How to Design Packaging for Healthy Snacks

By: Angela Splindler

The way we eat and what we are eating is changing. Our traditional eating habits of 3 structured meals remains but we’ve taken to snacking more frequently. Top snackers are millennials—they’re munching 4 times a day. And a whopping 94% of Americans are snacking at least once a day! So, what impact does this have on packaging design? Before we take a look at that, let’s look closer at some of the current trends.

At one point it was only “specialty health food” stores that brought us unrefined “natural” products. But with our allergies and intolerances increasing, our supermarkets have responded with dedicated health food aisles. We are seeing the ancient eats of Aztecs becoming mainstream staple—chia seeds, anyone?

Our mobile, transient lifestyles give us reason to share our healthy eating habits. We readily post images of our afternoon Japanese turmeric- matcha-almond-latte while we snack on gluten free, vegan plant protein.

The sugar-loaded empty snacking is being pushed aside by genuinely healthy alternatives from plant protein to bug protein.

Millennials are also making their choices with more of a social conscience which means that brands and packaging need to tell the “seed to product” story in an ethical and transparent way. They want clean labels, simple sentences and they’re craving real, recognizable ingredients. They’re looking for purity and authenticity. They want natural and nature and will be looking for colour palettes, textures and shapes that can transport them to these environments.

Here are 4 tips when packaging your next healthy snack.

1. Simplicity—Clarity of hierarchy

Get to the point. Simplify the message through clear, structured packaging hierarchy. Fortunately, we have moved on from the 80s washing powder style of loading the front of pack with as many features and benefits as possible all shoved into one very small space. However, don’t confuse simplicity with minimalism. Simplicity captures essentialism and that is vital, more so in this category which is crowded and often confusing.

Natasha’s Kale Crunchies by Dynamo is a charming example of healthy, raw natural food captured beautifully, simply and personally. I think this packaging passes the “at a glance test”—I can see what it is, what’s in it and what’s not. It oozes appetite appeal and Natasha...well she seems like fun and is obviously passionate about her product! This packaging has been cleverly carved up into 4 essential pieces of content: Brand, Product, Benefits and Flavor.

  • Brand: We are told a lot about the company through the handwritten font of the brand mark and by the playful orange-haired mascot, Natasha. It is prominent on the pack but doesn’t over power.
  • Product: The product name is large and confident. The product’s artisan qualities reflected through the letterpress style of typography. It’s wholesome, honest ingredients are captured through actual product imagery. They look crisp, fresh and good for me.
  • Benefits: The benefits are simply articulated through clearly depicted iconography.
  • Flavor: The flavor is bold and dynamic. This helps differentiate the range and give great shelf-shout.

This is a great piece of packaging—the pack architecture is well considered and the content hierarchy spot on. The linear structure of the layout makes it easy to visually digest.

In contrast, this healthy option by The Funky Monkey, is for me, just a bit too funky. It is a mishmash of fonts and I found it particularly hard to work out what the product was. Essentially, this packaging also delivers 4 pieces of content but presented in a much less coherent fashion. With that, the elements are competing with each other rather than complementing and informing. This type of confetti approach to content placement makes the pack less appealing simply because it’s difficult to visually digest.

2. Short sentences, concise wording

Along with a well-considered hierarchy is the need for clear plain language. We crave short sentences that get to the point. Our busy lives and many distractions don’t allow for rambling poetic prose or confusing content. The Hippeas brand by JKR Global is a perfect example of this with short, pithy text: “Sweet and Smokin’”—oh yeah! Or the Gaea fruit bars with just six ingredients—that’s all I absolutely need to know unless I do have an undivided moment to suck up the contents of the Nutritional Information Panel.

3. Color—More than beige

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it needs to be all kraft board with hessian hues. The snack category entices us with flavour sensations and millennials have a big appetite for flavour adventures. They enjoy bold and spicy flavours and culturally diverse options. These are often translated through hearty typography and vivid colour palettes.

We recently created the branding and packaging for an ancient superfood—lupini beans. This hugely, moreish, unbelievably good-for-you snack not only delivers on health benefits it has some cracking flavours on offer like aromatic oregano and tangy turmeric. We weren’t afraid to let the flavours sing out and so used a luminous colour palette. But before we were even thinking about shelf-shout or good blocking, Mother Nature had already paved the way. The flowering Lupini plant has an incredibly vibrant colour palette and so we took our inspiration from here.

4. Packaging formats—Convenience on the move

The packaging format is key to its success. When it comes to snacking we are more likely to be on the move than settled. So it is vital to not only offer an experience but to also understand the full engagement process and the shareable aspect of snacking. Clearly a favourite amongst consumers for its convenience is the pouch format. Below are some great examples of sharable snacks that use this approach.

Of course, there are a number of opportunities for companies to connect and engage with consumers during these munchable moments—and for us packaging designers to deliver some lip smackin’ solutions.

Angela Spindler
Principal Director at Depot, Angela Spindler has, during her 30 years in the design business, notched up almost 50,000 hours of design across four countries—so it is safe to say that she knows a thing or two. In addition, she has squeezed in a Master’s Degree in Design, guest lectured at design schools both here in Australia and overseas, and had her work published in a number of prominent design publications.