Insight

2019 Food Trends Unpacked – Doing Good with Design

With the UK putting a charge on plastic bags in 2015 and France setting down food waste laws keeping supermarkets from throwing away edible food, the movements towards sustainability are growing in momentum globally every year. In 2018, awareness of the devastating effects of single-use plastic has dominated headlines, legislation, and public consciousness. So, with the inevitable impacts this will have on how the products we buy are packaged, where will the efforts of 2018 take us in 2019, and how will this effect design? 

Health, convenience and sustainability are the three main areas of interest highlighted by market intelligence agency Mintel.

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Grab-and-go gets quicker
In 2018, food labelling was brought back to basics in an effort to reduce food waste and consumer confusion over how to interpret storage and sell-by date advice. This posed an interesting question for designers. How can packaging design help a product stand out on a crowded shelf, but also possess the simplicity and clarity demanded by consumers? A new area of development includes packaging that changes colour according to the food’s freshness. This could throw up fresh challenges for package design, which will have to work with a packet’s changing appearance.

And, with more of us feeling strapped for time and getting comfortable with accessing services on-demand from shopping to TV, the supermarket run might be made just that bit quicker with convenience food and drink. As seen with Gusto, Hello Fresh, and Mindful Chef, personalisation, fast delivery and tantalising foodie-flavours are all high on the agenda in all-in-one, easy to prepare meals. Akin to the conundrum of pared-back food labels of 2018, designers may once again have to strike a balance between packing in important information with simplicity, with a huge number of busy consumers enjoying recipe boxes with ingredients, cooking instructions and nutritional advice all in one parcel.

Sustainability’s all wrapped up
We all know attractive packaging gets more products in the basket. But why not make that beautiful packaging kind on the environment too? For 2019, the war on plastic will make sustainability more and more important throughout the product lifecycle, from sourcing to disposal.

Another Earth-friendly mover and shaker we love is UK company Snact. Snact are wrapping up their food in plant-based ‘plastics’ that break down and are used as fertiliser. And, making the grab-and-go culture a little greener, industrial designer Pontus Törnqvist has developed a plastic alternative made from potatoes that degrades into soil nutrients after disposal. So, the humble spud not only makes a great winter warmer, but it can also replace cutlery, straws and condiment packaging when used in a mix of potato starch and water.

There are even supermarkets that have ditched packaging altogether. In Germany there’s Original Unverpackt, and the UK has Be Unpackaged, who are working with Planet Organic, Ecover and Lush, among many others. With these companies, food shopping is getting redesigned, and labels and logos are being ditched altogether. Shoppers are urged to bring in their own containers, whether they’re jam jars or Pringles tubes, to stock up on their everyday essentials. This requires a complete rethink of shop signage, layout and packaging, as this shopping experience bears little resemblance to the usual shopping routine we all know. 

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Trends for the greater good
It looks like in 2019, food and drink will not only work to be kinder to consumers but to the environment as well. Where that takes design is interesting to consider, especially if consumers use more of their own containers to stock up at the supermarket. Whether we’re opening packets made from plants or potatoes, designing a cleaner, greener 2019 seems like a good way to start the new year.

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