Packaging in the age of virtual restaurants
One of the very unique challenges that virtual restaurant brands face is creating or selecting the proper packaging for their delivery orders. It's obviously not lucrative to spend an arm and a leg on fancy packaging, but you also need something that will ensure the safety of the food...
January 25, 2021
One of the very unique challenges that virtual restaurant brands face is creating or selecting the proper packaging for their delivery orders. It's obviously not lucrative to spend an arm and a leg on fancy packaging, but you also need something that will ensure the safety of the food on its way to your customer. We're going to walk you through the ins and outs of food packaging in the age of virtual restaurants
Why choosing the right packaging is important
Packaging your food properly for delivery is perhaps just as important as making the food itself. There are obvious reasons for this, of course. You need the food to arrive to your customer well maintained, rather than on the seat of a DoorDash driver's car. However, there are also some less immediately obvious reasons.
One important function of delivery packaging is to maintain the temperature of the food. If you order pizza from a virtual restaurant for the first time and it's cold when it gets there, you're probably going to be pretty upset, right? Right. Keeping the food fresh and as close to the intended temperature as possible is a crucial function of packaging.
Good packaging also prevents cross-contamination of the food, both in the restaurant and en route to the customer. This has become even more important in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, as delivery has become more popular but customers have also become more worried, and rightfully so, about safety and cleanliness. As a result, tamper-proof containers have been becoming much more commonplace, because they guarantee that your food has been safe and sound since the cook placed it in the container originally.
Finally, good packaging design is important because it increases the appeal of your food, and by extension, your brand. Just as with in-house dining, presentation of the food will affect how much customers enjoy it, regardless of how good it tastes. If it arrives in a clean, well designed package with your branding clearly visible, they'll appreciate and remember that the next time they consider ordering in.
What you should consider when creating your packaging
- Material and Cost
The first main consideration when designing your delivery packaging is the material, which also includes cost considerations. As discussed above, your material needs to not only be sturdy, but also keep your food as fresh as possible. As with anything in life, most materials come with a tradeoff.
For example, plastics and aluminum are both extremely sturdy and are sufficient insulators, but they also hold in moisture, which could make your dish soggy. Styrofoam is not only cheap, but is also one of the best insulating options. However, it's terrible for the environment, which could drive some customers away. On the flip side, compostable or sustainable materials like bagasse or bioplastics are very environmentally friendly, but will run at a much higher price point.
Most brands try to find a happy medium when considering all these factors. That's why you see so many brands using paper and cardboard in their packaging. Corrugated cardboard is a reasonably good insulator, and even if they're not recyclable after storing food, they're at least biodegradable. In addition, paper and cardboard are both easily customizable to include your branding, making them a cost-effective and logical option.
We already know that people are more concerned than ever about the cleanliness and safety of their food. So how do you put their minds at ease? Of course, it starts in the kitchen, with ramped up cleaning practices and sanitation of any surfaces that could lead to cross-contamination.
Past this, be sure that your packaging offers protection from its surroundings, so no bacteria can find its way in while the food is en route to its destination. Many brands have begun covering any openings with tamper-proof or tamper-evident labeling, making it obvious whether or not the container has been opened since it was originally packaged in the restaurant. All of these are good ways to put your customers' minds at ease.
- Brand identity
As with any good business, you have to maintain strong brand identity and visual appeal. You don't have to design an art piece worthy of the Louvre or anything, but make sure your packaging is clean and presents your food well. If it's in your budget, be sure to get your logo and any other pertinent info printed on the packaging as well. Increasing name recognition is crucial when operating a virtual restaurant, so you should take any chance to do so that you can.
If you could use a hand with this or any other part of launching a virtual restaurant, we here at Forward Kitchens have got you covered. With the help of our team, you can use your existing operation, however big or small, to launch a virtual restaurant with multiple brands. This means you'll have even more chances to reach consumers, with even less investment.
We'll handle branding, website and menu design, and everything else needed to get you going. All you have to do is what you're best at: make great food (just for more people). If this sounds more like what you need, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form to talk with a team expert!