I have been creating award winning food packaging for over a decade now. I have come to the realization that custom photography is the only way to go to provide a cost effective and
We see if you use royalty-free stock photography your product will not be unique as so many people are using these images. In today's marketplace, on the shelf, package design play an extremely important role to pursue the customer to buy and then recent the customer to keep buying. If you choose to go the rights-manage photography route then the costs will be very high. Typically you will be paying in the $5,000 mark for an exclusive image buyout for a 5 year period for national exposure. After 5 years you will need to re-negoiate for the continued use of the image.
So the best way to proceed is to create your own custom package photography. Which you pay a one time fee for the time it cost to do the photography. Half a day can run about $300 plus little extra for some high end photo retouching to make the food look super delicious...still costs way less than any other way. But you will need to find the right person who can give you an image that an art director / creative director would be proud of, that has marketing sense to back it up.