Opening a food business is exciting despite the many challenges. You have quite a mound on your plate, from food handling safety and labeling regulations to conceptualizing designs for your online store and packaging. Congratulate yourself if you’ve hurdled them all!

Speaking of food packaging design, we thoroughly explored this subject in Inexpensive Food Packaging Ideas for Startups, emphasizing many important factors, including cost. The packaging is critical to your marketing success, hence the special attention. Here, we show you the worst blunders that startups can make and should avoid.

#1: Using the Wrong Material

In our previous blog, we talked about choosing the right food packaging materials. When you use the wrong substance, you end up with food that is spoiled, crumbled, soggy, discolored, etc. which would not make for a pleasant sight on the shelf. It will pose even more problems once you ship your edibles.

Using the Right Food Packaging Materials

#2: Using Expensive Packaging Materials

Unless you’re selling high-end goods or already banking on a good name, it’s hard to make money from a lavishly packaged product. It’s perfectly acceptable to start a food business with generic packaging as long as you can create a standout one. You don’t have to go overboard or use costly custom-made wrappings. Just do your market research and unleash your creative genius!

Packaging costs can either dent your profit or get passed on to customers—and remember that many of them are budget-conscious.

Expensive custom-made heart-shaped box for packaging

#3: Failure to Define a Target Market

Having an ill-defined target market is like throwing darts blindfolded. It leaves the entrepreneur without a specific goal or direction. If you’re unsure who you’re selling to, you will be clueless about what products and designs click with which crowds, and if your ideas will consistently attract them.

If you make breakfast cereals, what kinds can you make? Will kids like your product like they adore Nestle’s Cookie Crisp? Or can dieters chow it down like Cheerios without worrying about putting on a pound? These consumer brackets have very different needs, and the inability to address them will reflect on many of your branding strategies, including the packaging.


#4: Tone-Deafness on Buying Trends

Listening to the people’s voice is vital to marketing. Unfortunately, some business newbies are not aware of what customers want, and their packaging reveals it. Here are some examples:

  • Americans nowadays are more environmentally conscious, doing what they can to support businesses that switch to sustainable packaging. Using too much plastic or Styrofoam or failing to recycle these materials shows that yours is not a green business.
  • The FDA and HHS’ campaign for smaller food portions is finally gaining ground as more Americans become health-conscious. Making products unavailable in smaller packs or having incomplete labeling information can cost you that demographic.
  • More buyers are becoming aware of the significance of tamper-evident seals in food packaging. Establishments that do not use them may be perceived as uncaring about public health protection.
  • The lack of social media marketing skills can keep one oblivious about what ticks with the market. Tone-deaf packaging can go viral any day and seriously hurt a company’s marketing strategy.
Eating smaller food portion

Keeping yourself tuned in to buyer sentiment steers you away from these slipups.

#5: Wasteful Packaging

If you haven’t started recycling, then you better not be over-packaging.

All sellers want to ensure that their products stand out and remain protected from the elements. This may compel some to over-package, using more layers than necessary to wrap a perishable. Buyers notice these practices, and eco-advocates openly crusade against them online. So avoid wasteful packaging. It’s not only expensive, but it can also backfire on you and harm your brand.

Over-Packaging of Candies

These candy brands are well-known for over-packaging their products. Some already have three to five layers even before they are boxed for shipment!

#6: Having a “Blah” Design

On the other extreme, food sellers may neglect their packaging design in their effort to economize. Even if they make the best eats in the state, they can’t attract buyers because their products’ skin does not stand out on retail shelves. Remember that the packaging is your first opportunity to engage the buyers. Drawing their attention is the first step toward a potential sale.


The packaging does not need to have a very elaborate design. Use labels to deliver the right message. Pick unique and interesting graphics. Stick to a color scheme that embodies your company values and appeals to your customers at the same time. 

#7: Deceptive Packaging

We understand that when you vacuum-bag an edible, it would be hard to hide any flaw, like small or uneven sizes. Do not try to conceal it by re-packaging with a big box. The same goes for other products that you think are undersized and may not leave the shelf as is. Your customers will know, and it will make them jump ship fast.

Potato chips in deceptively large bags

#8: Too Hard to Open

Ever heard of wrap rage? It’s when a customer gets too frustrated from trying to open a very tough food package. Everyone has a tendency to develop it, but some people actually wind up in the emergency room because of it.

