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Specialty Food Packaging: A Guide to Sustainable Solutions

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Specialty food packaging

Specialty foods are unique, high-value food items made in smaller quantities from top-quality ingredients. They are often organic, naturally produced, and gourmet. The rise of specialty products means a new era of packaging trends is upon us—some sustainable, others much less so.

Consumers are changing the way they perceive packaging, with a growing preference and appreciation for recyclable food packaging. This is the reason eco-friendly packaging materials are becoming increasingly popular. So, how can specialty food brands cater to this need?

In this post, we’ll explore the ever-expanding world of specialty food products and the what, whys, and hows behind eco-friendly alternatives for shipping, transporting, and delivering them.

The challenges with traditional specialty food packaging materials

There are several challenges associated with conventional specialty food packaging materials and processes. Here are some of the top ones to be aware of:


Specialty food products are considered unique, of high value, and often made from smaller volumes of high-quality ingredients. Because of their unique nature, they sometimes require slightly unconventional packaging alternatives, which can make sourcing eco-friendly options difficult.


Specialty food products often have higher-quality ingredients, and the need for protection often requires insulated or protective customized packaging, making them more expensive to produce. Fortunately, affordable and customizable sustainable packaging alternatives are becoming more accessible all the time.

Lack of awareness

Not enough brands are fully aware of the sustainable packaging options available to them. But through education (like this article!), that can change.

How can sustainable packaging solutions enhance brand image and consumer perception of specialty food products?

Modern-day consumers are more conscious of sustainability and ethical branding than ever before. In the past, consumers placed most of their value on a product’s direct ability to enhance their lives. But today, people want products (including the packaging they arrive in) built with purpose.

Specialty food products are already niche items, which means their selling point is probably already well-defined. But using sustainable packaging to sell them can amplify consumers’ sense of value, loyalty, and purpose beyond the product itself. For example, sustainable fish or wine should probably not arrive in a package made of non-sustainable materials.

Here are some more reasons how sustainable packaging solutions can enhance brand image and consumer perception—both now and in years to come:

It enhances their sense of trust

As consumers increasingly seek brands that prioritize ethical choices for both the community and the planet, it is crucial to establish a relationship of trust and reliability. By opting for sustainable packaging in lieu of environmentally harmful plastic alternatives, you have the opportunity to showcase your company's genuine commitment to the well-being of the Earth and its customers.

Can drive consumer loyalty

Consumers are much more likely to remain loyal to brands that incorporate planet-friendly values into their brand identity.

Not only does it showcase a desire to contribute to a better world, but it also motivates individuals to adopt more environmentally-friendly habits themselves. Loyalty is extremely important to brand longevity, and sustainability is an effective way to inspire it.

Promotes consumer-brand connection

Brands that can connect with their audience emotionally are much more likely to grow and succeed in the long run.

By utilizing eco-friendly packaging boxes for your gourmet food products, you can breach the distance between business and consumer by showing that you both have a common goal: to create and work towards a healthier, more sustainable future together.

Increases perception of quality

Gourmet food packaging that has eco-friendly values helps consumers associate your product with higher quality. While sustainable food packaging can be slightly more expensive at times, it’s almost always better quality, and can often be repurposed enhancing a sense of value exchange for your audience.

Shows you’re here for the long run

The impacts of climate change, carbon emissions, and unsustainable waste disposal practices are going to be with us for some time, even with the amazing efforts people are putting in around the world.

The brands that show awareness of the realities of these things—and who are actively working to slow them down—will survive in the long run. Make sure yours is here for it.

Sustainable alternatives available for specialty food packaging

There are limited options for sustainable specialty food packaging, but the list is growing every day. Here are some of the most popular options on the market:

  • Compostables – certain types of non-toxic materials that biodegrade on par with organic waste. Cruz Foam is one of the top compostable products on the market.

  • Recyclables – paper, cardboard, and combined materials that can be broken down and made into new products.

  • Reusables – glass containers, tins, or recycled plastic that consumers can repurpose.

  • Gelatin films – a flexible, transparent, plastic-like film that can cover food products.

  • Natural fibers – rice husks, hemp, and bamboo husks can be made into packaging materials.

These sustainable alternatives are all better than potentially harmful materials like virgin plastic. However, compostables remain the most effective and eco-friendly sustainable packaging solution on the market. Plus, it promotes recycling and composting, which are more sustainable practices.

Cruz Foam’s products vs other sustainable packaging options

While there are several eco-friendly food packaging options available, Cruz Foam is one of the few that has both curbside recyclable and compostable products.

Cruz Foam’s packaging products are made from curbside recyclable cardboard combined with backyard compostable Cruz Foam Inside(™). This means they can be curbside recycled (where the Cruz Foam is harmlessly washed away in the process), or the Cruz Foam can be removed and backyard composted like organic waste.

At scale, some of Cruz Foam’s range of products can also be customized, making it ideal for specialty food brands that require exact measurements or details for their packaging needs, such as certain wines or specialty foods. The stock range of packaging options has been designed with the most common use cases such as beverage, meat, seafood, produce, and frozen meal delivery in mind.

Working toward a sustainable food future

We are still in the early days of societal awareness around sustainability and environmental impact. Even with the many global efforts to create a better future for both humans and the environment, the impacts of climate change are going to be with us for some time.

Switching to sustainable food packaging is one of the best decisions you can make— for your business, for the planet’s future, and beyond.

Want to know more about how Cruz Foam can assist your business? Contact us today for more information.

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