Restaurant food packaging and its importance for food business
Restaurant Food packaging

We have seen a sudden increase in the food delivery verticle of the restaurant industry as the dine-in business took a hit due to a surge in pandemic and the subsequent imposition of lockdown. The other reason that has contributed to the increase in the food delivery business is the evolution of Food aggregators. It’s not as if food aggregators were non-existing before the pandemic; however, the lockdown has boosted online food delivery, and this trend is here to stay. 

As per the IMARC data, the online food delivery market is poised to reach USD 4.35 billion in 2020 and expects the market to grow at a CAGR of 30.1% during 2021-2026. With these kinds of positive numbers coming from the food delivery business, the food entrepreneurs need to ask if they are ready to exploit these new opportunities. 

Restaurant food packaging is an essential part of food delivery and requires particular standard operating procedures (SOP), especially after the pandemic outbreak. Today clients need assurance that the food delivered is handled hygienically and there is no compromise on health standards. Other than health standards, the packaging needs to keep the food edible, warm and fresh till it reaches the client table.  

Why is restaurant food packaging important in the current scenario?

Packaging other than transporting food hygienically is also a medium through which your customers get cues about the service you provide and the business values you embrace. Below is the importance of food packaging in the delivery verticle:-

Health standards and Hygiene:-

Food is the primary source of the spread of some bacteria, pathogens and pests; as kitchens of restaurants cook a lot of food, it’s essential to maintain safety standards. Food can also get contaminated while packing, transferring or transporting the food; hence it is necessary to see that the food is stored in tamper-proof containers so that it does not come in contact with the external environment by spillage.

Aesthetics of food presentation:-

Everyone wants the food they eat at the hotel dine-in to be aesthetically presentable, and it’s no different for the food delivery. The food delivery also needs to reach the customer the same way instead of all mushed up. The food container needs to keep food upright and wholesome, just the way it was packed. Just imagine if the favorite chaat you just ordered arrives at your doorstep all mushed up and leaking out of the container.

Maintain freshness:-

Some food is meant to be served hot while others are intended to be served cold; maintaining the correct temperature is the most critical step in food delivery. Packaging that maintains the appropriate temperature without altering the taste or reacting with the food should be used by the restaurant

Branding and visualisation:-

Highend food delivery restaurants also have a unique and eye-catching form of packaging. Packaging of food will also influence the food purchasing decision of the client. The brand value of the restaurant has to be augmented through its unique design, colour scheme and quirky brand logo. The restaurant can develop a niche market through its branding and charge a premium for it also.

 Ethical Values:-

Materials like plastic are used extensively in food delivery packaging, causing severe environmental damage and health hazard. The concern for Global warming and environmental protection has gained widespread backing even in countries like India. Plastic and other materials used in the food industry also react chemically and cause long-term health impacts. 

In response to the plastic challenge, some restaurants have started using biodegradable packaging to attract a niche client who cares for the environment even though these products are comparatively expensive. Chuk compostables are one such brand that provides environmentally friendly biodegradable packaging.

Types of restaurant food packaging available in the market and affordability :-

Before you decide on the packaging material and its feasibility, you need to understand the food you deliver and its packaging needs. The packaging should also not chemically react with the food or impact the standard of food in any form. Below are some of the features you need with the food packaging:- 

Sturdiness:-

The delivery container which will be used in transporting the food should be durable. When transporting in the vehicle or two-wheelers, the container should not get damaged or affect the aesthetics of the food, i.e. make food mushy, or the vessel cracked.  

Dimension:-

The delivery container has to be of the exact size; if it becomes too big, the food will be sliding around during transportation, and if it becomes too small, food will be cramped. In both cases, there is a chance of the food getting messy and unappetising.

Easy use:-

The delivery container has to be user friendly. The container should not have sharp edges and should be easy to open and close. If a delivery container is microwave usable, it will be an added advantage and marketed as a plus point.

Material:-

Different types of raw materials are used depending on the kind of food. You will have to store drinks, main dishes, side dishes etc., in the delivery container; likewise, some food will have to be kept at a higher temperature and some at a lower temperature. 

You have to choose an affordable material and, if possible, environment friendly at the same time; below mentioned are some of the options:-

Styrofoam:-

Styrofoam is a type of plastic foam that’s lightweight yet reasonable strong enough to transport food materials. It is used in delivering takeaway liquids and packing material. The added advantage of Styrofoam is that it can insulate cold or hot food. Even though steady, it is less durable than plastic and can be easily crushed if not handled properly. Being non-bio-degradable, it’s harmful to the environment.

Plastic:-

Plastic is by far the most popular material used in packaging food materials in India. It is durable, lightweight, versatile and cost-effective. On the flip side, it can chemically react with certain kinds of food or at a specific temperature and can ooze out toxins. Plastic is one of the most polluting substances and is not biodegradable.

Cardboard:-

Usually used to transport Pizzas and dry food items, cardboard is biodegradable and environment friendly compared to plastic and Styrofoam. Cardboard cannot insulate food or be used to transport liquids.

Aluminium foils:-

Aluminium foils are durable and are perfect for foods like rotis and breads. It does not react with the food and can hold heat well. It is an expensive option when compared to other options; aluminium foils are biodegradable.

Eco-friendly packaging:-

Bio-plastics are biodegradable and a better option compared to plastic. There are lots of environment-friendly packaging options which are made from agricultural waste like sugarcane pulp etc. Compostables are the best option for the environment, however costly compared to other materials.

Conclusion:-

Today, restaurant food packaging has multiple roles in the restaurant industry, from transporting food without contamination to branding medium. Choose the correct type of packaging depending on your needs, the food you deliver and your budget

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