Emerging Food Packaging Trends of 2019

The food industry, like any other consumer-driven industry, is always trying to keep abreast of the consumer trends that crop up every year. Consumer trends have proven to be effective drivers of change in the industry before, resulting in new product lines and recipe changes and other large-scale overhauls.

For 2019, consumer trends are pointing toward packaging design. According to the annual Brand Owners Packaging Survey organized by L.E.K, more than 75% of brand owners said they plan to spend more on packaging next year, resulting from increasing consumer preference for better design that’s also convenient and functional.

This trend is already causing overhauls in two very important aspects of packaging design: design and functionality, as shown below.  


The food industry has always put its best foot forward as regards design. Three new design aspects are expected to make the biggest splash for 2019, including:


As brands aim to become more open and transparent with their customers, they’re rebooting their packages to walk the talk. Enter minimalism.

As a packaging design concept minimalism has always been in play, especially for brands that follow the ‘less is more’ mantra. Its simplistic, upfront nature makes it the right fit for this new desire from customers, and brands are taking notice.

Minimalism requires that color and typography stand front and center, in addition to immediate simplicity that’s clean and straightforward. It also necessitates that a product’s packaging design immediately communicate the message across to the consumer at first glance – no need for extra hours of attention.

These requirements promise a high level of effectiveness in helping products stand out on shelves by commanding immediate attention, so brands have enough reason to endorse minimalism as the basis of their next design overhaul.

Bright color gradients

You may expect a lot of brighter color gradients on packaging designs in the food industry as the design style picks up steam in 2019. Color gradients have always been popular for packaging design; the beauty and makeup industry has especially seen positive returns off of color gradients for years. Many other industries have always used color gradients in the backgrounds, never front and center.

As a design style, color gradients are always effective ways to evoke depth and a whole range of emotions and moods, including fun, desire, seriousness and even heat or the scope of flavor. Their nature – color gradients are designed from blending different colors – already renders them worthy matches to their single colors in popularity and effect.

This renewed interest is in response to increasing customer desire for designs that look unique and new while feeling fresh.

Flat illustration

Flat illustrations are in their own way an extended form of minimalism, this time with illustrations involved. As a design style, flat illustration requires the exact kind of simplicity and straightforwardness that minimalism requires.

Flat illustration designs employ text, illustrations and typography; the illustrations are deprived of all dimensional effects for simplicity.

Brands and designers have good reason to pivot to flat illustration. Its nature ensures that brands are easy to identify at first glance, through the exposed typography and wording. The illustrations ensure that the packaging design tells the brand or product’s story without obscuring any other section of the packaging design, and in a fun, smart way.

It’s also an easy style to play with, so there are always more design options to choose from. As a designer might put it, flat illustrations merge aesthetics and functionality for maximum effect.


Customers are demanding more functionality in product packages in 2019, so the food industry is expected to effect change with incorporations of the design aspects below.

Plastic Free Packaging

Plastic-free packaging has been pushing for a bigger splash in the packaging design arena, and 2019 may be the year when that happens. 2018 saw major developments and brand endorsements for plastic-free packaging, such as the plastic-free store aisle that opened in the Netherlands and L’Oreal’s development of a compostable and recyclable shower bottle.

Naturally, it’s not going to be an easy transition. Plastics, in their many forms, already form a large percentage of the packaging materials used in the food industry, whether individually or as incorporations in other packages of other materials.

Still, there’s a reason to be hopeful. More and more packages are featuring plastic-free alternatives, such as algae-based plastic and mushroom Styrofoam than ever. In 2019, with customers seeking out more environmentally-aware brands, plastic-free packaging is expected to make the big display it’s always deserved.

Smart Packaging

The food industry is expected to use more of smart packaging in 2019. Expert reports indicate that smart packaging is poised to rake in revenues of $39.7 billion by 2020 alone, which can only be good news. 

The food industry already employs smart packaging in a way, through the active product packages that employ chemistry to preserve products for longer.

Experts from Deloitte have recommended that the food industry also take up connected packaging, a form of smart packaging that also comes with features like tracking and traceability for maximum effect. 


For a while, packaging designs in many industries, including the food industry, haven’t always prioritized flexibility. Consumers are demanding more functionality from packaging designs, so flexibility is expected to take center stage.

Customers always prefer product packages that can be handled or used in more than one way without causing damage. Flexibility means easier carriage and storage, and sometimes, easier use.

Brands are not expecting extensive difficulty in making the transition because technological advancements have made it easier.

New packaging products like compatibilized polyethylene are already being used, and they’re environmentally friendly. In aiming for flexibility, some brands have found that they need less material for their packages too.


In any industry, consumer trends come and go. Customers are always looking for new, fresh and exciting things, and that includes packaging designs. For 2019, the emerging trends explained above are already being seen on new product releases. If your brand is looking to capture and expand its market, the designs trends above are highly recommended for you.

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