“It’s no longer 1937″

I don’t know about you but the packaging of a food product seriously sways what I buy.

What began as simple means of preserving and transporting food, has now become a tool for branding, communication and sustainability.

Trends come and go, so it’s important to try and create a timeless design that can be easily adjusted.

So, how has food packaging design changed over the years?

The Functional Foundations

In the early days, functionality came first.

The primary purpose of food packaging was to protect food from contamination, spoilage, and physical damage.

Materials like glass, metal, and wax-coated paper were popular as they were seriously good for preserving food.

Though, the designs were simple and utilitarian, with a focus on practicality over aesthetics.

The Rise of Branding

As industrialisation took hold, the 20th century brought about a significance in food packaging design.

Manufacturers recognised the importance of branding and began using packaging as a means to differentiate their products on store shelves.

This era became the era of iconic design, for brands like Coca-Cola and their bottle design.

Adding colour to labels, logos and typography to create brand identities started becoming a big deal.

Functional Aesthetics

Around the 1950s, there was a balance happening between function and aesthetics.

Printing technology had advanced so packaging designs were less limited, they had more intricacy and visuals.

Companies started using graphics and imagery to communicate product features, benefits and instructions.

ie. Cereal boxes, had mascots and narratives to broaden the target audience.

Sustainability and Eco-Consciousness

As a new generation came into place during the 2000s, sustainability became a big talking point.

Consumers began demanding packaging that reduced waste and an environmental impact.

This caused an exploration of materials like bioplastics, compostables, and minimalist designs that used less ink.

Companies started incorporating recycling symbols and information about eco-friendly disposal to encourage responsible consumer behaviour.


Brands realised that strong selling points contain strong stories.

People react well to personal stories or narratives created for the brand.

Artistic illustrations, origin stories, and cultural references add depth and meaning to the product.

Minimalism and Elegance

The current trend in food packaging leans towards minimalism and elegance.

Clean lines, simple typography and a focus on negative space.

It aligns with the contemporary aesthetic, which is currently popular, and also psychologically symbolises a commitment to transparency and authenticity.

Aim to get your brand’s best quality through with the packaging alone.

How Does This Help?

Understanding even a little bit of the history surrounding your industry makes sense, doesn’t it?

With food packaging design, watching things change and evolve over the years helps you come up with ideas.

It’s an evolution of the dynamic relationship between culture, technology and consumer values.

Keep history in mind, and see where it takes you in the future.

Do you need help with your branding?

If you would like to discuss your branding, logo or identity project, call us on 01295 266644 or complete the form.