Learn More:

Finger cuts, split nails and chipped teeth—these are just some of the injuries that can arise from wrap rage. Additionally, elderly individuals may simply leave a food product unopened and make a mental note to skip it on the next shopping day. You wouldn’t want buyers to experience these things and forget your brand. So make your food packaging secure, but not too secure.

Food Pack

#9: The Packaging is Unfit for the Chosen Marketplace

Many New York streets are lined with all sorts of marketplaces. Some sell only dry goods, while others vend frozen desserts. Then there are meatpacking shops, candy stores, bakeries and what have you. The place is brimming with people from many parts of the globe bringing their own cultures and flavors. 

What do New York shops have to do with packaging? A lot!

For example, homemade ice cream may stand out at a dry goods store, but it will not sell without ample refrigerator space or its own insulated packaging. Similarly, selling vegan-labeled products at the local butcher’s place may not go well with some people. Make sure that your goods and their packaging compliment the retail store and are not drawing the wrong kind of attention.

Deli Shop

#10: Incomplete Labeling Information

Food labels are required by law to protect public safety. We’ve thoroughly discussed the ingredients list, allergen declaration and other food label information to help small business owners.

Startups with very modest resources are not required to include the nutrition facts table because food analyses are quite expensive. But keep in mind that American consumers do take food labels seriously, so you have to consider adding it at some point.

In 2019, the American Heart Association made a survey and reported that food healthfulness influenced 95% of in-store food shoppers’ buying decisions. Seven out of ten responded that they usually checked out the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list to assess nutritional value. About a third read the ingredients list first to look for stuff they wanted to avoid.

Buyers may lose interest in your product if it has incomplete labeling information, which can hurt your business.

Other than health factors, keep in mind that people have different reasons for checking out labels, e. g. faith-based, culture-based, taste, preferences, etc. Additionally, if your original labels are written in a foreign language, include an English translation beside them, as required by law. Go the extra mile to engage the market and invite loyalty.

Jars with blank labels
: 200 (100 Sheets)
: 5.5″ x 8.5″
: Deskjet & Laser Printers

#11: Logo Fails

The logo is probably the most important branding tool. The late Steve Jobs himself witnessed this first hand when Apple’s sales soared after its logo changed.

Logo problems exist for different reasons. Too big, and it obscures important information about the product. Too small, and it will make the packaging unnoticeable. Too complicated, and buyers may fail to see its connection with the product, USP or company identity.

The logo is important for brand longevity. Again, research and creativity are needed to come up with a captivating one.

#12: Blurry Images

If you’re printing your own labels, make sure that they remain clear whether the packaging is wet or dry. Blurred or smudged prints make packages unappealing, risking social media trolling. Choose the right printer for the task and spare yourself from negative publicity.

Blurred dark chocolate label

#13: Labels are Too Crowded

Product information that lacks enough white space in between makes labels hard to read and packages boring to look at. Such labels can drive away design-attracted impulse shoppers and information-seeking consumers. Make sure that your food tags are easy to read.

Honey Labels

#14: Offensive Messaging

Every demographic has unique characteristics. Using unflattering names to call their attention can make them put your product back on the shelf and switch to the competition.

Find euphemisms for words like “old,” “overweight,” “frail,” etc. The market will appreciate it.

Nestle Eskimopie

#15: Labeling Typos and Switches

We previously noted how label misspellings could turn off potential buyers. The same is true if the merchandise stickers get switched. At worst, these blunders can make a product the butt of internet ridicule for years. Labeling errors indicate a lack of attention to detail and reduce product appeal. They can take away consumers’ confidence in your brand. Take extra effort to proofread your labels before sticking them on that stretch film cover.

Label Misspellings and Errors
: 1000 ft
: 18″
: 3 inch

#16: Bad Placement of Packaging Elements

Lastly, inappropriate positioning of packaging elements can also dissuade customers. Take care not to let holes, handles and graphics ruin the appearance of an otherwise functional packaging.


For example, the bowl in front of this cereal box has milk under it, not in it.


Opening up a food business can keep the new entrepreneur busy, and creating an enticing packaging design is only one item on a long list of must-dos. Knowing the most common mistakes in this area can guide startups in making a standout packaging that does not break the bank. We hope that the knowledge we shared here helps fire you up on your new journey.

Let enKo Products Help with Labeling and Packaging Your Food Products

At enKo Products, we always support the American entrepreneur in whatever way we can. We supply these premium-quality, economical labeling and packaging materials:


Explore the enKo Products online store today and grab the most awesome deals!

Like & follow our social media pages to see more updates and promotions !

Leave a Reply