Apr 17

What is typical for meat packaging

Posted by Packaging Sense in Design | Uncategorized

Recently, I had the opportunity to give a speech for the Russian meat industry which, in package design, is many years behind compared to Western Europe.

The great thing about teaching is that you learn so much yourself! You learn by analysing. That is what I did when looking at Swiss, Italian and French meat/charcuterie packaging. This is what I found:

White must be white

Whether fresh or preserved meat, it is important to achieve a clean, fresh, attractive contrast between the red-brown meat and the white background. Therefore, the white must be really white. As many packages have plastic films with a white printed background, it may even be necessary to print white twice! Of course a white pigmented film is great, but then you have to forget the obligatory window, i.e. see-through. See below.

Add a green touch

The green colour is very important as it gives a natural look to the meat. It can be a parsley, a leaf, a green field, etc. You may notice that many meat brands have green as part of their logotype identity.

Be local or regional

We all would like to buy our meat at the butcher around the corner. Not very easy today and not practical as we often want to do all our shopping in the same place, for instance in a commercial center where a big part of the meat will be prepacked. In these circumstances and as perception is reality… we like to buy local, as for instance where I live, the “saucisson vaudois”, or from a specific region – think of the Parma or the Serrano ham. We also like strong meat brands such as Citterio or Herta.

3D illustrations enhance appetite appeal

If you slice ham and show it rolled, the taste impression is hightened. It is usually more attractive to show meat as if it had just been cut, or served. Flat illustrations are almost always inferior to 3D presentations.

Guarantee seal adds quality

Maybe it all started many hundred years ago when the farmer brandmarked his cattle… Anyhow, a seal or stamp that so to speak guarantees the authenticity gives trust.


In this category, the keywords, or so-called loaded words are, for instance, prime, original, pure, authentic, superior, etc. Use them! They help to communicate quality.

Show the essential

If the meat is marbled, highlight it! Don’t disturb it more than with the abovementioned green! You are selling a valuable product. Do not let the eye be attracted by other elements. You are selling a pure, natural, tasty food product. You wish the consumer to get tasty salami, sausages, pork ribs, etc. In this respect, use rather a close-up illustration. The closer the meat is to your eyes, the more flavour it suggests. But do not overdo it!

Kraft paper is natural

It is very important to choose the right material. Today, mat plastic is preferred to glossy material. Kraft paper (real or fake) always brings you an idea of tradition, homemade, non-industrial. Take advantage of it! Also, some materials are more agreable to touch, etc. Package design cannot be done only with your computer, it has to be felt! Layout is done first by sketching and only then with the computer.

Be transparent

Yes, the consumer wants to see the quality of the meat! Today, more and more packages have a window, or a transparent film. You can still amplify appetite appeal with an illustration if there is space. But do not overload! 80% of all packages today have too many elements!

Shape makes you different

If you wish to increase sales, do not look like the competitor. Avoid direct comparison in creating new shapes. Furthermore, if well done, it can be added value as this plate of salami. Package design is more and more about unique shapes. Today’s technology allows it. In this line of thought, Herta invented the sausage balls, now a staple item in France.

Be creative with your layout

In most markets, the meat business is very traditional. So there is an opportunity to come with something new and to become different! Consumers have difficulties to taste the difference… but they easily see the difference. I very much like the Beretta cut logotype that adds shelf impact!

Consumers buy quantity (not net weight or volume)

Knacki, one of my favourite brands in this category (maybe because I was involved from the beginning of its creation), clearly mentions 4, 6 or 10 units. Consumers don’t care about weight, nor that a can of Coke is 33cl! They buy packs or units and are only interested in servings or rations! Unfortunately, the legislation in certain markets (not Europe!) obliges you to have net weight on the front panel.

Add value

Add value by making it easier or more pleasant for the consumer. The most logical is to have an EASY-OPENING, even if this is easier said than done when you seal plastic films. Another idea is to add something as the toothpics in the lid of the Herta balls carton.

Datemarking must be easy to find

Don’t hide it behind or in a corner. Do as Herta’s Knacki straight in the middle. This is the first information the consumer is looking for after having chosen a product!

P.S.: If the retailer adds a label, may I suggest that the hierarchy of information be the following

  • • datemarking
  • • website
  • • keep with or without refrigeration
  • • origin
  • • barcode

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