Ed. note: For more information and to enter the QSR/FPI Foodservice Packaging Awards, visit www2.qsrmagazine.com/packaging-awards.
Innovative. Customizable. Compostable. These are three of the trends that Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) expects to see at the QSR-FPI Foodservice Packaging Awards at FPI’s fall meeting in St. Louis.
Historically overlooked in favor of other business considerations like food preparation and POS systems, packaging is no less vital to an operation.
“All too often the operators don’t think about the packaging until they develop an all-new item,” Dyer says. “We’re really here to help them.”
She also encourages restaurants to take advantage of FPI’s resources since membership is free for all foodservice operators. Since the institute covers 85-95 percent of all food packaging in North America, it can help restaurants find partners and solutions to match their needs.
While Dyer will wait until the award winners are announced to discuss any specific innovations from this year, she can point to a larger shift in the industry toward compostable packaging.
“One of the biggest long-term trends is interest in green or sustainable or environmentally friendly packaging. I think we’ll continue to see more. I think that the operators are interested in that,” she says.
Restaurants are increasingly interested in making sure their packaging is either recyclable or compostable, Dyer says. And because more operators are recovering and composting food waste, they are similarly interested in creating receptacles that are compostable—not to be confused with “biodegradable,” which is a more nebulous term, she adds.
Restaurants are also seeking more customized packaging, which Dyer says could be partially chalked up to the Millennial generation and its penchant for individualization.
“We see more and more attention being paid to the packaging itself and operators recognizing that the packaging is an extension of their brand,” Dyer says. “They're looking for more customized packaging whether it's the colors or the shapes or the sizes or whatever it happens to be. It's no longer one size fits all.”
Aside from these larger trends, Dyer is especially curious to see this year’s submissions, which are open to international brands, as well.
Since the North American market is so large, Dyer says it can be easier for smaller markets to test unusual designs. Some past examples include a South American McDonald’s that had a plastic container in the shape of Ronald McDonald’s hand and a German Burger King’s paperboard container for wraps with a perforated mark that would tear, allowing customers to hold the wrap as they eat.
“The packaging awards is always a very exciting time for us,” Dyer says. “It will be interesting to see what pops up.”
For more information on FPI and the host of resources available, Dyer encourages operators to visit http://www.fpi.org/Products.
By Nicole Duncan