Food and Beverage Packaging
In this unit, we will learn about food packaging in the United States and the
relationships between retailers, costs, consumer expectations, and product characteristics.
There is also a food packaging course (PKG 455) available if you are interested in learning more
on this industry segment.
9.1 Food Retailers
The food industry in the US is large and diverse. More than 250 million consumers get
their food from 2.5 million farmers, plus some foreign suppliers. Most food is processed and
packaged by approximately 25,000 food companies and 4,000 beverage companies. Food is
sold in 300,000 retail food stores in all parts of the US. Retailers of food products are varied
and are usually classified into the following five groups:
are small retail stores, such as 7-Eleven, QD, and the small stores
attached to gasoline service stations.
typically carry between 40,000-75,000 items. Examples
are Kroger, D&W, Food Lion, Safeway, and Winn Dixie.
are large warehouse-like facilities. Packaged products are often presented
and sold in larger units than in supermarkets. The shelves are warehouse racks and the
basic unit for many products is a pallet load. Examples are Sam's Club and Costco.
as the name implies, specialize in products of a particular type,
quality, or regional source. Gourmet foods and international foods are common
examples; however, there are chains which emphasize other features, such as a limited
line of high quality meats and vegetables or organic products.
Foods for Living,
Swagath, and Chester’s Nuts are local examples.
are large stores that carry an extensive food product inventory along
with an array of other products, such as pharmaceuticals, hardware, clothing, sporting
goods, garden products, and furniture. Examples are Meijer and WalMart.
If you think about the differences between these types of stores, you also begin to
realize that the types of products and their respective packages also differ.
carry a lot of single-serve, on-the-go, point-of-purchase, impulse type items.
hyper markets carry huge volumes of competing products from a variety of companies that are
more of a necessity to the consumer.
Club stores carry bulk items with the goal of reduced
And specialty markets cater to specific lifestyles, where experience and value may be
more important to the consumer, rather than cost.
The retail system is mostly based on self-service where consumers browse through
stores, selecting individual items from the array of products presented on the shelves. Most of
these products are prepackaged.
In this environment, the package does much of the selling,
along with marketing and advertising within the media. If a person spends one hour shopping
at a store that has 50,000 unique items on the shelf, each item will get an average of less than
0.1 second of attention. Within a product group, when a purchase is planned, each product will
typically receive 5 seconds or less.
This is why the package needs to have features that attract