Smaller portions, meal replacement

Consumer demand for individually wrapped snacks in smaller portion sizes is also effecting change on packaging options for snack products. Busy lifestyles have driven the demand for snacks that can be used as a meal replacement. In a 2014 Nielsen study, 45% of global respondents reported consuming snacks as a meal alternative — 52% for breakfast, 43% for lunch and 40% for dinner.

“Many of our projects are related to smaller portion sizes used predominantly for meal replacement or snacking on the go,” reported ProMach’s Vince Tamborello, ­senior vice-president, material handling. “We specialize in individually wrapped products, so many of our projects are geared toward adding this functionality on new lines or adding packaging machinery to existing lines that typically produce larger portion sizes.”

While single-serve packaging helps make portion control more clear-cut for consumers, offering miniature versions of traditionally indulgent products opens the door to flexible serving sizes and snacking. The emergence of convenient packaging formats has made it easier for consumers to eat while on the go. Single-serve tubs, cups or bags help snackers control both portion sizes and calorie counts.

Mr. Tamborello concurred that snacking on-the-go is an engrained eating habit that will drive equipment design into the future. “Based on project requests, I see a continued push in the baking and snack markets for meal replacement, predominantly in bar-style products.”

An appetite for pop-in-your-mouth options is also evident in the baked goods category. A Mintel report indicated 28% of consumers would buy more desserts like cake or pie if they were offered in individual portion sizes, and 20% would buy more prepared cake and pie products if miniature versions were available. Product formats that fit this concept include miniature pies or pie bites, mini Bundt cakes, and mini bar-cookie versions of cheesecake.

Read on to see how the clean-label and allergen-free movements are changing packaging.