up button image
Food Broker News

Considerations for Retail-Ready Food Packaging

Evaluating Retail-Ready Food Packaging for Food Products

Various food items showing off various packaging schemes.

ften referred to as shelf-, display- or pallet-ready packaging, retail-ready packaging is defined as secondary packaging that allows products to move to the shelf or selling floor without the need to unpack. For brand owners, manufacturers, and retailers, it’s an all-in-one solution serving as a  shipping container and an in-store floor or shelf display. It is becoming a decisive factor in retail sales.

Forbes Magazine reported that the attention span of a consumer, or adult, has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in recent years. This, among other considerations, must drive companies that supply retail-ready foods in the design and creation of their packaging. GlobalNewsWire projects the retail-ready food market to surpass $85 billion by 2028. That means that there will be a large number of Retail Ready-Food (RRF) producers vying for consumers to buy their products. One of the best ways to encourage those consumers to buy RRF is by enticing and drawing them in under 8 seconds with the retail food packaging.

Find out what retailers look for in storage and display packaging and what consumers like to see when considering buying a similar product. Going straight to the source provides invaluable information.

Understanding the Market

As a retail-ready food company, one of the first steps that should be taken when considering packaging is the market being targeted. When contemplating the market, the retailer, as well as the consumer, must be considered. Whether on a large or small scale, ask for input from retailers, marketers, and consumers. Look at shopping data from reliable sources based on similar products. Find out what retailers look for in storage and display packaging and what consumers like to see when considering buying a similar product. Going straight to the source provides invaluable information.

Food Retailer Needs in Packaging

Food retailers must choose from a vast array of retail-ready foods to sell in their stores. They will consider several categories and individual products before choosing new or current food offerings to sell in their stores:

  • Display Requirements: Food retailers, whether local, chain, or corporate, may have requirements on where the food is sold in their stores. Some of the requirements are very relaxed while others are quite rigid. As a retail-ready food producer, the packaging must consider these requirements. Will your food be out front in a special display style? Is your package conducive to being hung up? Will it be next to similar products? What can make your product stand out among others?
  • Case Packs: Retailers want to have ease of displaying and stocking foods. If your retail-ready food is packaged in cases, take into consideration if the retailer can display the entire case without having to take each product out separately. Having a case pack that can be taken from the delivery truck straight to the refrigeration or center shelves of the store can be a big win with retailers.
  • Display Options: Retailers like the flexibility of being able to display packages in a variety of ways. If the packaging of a product allows it to be displayed vertically and horizontally, this gives the retailer even more ways to display it. Options of how to store retail food products give the product an extra reason for the retailer to buy it.

Consumer Needs in Packaging

Once again, a retail-ready food package has less than 8 seconds to catch the eye of a consumer. Consumers are interested in getting what they want, how they want it, and how quickly and easily they can get it. When considering the consumer in the design of packaging, think of:

  • Quick and easy access: Consumers want to be able to get a product quickly and easily from a display. Can they get the product out of the case easily? Can they retrieve the product with one hand?
  • Attributes of retail food packaging: Consumers desire to see the main features of the product on the front of the package without having to pick it up. Can the consumer readily see what is included? Can they see the main ingredients? Can they see if it is gluten-free or other dietary specifications? If the product is displayed from the side, is this information visible in that fashion too?
  • Appealing to consumers: Consumers from different generations care about different characteristics of a package. Baby boomers want to see packaging that extends the life of the product while Generation Z members want to see packaging that is sustainable. Which age range is the product going to be marketed to the most? Does the packaging need to consider multiple generations?
  • Branding: Some consumers only buy certain brands. Other consumers boycott brands based on political stances. When considering packaging, included elements that make the people who buy the product aware of what the brand promotes.

Considerations for Convenience or C-Stores

C-stores have different considerations than other retail-ready food stores. C-stores have limited floor space to promote or display products so they will have to be choosier when it comes to the products they sell. When considering c-stores and the packaging of retail-ready foods, think of:

Overall layout of the c-store - C-stores have certain layouts based on the small space with which they have to work:

  • Diagonal: This floor plan has rows of shelves at a diagonal that allows better views of the packaging of products. This floor plan also has less room for traffic to flow and has to have shorter shelving to accommodate it.
  • Grid: The most common floor plan used in c-stores. This plan allows for longer shelving and more room for consumers to walk but inadvertently hides the product packaging from the sight of people outside of the aisle.
  • Mixed or Free Flow: This plan allows for creativity and can be great for products that are specifically displayed. The key is to package the product to be chosen to be displayed in a prominent area.

Serving sizes - Consumers buying retail-ready foods generally want retail food packaging that consists of one serving and that can be heated or prepared and eaten without using anything more than the existing packaging. Most often, consumers who stop at c-stores are people working on the road, traveling, or having a quick snack. They want the convenience of heating and eating all in one.


Packaging is no longer just a means for product transport. And RRP is proof of that. Manufacturers and brand owners are discovering that it’s one of the most important marketing tools available and can lead to better brand identity and higher sales.

September 30, 2022