First-Time Packaging Buyers Guide

First-time Packaging Buyers Guide (Carton and Sleeves)

“Never judge a book by its cover”. We have all heard that well-known saying many times but while we’re out shopping and we come across a product, especially food, that’s in a package or carton, well, we’ve no choice but to judge the food by its “cover” or package.

If you are food producer, you know this only too well – the consumers who comes across your food product for the first time will inevitably be persuaded to buy it or not, in some way, by how good the packaging looks.

Our carton printing experience

At Dollard Packaging, we have been producing food packaging and other types of packaging since 1982 – for companies throughout Ireland and UK. We want you to have the best possible buying experience with us – the best packaging while minimising the amount of time and cost. We’ve produced the following guide to creating and printing your packaging or carton for first time buyers.

How to use this Packaging Buyers guide

Before starting the buying process, think through your packaging lifecycle – from when it’s been designed to being printed, folded, transported, filled with your product, stored, displayed, used and eventually recycled. To make this a bit easier, we’ve compiled a checklist for you.

Fill this out and give a copy to us/your packaging supplier and graphic designers. This will help us give you the best value. If you have sample of the type of packaging or similar that you want, please give that to us also.

Q1. Your Budget

Decide roughly how much you plan to spend on your packaging – if we know this, we can advise you what packaging fits into your budget.


Q2. Type of Product

What type of item is your product – food, drink, toy, breakable item etc? We use a range of boards (i.e cardboards) to suit different types of item, – e.g. for wet, cold foods we will use a board with a waxed coating on the inside to prevent leakage.


Q2. Weight of Product

What weight is each unit of your product? (This will affect the weight and type of board that’s best for your product)


Q3. Product Packing

How will your product be packed, by machine or by hand? (If it is by machine, then you will need samples to test that your packaging runs through your packing machinery smoothly, If it’s by hand, then you’ll need to test that your staff can easily open, insert product and close the packaging.


Q4. Product Storage

Where will your product be stored at any stage of its lifecycle? (For example, if it’s stored in the freezer, then we’ll use a freezer-grade board, if it’s going to be stored or transported on ice, we’ll use a board that’s waterproof and won’t disintegrate when in contact with ice.)


Q5. Product Stacking

Will your products be stacked on top of each other? This will affect what board we use.


Q6. Your Target Customer

Who is your product targeted at? For example, if your target customer is a health-conscious, eco-aware consumer, then you may want to consider using some of our recycled or eco-friendly boards.


Q7. Number of Different Types of Products

How many different products do you need packaging for? (If you need packaging for more than one product, then you may achieve savings by printing the different types of packaging at the same time)


Q8. Recloseable Package

Do you need your packaging to be recloseable?


Q9. Displaying the Product

Do you wish to display your product in the packaging—we can provide a die cut window covered with a clear window patch which will both display and protect the product.


Q10. Open Die-cut Window

Do you want consumers to be able to touch your product?– perhaps in the case of a toy where a child can press a button on the product. If so, we can provide an open die-cut window.

carton woth shaped die cut window


Other Useful Information
Luxury Product

Your product may be a luxury product, therefore you will want your packaging to convey this – we can offer a wide range of special finishes such as embossing, spot and overall UV varnishing, die cuts, gold foil blocking etc

Design Style

You may want to use a bright, colourful design for the younger market by printing in 4 colour process and on glossy finish boards.

Instructions for use, storage, disposal, best before etc.

You’ll need a packaging design that has enough room to display all this information legibly. Note: if you plan to have the finished carton varnished, the area where the “best before/ use by” date will be applied must be left unvarnished so that the laser ink will adhere to the cartonboard.

Food Producers

You will need to check out Food Packaging Regulations from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and check our website for tips in our guides on these regulations.

Bulk Printing

Quantity printing in bulk produces savings. However, you will want to be sure that none of the information printed on the packaging will need to change before you’ve used up all your stock.

Delivery Time

Allow plenty of time for design and printing. Discuss delivery times with both your graphic designer and your packaging supplier before you make plans that involve the use of your finished packaging. Special boards and finishes required may add to the delivery time.

We can supply quotations at any stage* – just be aware that any change in your packaging specification will change the cost. Beware of quotes that are drastically cheaper than competitors – check that the specification is exactly what you’ve asked for – (for example, ask to see board samples of what they plan to use)

*If your specification has changed from your original quotation (price), you need to request a revised quotation.
Once you’ve signed everything off, we’ll stay in touch with you about your job’s progress until we deliver the finished packaging to your premises.

Begin you  Carton /Packaging Project

Create your Carton Structure first, then create the artwork

As with any packaging design project, it is always good practice to speak to your packaging printer before you consult your graphic designer.  This is because the most important initial issue regarding packaging is the packaging structure. This must be tested and approved before you approach a graphic designer looking for artwork creation.  We can provide your graphic designer with a key line which is a detailed outline of the structure of your proposed packaging which they can use to create the artwork in the correct format for printing and folding your carton or sleeve.

Keyline for Carton Printing

Keyline for Carton Printing sample

Designing your Packaging.
Involve your packaging supplier at the beginning of the design of your packaging – this is because the design will affect the cost of printing your packaging. For example, adding extra colours and special finishes, such as UV varnishing or embossing will all have an effect on the cost. We are happy to discuss the design of your packaging with your graphic designer and supply carton layout templates.(keylines)

How Many Colours do You Need?
At Dollard Packaging, we know the ‘tricks of the trade’, for example, you may want to have your carton looking like it has 6 different colours –  in some cases and provided the artwork is created in the right way, we can achieve this effect using “4 colour process” which is the most cost-effective way to produce this.

Before your Sign Off the Proof
Before you sign off on your artwork, ask your designer to send us an actual size hard copy of the design and also the artwork in a soft copy so we can check the artwork format. Once we have verified that your artwork is correct, sign off your graphic design artwork and get it sent to us.

Signing Off your Proof
When we’ve received your artwork, we’ll supply you with a proof and signoff sheet for you to check and sign-off that everything is correct. This is a very important process – (you may like to check our website for our guide – “Packaging Proofing Check List”)

Samples of how the box/carton/sleeve will look when finished may also need to be signed off by you.

Contact Dollard Packaging for help with your carton or sleeve buying. 01 847 0044