Foodservice Branded Disposables- What are the Benefits/Pitfalls

Posted by Dennis White on 5 February 2014

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Disposable products are all around us, from paper bags to hold your pasty, to coffee cups for your latte on the move, to sandwich packs that keep your BLT in one piece. They are such an integral part of our society that we hardly notice them, but we do notice them when they don’t fulfil their use.

Who’s had burnt fingers from a coffee cup that was too thin to handle the heat of the coffee.  We all remember things that don’t perform.  If fact, the strength of the brand is put to test by the quality of its disposable. If you had a high quality product and put it into a poor functioning disposable,   your brand quality would be diminished by the disposable. Hence it always pays a manufacturer to put their wares into the best disposable that fulfils the basic need of safeguarding their product, and allowing the customer to consume the product.

The general public is also more likely to spend more money on a product whose packaging is fit for purpose, and in fact becomes just as important as its contents. I wouldn’t dream of buying a cooked Panini from a company that just puts it into a greaseproof paper bag, mine would have to be in a corrugated card holder, so I could eat it hot without burning my fingers (and not getting grease on them from the hot cheese!) I still have trouble eating a pasty in the car, the flaky pastry gets everywhere!

So if you have a good product, not only do you want people to enjoy the taste, they have to enjoy the experience if eating it.  If it is instantly recognisable, other people can see you are eating/drinking that product hence the strong branding comes to the fore. Other people see your product being enjoyed and consider buying it too.

Over the years coffee cups are now triple walled to protect your fingers, paper bags have water resistant linings, smoothie cups are printed in 6 colours to look so enticing.  Salad boxes are made of card or plastic, and of course recyclable. Customers expect to be able to buy the product, transport it, keep the food inside hot (or cold), eat it with ease and then discard the container guilt free.   

So, your packaging must be fit for purpose, be attractive, keep your product intact, portable, keep things hot or cold, easy to use, easy to discard and make others want to buy it.

But of course, branding your disposable also means higher unit costs, manufacturer minimum production runs, long lead times, accurate sales planning, labelling legislation, designer costs and storage.

So why would you go through all of this extra work? Simple!  Branded goods in quality packaging demand a higher selling price than non branded goods in basic packaging. You will make more profit and your brand will get exposure to help to grow it beyond the local area, possibly take it international.