Trend Alert: Single-Serve Packaging

by Mike Malz

Have you ever gone to buy food from your favorite take-out place only later to realize there is no way you’ll be able to finish the entire thing? You’re not the only one. Many brands understand consumers do not want to waste their money buying products that are too much to consume for one person alone. That’s why there’s a new trend toward single-serve packaged products.


A New Age of Packaging

A new reality has brought on this trend, as times are constantly changing in conjunction with evolving markets. Packaging Strategies’ Liz Cuneo says the aging population has forced many pharmaceutical companies to make their products more accessible and user-friendly.

“Packaging improvements should address basic functions like holding and carrying the package, reading the label, and opening and closing so that this age group can do these functions more easily,” she says.

Another reason companies are producing single-serve packaging is because of urbanization. Cuneo says people are living more modern lifestyles, leaving them always on the move. Buyers want to consume products that are on-the-go and have them in single portions to limit environmental waste.

That is exactly what The Barton Group of New York had in mind when they created the SqueezyStraw Pouch. Packaging Strategies reported the product to be in a clear package, an eight-ounce milk serving that requires no straw or cup. Lew Barton, president of The Barton Group, says this is one of the most cost-effective and innovative products their company has produced to date.

“First of all, the [pouch] is much less expensive. Our market information indicates that the current cost of the paper carton is approximately 6¢ each. The Stand Up SqueezyStraw Pouch is estimated to cost less than 4¢ each in large volume quantities (50,000,000 packs/year or more),” he explains.

The single-serve milk container is also portion-controlled. Because the packaging is clear, manufacturers can see when the container is at its maximum. Furthermore, the package is squeezable, so milk comes out more effectively.

Packaging designers have brainstormed ways to make people’s lives easier while also taking their health into consideration. According to WGSN, designers have worked with companies that range from tea to health product manufacturers and produce packaging that will meet the needs of their consumers. Many of these packaging elements are visually appealing, environmentally friendly, and practical.


Food for One

Graphic designers have revamped take-out containers, ensuring the box itself will not close if it’s too full. This ensures portion control and easy transportation. Food and drink packaging will also include practical elements such as handles and straws for those who are always on the go.

They have also designed the packaging to be eye-catching, with bright colors and different shapes. This was done for social media purposes, making it that much easier for brands to display their products across multiple platforms. Lastly, the packaging will be reusable, so there is no extra waste. With its smaller size, it will reduce waste to an even greater degree.

Meanwhile, candy and pastry companies have turned to packaging gurus like Crumb and Volta Brand for their new designs. Both have simple yet photographic packaging that is in a ready-to-eat format. These packaging designs are so well-made that they wouldn’t need to be wrapped if they were to be given as a gift. It’s yet another example of efficient packaging for those who lead busy lives.

Many tea companies have also been creative with their packaging. For example, Korefe’s new line of tea bags are in the shape of handbags and were inspired by Berlin Fashion Week, which will appeal to social media fans. Another interesting play on packaging comes from Mati Papalini, who designs pill packaging for tea. One side of the package comprises tea for those looking to be energized while the other side calms and relaxes.


Medicine on the Go

Healthcare companies want to ensure their clients can take their medicine wherever they are. Clear and simple packaging was always the aim for the industry, as they wanted to ensure all information on packaging is legible and straightforward. That’s why businesses like European agency PARO are designing a prototype that provides customized vitamin and mineral doses based on each individual’s personal needs.

In terms of potential positive impact, it’s a long way (for the better) from mere take-out, but it’s actually two sides of the very same coin. Regardless of the disparity in use cases, the innovation only bodes well for the packaging industry overall.

There is no question that industry leaders need to keep up with packaging trends, no matter how much they like their current design. The goal for these packaging designers is to make consumers’ lives easier. Times are changing and businesses must understand the needs of their clients beyond the use of their products. Packaging designers are hearing what the public is saying: Make our lives easier! It also wouldn’t hurt if the design is too stylish to pass up.

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