Grab & Go Food Packaging

Consumers want packaged food products that are convenient and leave little waste–a trend food producers have jumped on board with. In this piece, IN explores some of the popular “on the move” packaging options available to consumers today.

To go
“Grab-and-go” is currently the most dynamic packaging trend around the world. In one survey, 72 percent of consumers indicated they expected to purchase on-the-go food and beverages in the near future, according to market intelligence tracker GfK Ropers Reports Worldwide.1

A recent example of the on-the-go concept is McBike, McDonald’s innovative bike friendly recyclable packaging that enables a customer to simply attach their order in a suitably designed pack that sits on the handlebars of their bicycle. The “bike-thru” window has been tested successfully in Copenhagen and Medellin, Columbia, with plans to expand to Amsterdam and Tokyo.2

Single-serve: the power of one
In a market dense with multipacks, there is a growing percentage of consumers that prefer single-serve packaging. In a recent poll 46 percent of respondents indicated that single-serve snacking will grow in popularity.3

In addition, one-third of snackers believe there is not enough variety of conveniently packaged snacks, such as resealable packages or single portions, providing a substantial opportunity for food manufacturers to fill this gap in the market.

The challenge for brand owners, however, is to maintain a balance between convenience and affordability–this latter point is especially relevant for the younger generations.

Single-serve packaging can also help with eating the correct amount of food for weight management, as indicated by studies of the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.4

Single-serve, stackable cups of wine are another example of on-the-go packaging that offer additional advantages for transportation and consumption, when compared to traditional glass bottles. During transportation, the single-serve cups occupy a lot less space, since they can be stacked on top of each other. A single-serve cup also lets the consumer enjoy their wine without worrying about wasting what is not consumed.

Ready-made and resealable
The number of single-person households continues to rise each year. It is predicted that by 2020, 331 million people will live alone, accounting for 15.7 percent of total households globally.5 In different countries, ready-made meals are increasingly popular, especially with budget-conscious consumers.6

Industry research points to resealable packaging as a key to meet consumers’ preferences.7 Resealable packaging is convenient as it frees the consumer from the need to eat all of the food in one sitting, reducing the chance of wastage and helping meet the needs of increasingly busy lifestyles. Ultimately, it is helping to keep food fresh for longer.

According to research by Smithers Pira, the global market for flexible packaging will grow at an annual rate of 3.5 percent until 2018, reaching a total of $231 billion.8 Flexible packaging is expected to continue to gain market share over traditional rigid packaging.

Most modern shoppers value convenience and portability, so containers that are easy to handle and more flexible will become increasingly popular in packaging design. Flexible plastic pouches have begun to replace tins and jars on the shelves of supermarkets. Liquids and gels will drive this trend, since they fit well in flexible pouches.9


1“Sizing up success: consumers crave packaging size variety”, the Dieline,

2“Introducing the McBike – McDonalds new bike friendly take out container”, Bicycling,

3“Which food packaging trend is here to stay?”, Packaging Strategies,

4“Single Serving Portion Sized Meals and Weight Management”, Evidence Analysis Library,

5“Singular Behavior”, Financial Times,

6“Home cooking in decline as low-income households turn to ready meals”, The Guardian,

7“10 Key Packaging Trends: A Global Retail Study, Zip Pak,

8“Global Flexible Packaging Market Sees Rapid Growth”, Smithers PIRA,

9“Global Flexible Packaging Market Sees Rapid Growth”, Smithers PIRA,