostable packaging are designed to be decomposed and processed in commercial composting facilities that provide the right environment for composting in a short period of time. If these packages are not disposed properly, they end up in landfills and cannot be considered as a truly "environmentally friendly" solution. 

Future Market Insights reported that containers and packaging products make up the majority of municipal waste, accounting for 82.2 million tonnes or 28.1 percent of overall waste generated in 2021. Companies are rapidly adopting intelligent packaging solutions to avoid such huge waste. Earlier restaurants bought expensive takeaway compostable packages in the hope that they will be a more environmentally friendly alternative for disposable plastics. 

 However, packaging manufacturers are taking charge and are using eco-friendly materials to develop bio-compostable packaging suitable for restaurant and takeaway applications.  For instance, CHUK, a compostable tableware brand, recently launched a 100 percent compostable bagasse based food delivery solution. This sustainable food delivery solution covers the entire food delivery ecosystem, including Quick Serve Restaurants, dark kitchens, delivery kitchens and cloud kitchens. 

Similarly, Eco Products® recently announced the addition of seven new items to the Vanguard™ series. These two-piece compostable takeaway containers are made from plant-based sugar cane fiber and are certified as compostable. 

What Does the Future Look Like?

From protecting food from harmful bacteria to promoting your brand, intelligent packaging brings many benefits to restaurant and takeaway business. However, to rebuild their business post pandemic, they must make wise choices about packaging. Consumers are becoming very environment conscious and are paying close attention to the behavior and packaging practices of the brands that they trust and support.

Restaurant owners are employing intelligent packaging solution to help them in selecting eco-friendly material more suitable for their application and ensure the health and safety of their customers by delivering food safely. 

Takeaway packaging industry is undergoing transition. Significant shifts across the entire value chain are becoming commonplace, as more than 80 percent of development is focused on sustainability. The cross-functionality of biodegradable restaurant delivery containers will be explored in more detail due to its ability to reduce waste and provide significant cost savings. 

Intelligent packaging in restaurant setting aims at not only reducing the amount of packaging waste but also promote recycling of compostable and reusable packaging. Given the highly dynamic nature of smart packaging, top restaurant chains and online delivery services around the world want to establish a balance between innovation and functionality with a focus on deploying personalized but highly sustainable food packaging solutions. 

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