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Pride and packaging

John Young, sales and marketing director at KeCo Foodservice Packaging, offers advice to chip shop owners on what to consider when purchasing disposable packaging

How important is packaging to the overall takeaway offering? Consumers can’t get enough of eating on-the-go. Insight company IGD predicts that the food-to-go sector could be worth £23.5bn by 2022, which is huge – so it’s vitally important that you set your outlet ahead of its competition. Packaging and how you choose to present your offerings to customers is a key consideration, and not only affects the overall appeal of your menu but the overall appearance and perception of your outlet to customers and potential customers – very often being the difference between securing repeat custom or not. Offering takeaway choices in disposables which feel substantial and which are of a premium quality really adds to the eating experience.

So where should shops start? It’s vital that any food packaging looks the part, after all, consumers buy with their eyes. So whether it’s branded or unbranded; modern, contemporary disposables with muted, more natural and subtle colour schemes are often preferable. Off-the-shelf disposables, like our Retro range, which offers strong visual appeal and are of quality manufacture, are great from a practical point of view – particularly for new menus or start-up ventures, before investment into bespoke packaging is made.

Do you recommend branded packaging? Investing in branded packaging is a real benefit, as packaging acts as a fantastic marketing tool that you should be taking advantage of. Take the time to work alongside an expert, like those who make up our experienced creative team, to create a bespoke range of disposables which really sets you apart from the rest. Feature your brand logo, slogan, colours or promotional message to really add a point of difference and make your outlet and its offerings stand out from the crowd.

If your fish, chips and other menu items look the part, do them justice and be sure to show them off by serving them in quality, customised packaging. This can be a great way of influencing customers, who will be envious of what they see others eating and therefore are more likely to give your outlet a try.

At KeCo Foodservice Packaging, our creative team is able to assist with developing impactful designs which captivate customers. Using the latest technological developments, such as augmented reality and QR codes, we can help you convey messages – be it a specific promotion or key information about the sourcing of your ingredients, such as where you source your fish and potatoes from.

How can a shop reflect its brand values in its packaging? Packaging choices which align with and suit the foods being served are important. If you’ve chosen to support British farmers when buying your potatoes, or source sustainable fish, share this with your customers and reflect your buying credentials in your packaging choices.

Disposables like those manufactured by KeCo in the UK, are made from sustainably sourced virgin fibre material. Ranges which are manufactured in kraft brown carton board don’t just look natural but offer a quality appearance and feel. Being recyclable, the brown earthy look of the disposables adds further appeal to consumers who are particularly conscious about the environment.

KeCo also offer disposables made from bagasse, a fibrous waste material from sugar cane production. This sturdy packaging is a great off the shelf choice, which is biodegradable and compostable. 

How can packaging help with portion sizes? Ordering disposable packaging in a variety of sizes will help control portions and therefore profit. Having a choice of three sizes, where appropriate – small, medium and large – will ensure that a correctly portioned food order is supplied to customers.  This is especially useful during busy service periods, when it’s all too easy to fill up the containers.  Choosing the correct portion size to fulfil the order will also help reduce food waste. Also stocking disposables which are suitable for children’s meals is important too. Our Kids Bitz meal boxes are perfect for little people, with fun games and activities to keep them occupied; and vibrant, colourful designs to capture their imaginations.

With so many mixed messages about what is and isn’t environmentally friendly, what advice would you give to shops looking for a solution? It’s easy and no surprise to see why people are confused – not just friers, but consumers too. There’s a huge amount of confusion and misinformation around; largely because those with limited knowledge tend to make a lot of noise, often without the depth of understanding to do so! This influences behaviour as snippets of news are believed to be wholly truthful.

For friers wishing to be environmentally friendly and who have a choice about the packaging they purchase, a safe bet at this time would be to buy products which can be recycled. The concept of recycling packaging has been around a long time now, so it’s not new news; and the continued expansion of recycling collections and facilities opening up is a result of the current environmental pressures. Consumer households have long been encouraged to recycle, so it’s not an unknown practice either.  Arguably though, compostable products which carry the ‘seedling’ logo can be recycled and are significantly better in landfill than other conventional materials such as plastic or plastic-coated products.

Products which are labelled as biodegradable can also be disposed of with general waste that goes to landfill, but these facilities will lack some of the ‘ideal’ criteria – such as oxygen – which aids this type of waste to biodegrade more quickly.

What one piece of advice would you offer? Don’t lose sight of the fact that packaging needs to do a job. It needs to present food choices in a practical way which is fit for purpose – to keep foods hot without them going soggy; to prevent grease from coating whatever the disposable comes in to contact with; and to protect the food whilst it’s being carried or packed away for consumption later.  Consumers want – and expect – quality, portable, re-sealable packaging. Make sure you try out different options first so that you are sure they work not only for your product but also your operation. Do you have the time and the staff available to put together boxes for example? On the other hand, do you have the storage needed for ready-made packaging? They may seem small factors but they could be extremely important in the decision-making process.

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