With the free-from sector booming, and with more food products competing in this space, outstanding packaging design is key in attracting the ‘lifestyle’ shopper.
The value of the UK free-from market is currently worth £837 million. According to Mintel it’s set to soar to £1.1bn by 2023.
So why the surge? Concerns around the environment and animal ethics are giving free-from food and drink a boost. And there’s a generation of consumers that is increasingly conscious of what it eats. (According to Kantar Worldpanel data shoppers are now reaching for free-from products up to 18.6 times a year on average.)
Free-from products have broken free of the health food shop and gone mainstream. But how are free-from companies attracting everyday purchasers? By focusing on pleasure, taste and enjoyment, while still catering for the health needs of their base customer. And by using packaging to communicate a brand’s story in a visually exciting way.
Jackdaw Design’s brand and packaging strategy for Borough 22’s free-from doughnuts focused on positioning the brand as a credible bakery in their own right, rather than as an alternative to the traditional offering.
The flexible visual language takes inspiration from the doughnuts themselves, with lively spotty patterns inspired by the ingredients, mixed with stripes, waves, zig-zags and geometric shapes representing each flavour. The bold colour palette expresses the personality of each doughnut and the vibrancy of the range.
As the free-from market expands, more innovative free-from treat brands are keen to shake up the industry. These businesses have developed a mainstream appeal and a commercial attitude to reach their customers. It’s less about worthy messages and more about the flavour.
The Raw Chocolate Co are all about taste. They produce 100% vegan organic raw chocolate and healthy snacks and ingredients, and recently gave their chocolate bar packs a new lease of life. Now the packs communicate the story of the product and flavours while being distinctive in their category.
Or Cumbrian based bakery, Bells of Lazonby. The company have been baking cakes for 70 years and own the first purpose built free-from bakery in the UK. Their own brand of indulgent free-from cake slices, Bells & Whistles, wholly focuses on the positives and the flavours. As a result, their packaging has buckets of personality.
Although the free-from category is full of restrictions and limitations, there’s a real appetite for taste and creativity. Customers are looking for products that only use the very best, real ingredients to create permissible indulgence. They want to know about the benefits of the food they’re eating – not what they’re missing out on.
As a result, a number of small, agile companies are coming up with innovative products, which meet allergen-free requirements and provide nutritional benefits too.
Made with plants and nothing but plants, Freaks of Nature are shaking up the chilled aisle with their indulgent desserts. Their expressive visual identity showcases their creativity and passion. While curated colour palettes, quirky layouts and a confident tone of voice brings their unique personality to life.
Or The Coconut Collaborative with their coconut based free-from dairy yoghurts, ice creams and desserts. At the heart of the brand is a coconut tree that communicates their ethos of “everyone under one tree” and the illustrations on the pack strike out vividly from the products to connect with customers.
Consumers want packs of joy
Free-from shouldn’t mean dull, worthy or ‘brown’. What connects with consumers in free-from packaging design is vibrant colours, personality, clear labelling and taste appeal. Brilliant packaging design has the power to give life to new ideas, bring innovative products into the world, and transform the fortunes of brands.
It’s only a matter of time before established brands adopt some of these trends in their look and feel.
By Amanda Jackson
Founder of Jackdaw Design, an independent creative agency in London. She has worked with brands such as Graze, Green & Black’s, Alpro, McVities and Cadbury.