When COVID-19 first hit a year and a half ago, demand for bakery food packaging went down for most product types within the instore bakery. Single-serve bakery packaging, however, held steady and even saw a little bit of growth as the pandemic waged war on retail bakeries. 

Since, many grocery bakeries have become reliant on commissaries and third-party kitchens to produce fresh bakery products. The demand for single-serve has been growing across bakery categories — and getting the packaging right for those single-serve products is crucial.

“Everyone’s awareness of cleanliness and clean practices is up and single-serve containers have really been a huge hit with that,” said Garrett Haglin, director of marketing and product development for Baxter, Minn.-based LINDAR Corporation.

Single-serve containers allow for increased food safety measures. Haglin pointed out that many bakery items that may not have been served in a single-serve version before the pandemic are now being served in single-serve packaging to prevent customers from accidentally touching a product they’re not going to consume.

LINDAR has received more requests for single-serve packaging designed for cupcakes, muffins, cookies, smaller pies, and even cinnamon rolls over the last year-and-a-half.

Meanwhile, Richmond, Calif.-based Novacart has also seen an uptick in the variety of packaging retailers and suppliers are requesting for single-serve bakery.

Marc McGregor, the company’s national sales manager over North America, has noticed more requests for packaging that holds single-serve cheesecakes, fruit cakes and crumbles, cinnamon rolls and cornbread.

“Because of COVID our customers need packaging more for safety reasons and needing to have products wrapped up,” said McGregor. “They’re looking for more protective packaging that doesn’t leave the product out in the open. Now, our customers are looking for ways they can still have that safety aspect, but still show value in the product.”


Sustainably minded customers

Now more than ever, consumers are sustainably minded and want to know the packaging keeping their food safe has as little of an environmental impact as possible. Both LINDAR and Novacart offer sustainable packaging options.

As packaging has evolved over the last few years, consumers are more interested in the materials used to manufacture the packaging.

“People are thinking green, about being conservative and wanting to push for clean products,” said Haglin. “All of our materials are highly recyclable and any waste that’s generated from the manufacturing process is turned back around and put back into the material stream.”

The company offers four different material types that all offer different sustainable advantages:

  • Virgin PET – Offers excellent recyclability.
  • Recycled PET – Made with 25-100% post-industrial content with excellent recyclability.
  • Post Consumer Recycled – Made with up to 100% post-consumer curbside content
  • Plant-Based Plastics – Made from annually renewable plant-based sources that are biodegradable and can be reused by consumers.

The paper Novacart uses in its packaging is sourced from 100% fiber drawn from renewable forests. The company uses the recyclable paper to make the most of its packaging, and the company is testing a compostable line in its European market.

“We’ve launched a fully compostable product that can be sealed with a compostable film to be fully home-compostable,” said McGregor., adding on that Novacart is looking at introducing the product to the North American market.


Straight from the oven to the shelf

Novacart’s freestanding paper baking molds allow for bake-and-sell convenience so that products can straight from the oven to the shelf in the same container.

“The benefit of our items is at a large commissary they could par bake it to a certain percent and then send it off frozen to the stores where they can finish off the product in the mold and then snap on a label and put it on the shelf,” said McGregor. “It saves a step from using metal pans and washing, cleaning and storing them.”

For single-serve products, Novacart’s newest product line, Ecos Series, is the most popular choice for retailers. Offered in a variety of sizes—both circular and rectangular— Ecos Series packaging is made with and features:

  • Cardboard stock with a beaded rim
  • PET-Laminated interior
  • Oven safe up to 390 degrees F
  • Microwave and freezer safe
  • Free-standing
  • Grease and warp resistant
  • Optional lid sold separately

The lids for the paper molds give customers a clear view of the product and can be used in stacked displays.

“Our product offers more of a sustainable, environmental-looking package that looks higher-end so that the consumer perceives the product as higher-end,” McGregor said. “In the last year, we’re getting a lot of people who traditionally looked at our package line as a little more expensive who came to us because they needed product and once they started using it they find it very difficult to go back.”


Made to fit the product

Product-tailored packaging is high on the average retail bakery’s packaging priority list, according to Haglin.

“High desired is the form and custom-fit for our products to our customers products — designing packaging around the cookie, around the cake or the pie so that it nestles the product and doesn’t allow for the product inside to be tossed around so much,” Haglin said.

LINDAR offers a wide variety of shapes and sizes of packaging for single-serve muffins, cupcakes, and other desserts. Haglin highlighted the company’s newest line, SIMPLY SECURE, which offers a tamper-evident solution for single-serve products.

All packaging in the SIMPLY SERURE line includes a built-in Freshness Seal.

Available in the two-piece and hinged varieties, LINDAR’S Simply Secure Tamper Obvious Packaging has special tabs that snap into place to secure the product while in stores. To open the package, the perforated tabs can be simply torn off, making it user friendly, while easily identifiable if the container has been opened.

LINDAR’s packaging solutions also offer stackability for clean display and offer shoppers a clear view of the product.

“Having a crystal clear and crisp view of the product that's desired. whether it's a cake or muffin or cupcake or whatever it might be, having that crystal clear, outer shell to portray the good-looking sweets on the inside certainly helps with that decision as well,” said Haglin.