With everything from marketing and branding to menu development and promotions capturing the attention of quick-service brands and operators, it often seems like packaging doesn’t get its due. But as consumers become more sophisticated and discerning about where they spend their time and money, brands are discovering that packaging has the potential to be the differentiator that captures share of stomach.

With so many orders leaving the store either through takeout or the drive thru, packaging also presents an opportunity for brands to replicate their in-store environment and brand message for guests to carry with them outside the unit, says Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

“Because it is more and more being tied to the brand itself, [packaging is] part of the image for the brand, so that’s why you often are seeing more operators thinking more about the packaging that they’re using and how it lends itself to the brand, or what the message is they’re trying to convey,” she says.

And just as trends come and go with every other aspect of the business, so, too, do trends emerge in the field of packaging. Over the last few years, sustainable packaging in particular has become not just an option, Dyer says, but a given.

“Now, almost everything you see has some sort of green story to it, because that environmentally conscious customer wants to think about their package,” she says.

It’s in this spirit of exploring trends and innovations that QSR and the Foodservice Packaging Institute partnered to hold the QSR/FPI Foodservice Packaging Awards. With nearly 200 entries submitted, judges had plenty to consider and be impressed by. As always, choosing a handful of winners for five separate categories was a difficult task, but our panel of packaging and branding experts was up to the task.

See the Winners >

Restaurant Operations, Special Reports, Sustainability, Bojangles, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Subway