Are Online Food Companies Neglecting their Packaging?

Packaging and Food E-commerce

PC with Food Delivery


An article published by WestRock, (a US packaging company) featured a report on a survey that they conducted on online food packaging quality. This survey indicates that a very high percentage of respondents gave the quality of the packaging of online food products a lower rating than packaging overall. Does this mean that online food companies are neglecting their packaging?

Packaging Survey Questions

This survey poses a number of questions to 1002 respondents in a 15 minute online survey in March 2017.
One area of survey focused on respondents opinions on the packaging quality of food ordered online. The quality of packaging from online meal subscriptions was found to be 6% lower than the average. Online food service delivery packaging and meal kit subscription service packaging ranked among the worst this year; 31% of those surveyed, said they were either moderately, slightly or notat all satisfied for both.

The survey presented here doesn’t report on why the packaging of online food services was considered to be worse than other types of packaging. Another question posed was “How likely are you to discontinue a subscription-based online service due to bad packaging?”

According to the survey results, 8 out of 10 of respondents answered that they would discontinue the subscription-based online service of the packaging was of a poor quality. The report doesn’t tell us whether respondents were asked about what their repeat buying behaviour would be if the packaging was poor but the product itself was good.

Implications of the survey results for online food companies.

What do these results imply mean for you if you sell food online? Many online food service companies display their foods on their website without any packaging, (especially the main meals). Clearly, this enhances the presentation of the product as it looks the same as if one had ordered it in a restaurant or cooked it at home.

However, the product must be packaged so that it can be delivered to the customer. Can we maybe conclude that the packaging used is not up to the same standard of design or usability as that of food products sold in a retail environment?? It would be understandable that e-commerce food manufacturers may deem that e-commerce packaging is not as important as the packaging used in retail environments, where the packaging sits on the shelf, acting as the “salesperson” for the product inside? In an e-commerce sales process, the product has already been sold when the customer sees the packaging for the first time.

Food manufacturers who sell online might well be advised to ask themselves the following 2 questions.

Is the board used in my packaging suitable for the product and robust enough to keep the product in good condition throughout the life cycle of the product?

At Dollard Packaging, we have produced a questionnaire/checklist to help ensure you choose the right board for your product. See it here.  If you have recently started to sell online, then you may need to choose a different board that will protect your product as it has to now travel through the post or some delivery service. Providing us with the answers to the questions in the Checklist will ensure that we can recommend the best board for your e-commerce and /or retail product.

Is the design of my packaging letting my online food product down?

If you have a great food product but you regard the packaging for online delivery to be a “necessary evil”, you may be missing an opportunity to make a good impression on your online customer. First impressions count and your product’s packaging will create the first impression of your brand. If the packaging is damaged due to the use of an unsuitable board or the packaging design is poor, then your brand may lose out. Many studies have shown that taste perception is affected by colour. This differing taste perception can be caused by the colour of the food and also by the colour and design of the packaging. You can read a related on the topic of packaging colour and taste perception here.

Talk to Dollard Packaging if you need help on any aspect of your packaging 01 847 0044