We asked a range of experts whether bakery packaging is fit for purpose as the market continually evolves. Here’s what they had to say…

Justin Kempson, sales director, Charpak: Bakers have a prime opportunity to tap the growing food-to-go market with fresh savoury and sweet products. Currently, packaging should remain in rPET (recycled PET) while, in the  medium-term we will see innovative designs using sustainable Bio-PET (non-fossil fuel based plastic).

Packs that are easily separated and kept for later, and still keep bakery items fresh, is a great opportunity for high street bakers. With the consumer thirst for artisan and homemade products, the high street baker is perfectly placed to capitalise on this market by packaging fresh bakery correctly, looking amazing and enticing, and ready to take away.

Rachael Sawtell, marketing director, Planglow: Hot bakery items are on the rise, reigniting the need for innovative materials that allow products to retain heat without going soggy. The environment is of ever-growing concern and more providers are seeking out eco alternatives to plastic packs.

In terms of branding, we have seen a growing number of brighter, minimal concepts, while labelling has got much larger to accommodate nutritional data.

Phil Crozier, UK sales manager, Multivac: Thermoformed MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) packaging is already used by the  bakery industry for products such as long-life naan breads, and par-baked goods.

A relatively untapped sector for MAP packaging is savoury goods. Many of the products sold in this market are in flow-wrap packs, with a lightweight plastic tray to provide some protection, but there is very little evidence of the use of MAP to increase shelf life. With the use of thermoformers we should see a decrease in materials and labour costs while delivering an increase in shelf-life.

David Harding-Brown, technical director, 1HQ: The search for artisan breadmaking cues is driving the use of multi-material wrappers (plastic/paper laminates), so this ‘artisan’ end of the market is disappearing in a sea of brown.

Packaging could also carry features like tactile inks, varnish or foiling, however all involve cost, in a category where value is being driven out. Sandwich loaf packaging remains the basic wicketed PE but this may have to change as we’re now seeing a growing distaste for ‘single-use plastics’, and bread is one the biggest culprits.

David Luttenberger, global packaging director, Mintel: Flexible bags dominate the bread and cakes category. With a global emphasis on reducing and eliminating food waste, and freshness remaining a priority, bags with higher barrier/extended shelf life will aid brands, retailers, and consumers.

Brands that can differentiate in any package format by communicating on-pack about features such as portion-size dispensing, and positive reseal elements, will earn favour among consumers seeking an easier, faster way to prepare their own baked goods.

Ellen Munro, creative director, Brand Opus: Consumers are increasingly aware of wastage, a particular problem in the baking sector. We’ll see this tackled through an increase in smaller formats and single-serve packs. We’ll also see new ways of resealing the package to ensure freshness for longer.

Other aspects of sustainability may be tackled through paper packaging, as a substrate more widely recycled, but this can be a conflict of interest as, traditionally, plastics keep products fresher for longer.  Paper formats also feed into the current trend for local craft bakeries and simple, wholesome ingredients.

Packing a punch in the market

Ooh-La-La, Rhythm 108
Launched: August 2017
Yorkshire-based packaging manufacturer Parkside has developed biscuit packaging manufactured with a substrate containing eucalyptus tree. The company worked with food brand Rhythm 108 to develop the Ooh-La-La sharing packs made using a bio-film called NatureFlex, created from wood-pulp from sustainably sourced eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. For every tree used, another is planted.

Mrs Crimble’s redesign, Wessanen
Launched: July 2017
Mrs Crimble’s has unveiled new-look packaging designed to highlight the brand’s free-from status and taste. The recipe and packaging format of the macaroons – a cardboard tray and clear wrap – have not been changed. “Consumers told us not to change the packaging as they want to be able to see the product,” Mrs Crimble’s brand controller Rebecca Vercoe told British Baker.

McVitie’s Digestive Nibbles ‘handy packs’, Pladis
Launched: April 2017
McVitie’s has rolled out ‘handy packs’ of its Digestive Nibbles to tap growing consumer demand for on-the-go snacks. The products are available in caramel and milk chocolate flavours. “Our busy lifestyles have led to an increase in snacking… leading shoppers to gravitate towards single-serve packs, pouches and grab on-the-go items,” said McVitie’s marketing director Kerry Owens.

Waitrose easier-to-recycle sandwich wrappers, Waitrose
Launched: August 2017
Waitrose has worked with packaging manufacturer RAP, and sandwich producers Melton Foods and Greencore, on these new wrappers. The retailer said it found customers had difficulty separating the cardboard from the non-recyclable plastic film. Its solution has been to make the film easily removable from the cardboard – via a peelable tab.

Wholegrain guidance

New guidelines on when products can be labelled ‘wholegrain’ have been published by a group of cereal science and nutrition experts.

The Healthgrain Forum has recommended a product should contain at least 30% of wholegrain ingredients to be described as ‘wholegrain’.

Although this is guidance only, the European forum has called on public health authorities, dietary associa-tions and governments to apply the new definition in future legislation. There is currently no definition of the term wholegrain food in the UK.

Publishing a paper on the guidelines in the journal Advances in Nutrition last month, the forum said the new definition would provide “greater clarity” for consumers. “The aim of the definition is to encourage food manufacturers to replace more and more refined cereal ingredients with whole grains.”

Real Bread Campaign organiser Chris Young said a legal definition for wholegrain, and official guidance for its use, is part of the campaign’s call for an Honest Crust Act to help shoppers make better-informed choices about the loaves they buy.