Snacking occasions are only increasing, and consumers are more often looking for fresh foods when they reach for between-meal pick-me-ups. This puts pressure on packaging suppliers to offer the right options for the right products.

“Recent research show snackers are choosing healthier options, an increase of 28 percent compared to last year, and the biggest rise in snacking trends is for ‘fresh’ foods, such as fruits and vegetables,” says Sarah Hobson, product manager for Inline Plastics. “Packaging products that extend the shelf-life, provide a clear and visible view of the ‘freshness’ of the contents, combined with a tamper-evident and leak resistant seal, are all factors that encourage consumers to pick up a package and bring it to the register, rather than leave it on the shelf.”

For Placon, when it comes to lending a hand to retailers as they target consumers who are snacking multiple times throughout the day, access and portability are key.

“Packaging can help retailers serve consumers in the snacking category by providing different options and merchandising configurations the meet the growing demand of the snacking grab-and-go category,” says Ben Brummerhop, sales manager of stock food for Placon. “Consumers are busy and need freshly prepared and snack-sized food available at all times for convenience.”

Placon is adding a new snack-sized packaging line to its stock food offerings this spring. The unreleased line will include four different configurations and ounce capabilities for easy customization, according to Brummerhop. But he also points out that many of the company’s established food packaging product lines can be used for the snacking and grab ‘n go applications.

“Although Placon has always focused on a full line of standard offerings for family service, catering, traditional deli and more, recently our focus has shifted to single-serve product line offerings for individual snacks and freshly prepared foods,” Brummerhop says, specifically pointing out Placon’s Fresh ‘N Clear GoCubes and Crystal Seal refresh lines, which are tamper-evident solutions that offering merchandising options for on-the-go convenience and snacking.

“Placon continues to grow our product lines to meet customer needs and industry trends,” he says. “It is important to stay relevant, while providing innovative solutions for the end-user.”

Inline’s Safe-T-Fresh line is the most popular when it comes to snack-sized packaging, Hobson says.

“it includes our pioneering tamper-resistant and tamper-evident tear-strip packaging,” she says. “The Essentials line incorporates a vast variety of clam shell and two-piece packaging options that have been food market staples for decades. Both brands offer a variety of shapes and sizes to meet the unique needs and applications for each of our customers.”

Making it work

A number of issues should be considered when choosing the right packaging for your snacking products. First, most notably, is sizing.

“The sizing of snack-sized containers is important,” Hobson says. “Retailers need to find the right balance between pack size and price. Snack packs that are too big, or priced too high, will result in customers looking for alternative options.”

Brummerhop points out the importance of multi-compartments and added safety and security when it comes to snack foods.

“Multi-compartments give the merchandiser unlimited options to create exciting, delicious, and nourishing snacks for consumers and families with time-crunched schedules,” he says. “Multi-compartments ensure ingredients are safely kept separate with consistent portion sizing, separating and highlighting specific ingredients while keeping food looking better and tasting fresher for longer.”

The tamper-evident properties of packaging can provide further safety and security, so consumers can grab snacks quickly while knowing they are purchasing items that have not been altered, damaged or interfered with in any way.

Secure seals and exceptional clarity is also important in snack sized packaging, allowing consumers to see what they are purchasing and confirm the snacks stay in place in the packaging when they are on the move,” Brummerhop says.

Outside of those issues, Hobson says, all other consumer considerations for food packaging still apply to snack-sized items.

“These include being clean, easy-to-use and leak resistant,” she says. “They want clear packaging so the foods are easy to see and the freshness is visible.”

Some foods can provide more challenging to package in smaller portions, such as items that are peeled or shelled. A hard-boiled egg, for example, requires special consideration when packaging in smaller amounts, Brummerhop says. Also, discoloration must be taken into consideration with products like that.

This is why multi-compartment options are best so snacks can stay fresh for longer and colors remains true when products are packaged together or next to others on the shelf,” he says. “In addition, sizing is crucial when it comes to packaging in smaller amounts. It is vital to get the proportions correct and ratio of one snack to the other, especially in the dip and dippers scenario.”

Placon developed packaging for Justin’s Snack Packs that include a compartment for dips and spreads and is also peggable. Versatility like this is key, Brummerhop says.

“It is important to offer innovative packaging solutions so a variety of merchandising options and applications are available,” he says. “This versatility in packaging will allow for solutions to multiple problems as snack-sized foods become available in an on-the-go format.”

For Inline, providing retailers with snack-sized options that are peggable is an important step. The company’s Safe-T-Fresh Hangables allows retailers to merchandise snack packs and grab a customer’s attention in spaces that might not otherwise be used,

“Retail shelving space is valuable and at a premium,” Hobson says. “For example, using our Hangables on cooler doors or on a register rack can entire those last-minute purchases, resulting in added sales for the retailer.”