Back in the olden days, most food packaging was thick and opaque—all the better to keep out elements like light and moisture which could potentially spoil our Funyuns. Now Americans are gravitating towards packaging that lets us actually see the food we're buying. And it makes sense why this trend is gaining momentum now.
According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, clear packaging is on the rise for a few different reasons. For the first time, technology has allowed manufacturers to make clear plastics that are as protective as the old opaque standbys. General Mills, for example, is experimenting with layers of thin plastic fused together which are almost breathable, allowing certain amounts of oxygen and humidity to flow in and out of the package.
But a bigger reason for the boost in transparent packaging is, well, nutritional transparency—in our quest for healthier, fresher foods, we actually want to see the ingredients and textures of what we're about to eat. "You eat with your eyes," says Julia Wing-Larsen, marketing manager for Larabar, which found its consumers said bars packaged in clear wrappers tasted better. Kind Bars apparently sparked the move towards transparent bar packaging, which has revolutionized the market.
Going clear doesn't work for all foods. Apparently no one really wants to see their lunch meats displayed like rumpled pink socks. And potato chips (or Funyuns), as magical as we imagine them to be inside that bag, have tendency towards looking greasy that does not display well. That's why many packages have mastered the "window," a tiny peek at the ham that's inside without giving away the whole hog. [WSJ]