Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

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Food subscription boxes are helping consumers adopt a hassle-free, healthy, and conscious lifestyle. Door-step delivery convenience, healthy food options, cost effectiveness, are some of the key appealing factors of food subscription boxes.

Apart from these, sourcing and packaging for food subscription boxes has also become an important consideration for consumers. The quality of packaging, ingredients, freshness of food, design of packaging and information mentioned on the package—these are just a few elements customers notice carefully.

In this blog, we take a look at factors around sourcing and packaging for food subscription boxes that impact consumer decisions and best practices. If you’re starting a food subscription box business, this blog is a must read!

Sourcing ingredients for food subscription boxes

Depending on the foods you offer in your subscription boxes, you will have to source the ingredients. This could be easy or challenging based on the ingredients. Let’s look at some key aspects of this process.

Local vs. global sourcing

While sourcing ingredients from local markets and suppliers is easier, you may have to procure some ingredients from international sources, as they may not be available in your country. 

  • Sourcing locally is easy: It is definitely much easier to find products locally as you can assess the quality, receive the delivery within a few days, and ensure the ingredients are fresh.
  • Supporting local suppliers: Sourcing ingredients locally helps you support local farmers, suppliers, and markets. This gives an added advantage to you as an increasing number of consumers now prefer supporting local suppliers.
  • Sustainable sourcing: Sustainability is no more a buzzword. It is a critical factor affecting customer purchase decisions. Sourcing sustainably produced food ingredients can improve your brand perception. 
  • Sourcing internationally is challenging: Internationally sourced food ingredients is not only challenging but also leads to added costs of transportation, duty, etc. However, if you absolutely have sources internationally, you must ensure you obtain proper licensing and provide transparency to customers. 

Quality and freshness

Customers like the convenience that comes with food subscription boxes. However, they’re also concerned about the quality and freshness of the food. Subscription box services that ensure quality have a higher success rate and long-term customer loyalty.

Some ways to ensure quality and freshness:

  • Partner with reliable delivery service providers for your subscription boxes
  • Include routine quality checks in your system
  • Regularly collect feedback from subscribers regarding quality and freshness

Also read: Subscription Box Shipping: How To Choose The Right Carrier And The Best Ones

Supplier relationships and negotiations

Another critical is supplier relationships in food subscription boxes. From raw ingredients to packaging material, food businesses often work with multiple external vendors and suppliers. Strong and long-term relationships help brands become stronger and reliable. Let’s look at some related factors.

Building supplier networks

Consistency is key for every business, and more so for subscription businesses. Subscribers expect consistent and timely deliveries of quality food. A huge factor in the success of subscriptions is your network of suppliers, vendors, and delivery partners. 

Long-term partnerships with suppliers ensure consistency and reliability. For instance, if your subscription box includes bakery products, long-term partnership with one baker will help maintain consistency of taste and quality. Moreover, these partners would be more open to feedback and be flexible.

Negotiating contracts

Another critical factor for sourcing and packaging of food subscription boxes are the contracts you create. Here are some tips and best practices you can follow:

  • Carefully go over clauses related to pricing and costs and ensure there are no discrepancies
  • Go through delivery schedules and ensure they match your requirements
  • Sign contracts with all partners and suppliers — from packaging suppliers to ingredient suppliers to shipment partners

Packaging design and material selection

The look and feel of your food subscription box is as important as the material used for packaging. From freshness to reusability of the box, sustainable packaging solutions to custom packaging design; in this section, we explore some such aspects.

Functional packaging

Packaging design has come a long way and is more about the basics. From eco-friendly packaging material to sustainable material alternatives, to ease of use and reuse, there are a lot of factors you can consider when designing your subscription box packaging. 

For instance, customers expect food items to be packed in such a way that it preserves freshness and looks aesthetic too. 

Some examples of innovative packaging solutions for maintaining freshness are packaging made from plant-based material, such as leaves; plant-based material such as beeswax, etc. This is where custom packaging design comes in. Unique and innovative packaging is a key factor to attract and impress customers.

Sustainability in packaging

It’s true that eCommerce is one of the biggest contributors to waste and environmental hazards because of the packaging materials used. And that is why, environmentally conscious consumers prefer to stay away from some brands. 

Since subscription boxes are recurring deliveries, businesses that address this issue, see greater success and support from customers. Some sustainable packaging solutions options include, biodegradable materials, recyclable packaging, packaging made from plan-based material, etc.

Compliance with food safety and regulations

When it comes to food, nothing is more important than quality, freshness, and food safety. Compliance with food safety standards is at the top of the checklist. These also help to ensure quality control in food sourcing. Here are some best practices related to it.

Food safety standards

FDA strictly regulates food and ingredients. In addition, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition ensures safe, clean and wholesome food is supplied by F&B brands. Food handling and packaging are also a part of this. The FDA has an inventory of all the food contact substances authorized.

Here are some of the best practices for maintaining food safety throughout the packaging process:

  • Ensure quality of packaging material when sourcing
  • Run quality checks to ensure non hazardous packaging material
  • Keep a lookout for new packaging material to enhance your product packaging

Also read: Best Build-A-Box Subscription Examples For Ecommerce

Labeling and compliance

Consumers want to know what they’re eating. That’s where proper labeling and following labeling rules comes in. Here are some details that are a must to have on your food subscription boxes.

