How much should packaging cost as a % of the total product cost? It depends on product needs.  Rather than think of packaging as a supply cost, we think of it as an essential marketing asset that increases the value of your product.

Your packaging serves many roles that enhance, protect, and communicate your product attributes. It is crucial to take great care when choosing the materials and structures to ensure costs are controlled and minimized.

Low quantity equals a higher price, which is always a challenge with new product launches.  We recommend that you choose standard packaging materials readily available in the market.  Source from a reputable packaging distributor or manufacturer that can guarantee the availability of the packaging as your volume grows.

Find a common structure or style of package.  Unique, custom materials and styles may be difficult to source as you grow. Packaging is an essential supply item – you cannot sell your product without it, so availability is a key consideration.

There are several steps you can take to manage your packaging costs.  You can reduce your costs in the development phase by incorporating these basic practices:

Stock Packaging

  • Start with 'off the shelf' commonly available packages.  Before you invest in custom primary packaging, test the market to get feedback.  You can expect to redesign your packaging a few times before getting it exactly right for your product, so now is the time to minimize costs. We recommend that you use your branding and label design for marketing your product rather than launching with a unique package structure.

Common Materials

  • Use common materials.  You can take advantage of your packaging suppliers’ volume buying.  If a supplier has to bring in unique material just for your packaging or label, you will experience higher minimum order quantities and higher costs.

Standard Structure

  • Standardize your structural design by using one size of package across your product line.  Each unique structure could incur up-front costs for tooling and design, as well as set-up costs in the manufacturing process.   Packaging manufactured on automated equipment incurs set-up times, and the cost for this time is added to the material and labour costs.  One package could run over several pieces of equipment, so reducing the number of set-ups is worth investigating.  An example of this is cereal boxes.  You will notice that many boxes are a common size despite the volume inside. A package such as this is designed to accommodate the highest output so that regardless of the type of cereal, there will only be one set up on both the packaging and filling machinery.

Stock Tooling

  • Ask your supplier if they have tooling in stock that is suitable for your product. This reduces the tooling cost and may allow you to combine your order with others reducing the set-up costs.  Stock tooling is often available for packaging that requires high machine set-up times, such as craft beer open carriers and point-of-purchase displays.

Pallet of boxed product ready to shipPallet Configuration

  • Stack the product efficiently on pallets to reduce shipping costs and optimize storage space.  Avoid overhang to keep the product within the edges of the pallet to minimize damage.
  • Optimize the case pack.  Get your suppliers together to ensure the inner package fits nicely into the shipping container.  Designing the primary package in concert with the shipping container will optimize the case pack and, ultimately, the pallet pack.
  • Design cost-effective graphics.  Graphic designs can be expensive to create, but you can minimize this cost by using one common design that allows for simple and easy revisions to print.   Work with a packaging designer who understands both your needs and those of the printer—design for efficient production at the lowest cost.
  • Use “in stock” ink colours.   Common ink colours will be less expensive than special orders.   Metallic inks can often be costly.  While this may not be necessary depending on the printing process, it is helpful to understand the cost impact of using special inks.
  • Combine 'like' products when ordering to achieve the highest volume price breaks.  Work with your supplier to develop the most cost-effective solution.


Leave a Reply

  1. Erika Brady

    Thanks for explaining how standardizing the designs of your packages can help you with setting up your machinery so you don’t have to worry about changing the settings. This would be useful to help the equipment work efficiently as smoothly so you can speed up shipping. When choosing the standard design, it would probably be a good idea to figure out which size and shape work best for your product as well as the packing machinery you have so that it can fix and work with the packages.