When it comes to effective, safe and healthy food packaging design, a few factors come into play. First there is clear labeling, then there is the packaging itself, and finally there is the representation of the contents on the label so consumers can make a healthy and informed decision.
A recent study conducted by Nielsen deduced that 59% of consumers find it difficult to clearly comprehend nutritional values on food packaging. Moreover, 53% of those polled consider themselves overweight. The study went on to unveil that nearly 60% of consumers have difficulty understanding food packaging labels. The also study demonstrated that consumers are skeptical of the health claims on packaging and contribute to confusing food labels.
Not only is the representation of nutritional facts causing some confusion, but debate over the accuracy of the packaging labels is also causing an uprising. The US is one of the few countries that does not require labeling for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) on our packages. Over 450 environmental, agriculture and parental groups have gotten together to form “JUST LABEL IT: We Have the Right to Know” to inform consumers what is in their foods so they can make informed and healthful decisions for themselves and their families. Consumers in Europe, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China already have such luxuries. And this is just one example of how our package label standards are sub-par.
If it isn’t worrisome enough that our labels are not accurately representing the foods we package, they are also packaged in containers that leach chemicals into our bodies and add to our toxic buildup. Much of our foods, especially those sold in cans and plastic containers, are infused with BPA’s which are suspected carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
Companies such as WholeFoods have created a movement for more transparency with their packaging and they are encouraging a movement towards BPA-free packages. But for widespread wellness, we need widespread concern for the way our products are labeled and stored, and the onus is largely on the design agency. We need to educate our designers on the use of healthy, sustainable packages, transparent labeling and their roles in our everyday health. It is no longer just a matter of sales and aesthetics, our wellness is at play here.
The challenge as marketing strategists, packaging designers and product developers is to create packages that are people friendly, environmentally friendly, and educate the consumers while making financial sense for the company. We’ve got our work cut out for us to revolutionize the way our goods are packaged, but we are up for the challenge. Especially if it means good health…and a design award or two ; )