  • Ingredient list
  • Nutritional facts
  • Source of ingredients
  • Allergen information
  • Expiration date
  • Fair trade certification
  • Food safety stamps
  • Consumption and storage instructions

Logistics and supply chain management

Whether your subscription boxes are delivered on time and the condition in which they are delivered may seem like miniscule matters. But they aren’t because they directly impact customer experience. Let’s look at some best practices related to subscription box shipping and logistics.

Inventory management

Timely and consistent deliveries are critical in subscription. And to ensure that, you have to prioritize inventory management. Situations such as stock outs and delayed deliveries from your supply partners could hamper your delivery schedules and harm your business.

Here are some best practices for inventory management for subscriptions:

  • Create a pool of reliable suppliers
  • If your products are non perishable, keep safety stock
  • Invest in a good subscription tool or app 
  • Ensure your subscription app has inventory management capabilities
  • Create a forecasting model to predict inventory requirements
  • Regularly check inventory

Shipping and fulfillment

Every aspect of your subscription business has to function in rhythm with the other factors. Shipping is a critical factor because no matter how great your subscription box is, if there’s a delay or mishandling by the shipping partners, your business reputation is at stake. Here’s how you can ensure efficient shipping and fulfillment of your subscription boxes.

  • Choose a reliable shipping and logistics partner
  • Ensure your shipping partners cover a wide area of locations 
  • Ensure your shipping tech tools are integrated with your subscription tool
  • Depending on your product type, ensure your shipping partners have suitable temperature-controlled delivery vans and storage facilities

Examples of food subscription box businesses

The number of food subscription box options is multiplying like rabbits. But few are able to survive and sustain competition. What’s the reason? Don’t be surprised, but sourcing and packaging are among the factors. Let’s look at some food subscription box examples that are doing the right thing.

1. Banner Butter

Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

Banner Butter is a butter subscription that offers butter made from cream from local cows. The subscription box includes butters of different flavors packaged in neat paper suitable for butter. The packaging is minimal, simple, and aesthetically attractive. Subscribers can choose from a range of butters. 

2. Murray’s Cheese Club

Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

Murray’s Cheese Club offers a selection of cheese in its subscription box. Customers can choose from a three, six or 12 month subscription cycle. The cheese is delivered in eco-friendly boxes that are aesthetically designed. Each delivery also includes informative pamphlets that share information about the cheese.

3. Olympia Provisions

Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

A meat subscription, Olympia Provisions offers different types of meat subscription plans for subscribers to choose from. The monthly deliveries come in eco-friendly wrapping paper and boxes.

Future trends in sourcing and packaging

When planning sourcing and packaging for food subscription boxes, brands will make choices that align with customers values, will use packaging that build brand reputation, and comply with rules and regulations. Here are some future trends to look out for:


When it comes to sourcing food ingredients, food businesses are paying more attention to the origin and transparency aspects. Conscious customers expect brands to mention the sources of ingredients and credit the producers, too. This ensures quality control in food sourcing.


With strict food safety rules and regulations, F&B brands are expected to acquire all the necessary certificates and make them visible on their website. Brands also have to display the stamps on their food packaging. This ensures subscribers that the brands are complying with regulations related to safety and quality control.

Sustainable packaging solutions 

From packaging materials’ environmental impact to reusability to source and how the material affects the freshness and quality of food, brands will pay more attention to sustainability factors around sourcing and packaging for food subscription boxes. 

Align with customer values

Conscious consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials are increasingly making purchase decisions based on their personal values. Factors such as the way their food choices affect the environment or their health are key considerations, and food brands are paying attention to them. 

Summing up

When it comes to food subscription boxes, sourcing and packaging are equally important aspects. They can make or break your subscription business. 

Hence, some of the most important factors you must consider are, the source of ingredients, building strong relationships with suppliers, selecting the best packaging material, designing appealing packaging, complying with food safety regulations, and ensuring seamless shipping, logistics, and inventory. There’s a host of aspects that need to align and function in sync. 

Prioritizing and getting sourcing and packaging for food subscription boxes right can add a competitive edge to your subscription box business. As customers make purchase decisions based on factors beyond what’s inside the food box, eCommerce brands are starting to look at subscription boxes from the customers’ perspective.

What are your current sourcing and packaging strategies for your food subscription box business? Which are the areas that you need to rethink and change? The above details might help you get started. 

To help you set up and seamlessly manage your food subscription boxes, explore Appstle Subscriptions App, designed for Shopify and Shopify Plus brands.

Install Appstle Subscriptions on your Shopify store today!

About the author

Appstle | A Comprehensive Guide On Sourcing and Packaging for Food Subscription Boxes

Vanhishikha Bhargava

Vanhishikha Bhargava is the Content Marketer for Appstle Solutions. You’ll always find her creating content or reading up on the industry with a cup of coffee in hand, which makes her anxious at times! But stay tuned for insightful pieces. Always.

If you are looking to understand more about Appstle Inc’s products and solutions, you can get in touch with us. Our 24x7x365 available experts will be happy to assist you further.

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