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4 design trends shaping the snack industry

4 design trends shaping the snack industry
A simple, minimalistic design can elevate a package in the eyes of the consumer.

Encompassing everything from traditional treats and indulgences like chips and cookies, to wellness products and meal replacement bars, the snack industry is enormous. Brands are responding to this demand by offering more products and snack choices than ever before.

With this in mind, snack package design is playing an increasingly important role in ensuring a product stands out against competitors, whether in-store or online. Like every good piece of design, snack packaging tells a story. It communicates what the product is, who it’s for and projects a value proposition to the consumer.

As brands face tougher competition from new players in the space, we’ve looked at how some of 2019’s hottest packaging design trends are influencing the world of snack packaging.  

1. Minimalism

Minimalism is the trend that keeps on giving, and for good reason. When it comes to compelling packaging design, less can definitely be more.

With many brands jumping on the wellness food bandwagon, transparency and honesty are highly valued by consumers, especially when it comes to production methods and ingredients. Therefore, it makes sense that minimalism is one of the hottest styles for this segment of the industry, as it projects an image of simplicity and wholesomeness that brands want to tap into.

Minimalistic designs strip away excess noise—and focus on the essential elements and substance of the product itself. With this design trend, colors and typography are the main focus, and paring back packaging to this stark simplicity is a real art. When the simple shapes, color and text successfully strike the right note with a target audience, the product is guaranteed to stand out and appeal to consumers.

Two examples of Minimalism—RX bars (credit: The McQuades) and Carrot stick (credit mousegraphics)—show how effective the design’s communication can be.


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2. Atypical designs

It’s human nature to be drawn to striking visual design. And if you’re confident about the target audience you’re trying to reach, harnessing an element of surprise and fun in your packaging design can be hugely effective in ensuring your product stands out from the crowd. 

The aim of the game with this trend is to both grab people’s attention and be genuinely memorable. In 2019, expect to see brands embrace unconventional and unusual approaches to snack packaging design to communicate with their customers.

These packages catch the eye because of their atypical structural and graphic designs. (Raisin packaging: credit 99designs designer Chupavi. Milk packaging design: credit I-Media Creative Bureau)

3. Nude color palettes 

When it comes to color, nude can sound a little boring. But, in reality, this palette covers everything from peach, rosy or ochre undertones to creamy and chocolatey hues. As such, it’s a great choice for many snack brands, and we’re seeing more and more packaging designers embrace these neutral, earthy shades to ground their work.

This trend is playful, soft and appealing—and 2019 will bring an abundance of nude tones that are often accented with a pop of candy-colored pastel hues or unusual shapes to make them stand out. Additionally, clean white labels are a popular choice to ensure they don’t steal the spotlight from these unique color combinations and physical designs. 

Swedish chocolate company gains attention with muted neutral hues next to its competitors’ harsher deep colors. (credit: Pond Design)

4. The future is plastic-free

Last but not least, plastic-free packaging is the one trend we should all be embracing. As scientists make incredible advancements in renewable and compostable packaging materials, an increasing number of brands are looking to take care of the earth when it comes to their design choices and reducing waste. From mushroom-based foam cushioning to plastics formed from algae, alternative materials should one day lead to a much more sustainable packaging industry. 

A number of notable early adopters have jumped on this trend, from the fantastic From Peel to Peel project by Emma Sicher, which showcases an innovative eco-friendly packaging material made out of microbial cellulose, to the fun and family-friendly Sassafras Baking Kits. These kits are packaged in 100% recycled paperboard, and optimize the use of space to minimize waste. A fun detail in this packaging, which also brings in the atypical design trend referenced above, means that the exterior packaging can also be transformed into a fun animal mask for kids.  

As consumers become more aware and empowered in their choice between plastic and plastic-free packaging, in 2019 we expect to see many more brands looking to make responsible choices when it comes to choosing packaging materials. 

Examples of sustainable packaging material choices include wrapping made from cellulose (credit: From Peel to Peel) and Sassafras Baking Kits (credit:

From clever, new ways to embrace atypical design to toned-down nude coloring, and simple, clean minimalism, 2019 will be a year that designers push packaging trends to their extreme—and where anything and everything is possible.


You’ll find a generous amount of packaging options at PackEx Toronto 2019, June 4-6, from robotics to semi-automatic equipment and fresh ideas in containers and design. Plus join in free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto.

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