quality printing example - menu
Bar and Restaurant

Why Quality Printing Is a Food Industry Necessity

The way we present food has drastically changed over several generations. We’re not talking about plating techniques or cooking shows either. The way we depict food in print has drastically changed, even from less than twenty years ago. Even when affordable color printing became available in the mid-2oth century, the overall effect was less than appetizing.

There are several fundamental issues that led to these unappealing food images. Retouching photos was more involved back then. Another issue was relative expense of professional film photography.

The technology did exist to take stunning food pictures. But even illustrations of food looked unappetizing. The main problem was economically reproducing them for print.

Check out these examples from recipe books and food ads from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Quality printing is a food industry necessity
I’m sure this looked great in person. But it sure doesn’t look great here.


50s cherry and banana mold recipe card
Would a better photo or recipe have saved this recipe card from 1958? Doubtful. It’s hard to tell if this is an illustration or a photo. In any case, this strange recipe doesn’t look appetizing at all.


1980s recipe book covers
These recent examples from the ’80s are somewhat better, but even the turkey looks unappetizing.


Whether or not a food picture looked bad often came down to print quality. Quality printing was as a general rule more expensive per piece then compared to today. Processes were less efficient and more time intensive, which often translated to bigger costs. This often meant the powers-that-be gave the go-ahead to recipe books and food advertisements for images that are unappetizing by today’s standards. Relative print resolutions were also quite low, especially where more economical printing was concerned, washing out images even more.

Cheap printing is a bad idea.

Do you want the same unappetizing look for your bar and restaurant menus or your food delivery flyers? You won’t have to go that far. Printing services that compete at the lowest end of the pricing spectrum will, in most cases, not pay much attention to proofing or color fidelity.

While low prices might seem attractive — think again. You will, in fact, be getting far less for your money, and this is especially true in the food industry. Not only will your items likely look disgusting, the way your print materials are cut and sorted may often be problematic as well.

The funny thing about all this is that you don’t even have to spend that much more for good quality printing, even at higher volumes. Modern processes have made full-color printing so much more affordable for a wide variety of enterprises, including micro-businesses.

Quality printing matters for food businesses.

bar menu example
Quality printing makes very precise menu designs possible, regardless of whether you use photos or illustrations.

Print quality is crucial for businesses in the food industry as there is more at stake. Consider the implications for a restaurant menu. Well-executed print images of food can stimulate the appetite, and also drive sales. Poor print quality can work against this, making it more difficult to get conversions from every piece sent out.

Bar and restaurant printing has to be stunning for another reason too. Bad quality printing is more likely to go straight into the trash. Better quality prints on good stock have a better chance of making a positive impression on potential diners, making them a valuable investment.

Bar and restaurant menu example
Good print quality can help images of food look that much more appetizing.

When even an iPhone is capable of capturing stunning food images, you owe it to yourself, and to your business, to invest in print quality that accurately shows not just your food, but what you want your brand to be. Why shouldn’t you?

Better print quality means:

  • You are able to more accurately represent your brand.
  • More control over intended outcomes of your designs.
  • Better returns on investment.
  • Better chance of making a positive impression.

Quality printing is more affordable than it ever has been. You’ve spent a lot of time creating designs for menus and flyers that work for your business. Don’t throw all that work away by going with a printing service that can only compete on price and nothing else.

The next time you find yourself tempted by cheap printing for your food business, ask yourself: is it really worth it? It isn’t.

Comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *