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Food Packaging Basics

Food packaging plays an important role in the retail and supermarket world. For example the container or wrapping that a food item has several factors that make it an essential. The main benefit of packaging is that it contains and preserves the product, ensuring the entirety of the item is available for purchase and stops any leaking in transit or while being stored. Food packaging also helps to protect the item from damage, as well as keep it safe and prevents contamination from environmental factors such as dust, dirt and bacteria.

Packaging can also help to ensure that the item seems much more appealing to the customer. It doesn’t need to rely on the food’s “natural beauty” as it can be showcased with an illustration or photograph to represent the food’s appearance. For example, a photograph of a serving suggestion like the food dished up in a fancy bowl or plate is much more appetising than a plastic container of food.  Packaging can also help to showcase the branding and marketing used to sell the product and make it stand out against competitor items.

When food is securely packaged, it is also much easier to transport and display within the retail environment. Egg boxes can be neatly stacked within a box, as well as protecting the product sufficiently as opposed to simply trying to transport loose eggs.

There are three different stages of packaging. These are broken down into:

  • Primary packaging – This is part of the end product and is used to display the item as well as incorporating the appropriate labelling and information
  • Secondary packaging – Usually a large box containing a number of the identical products. Used to restock a shelf or display stand with the items
  • Transit packaging – This is the containers or crates that the secondary packaging is transported in during deliveries between factory and retailers.

The most common materials used in food packaging are plastic, glass, metal, cardboard and paper.

Plastic is one of the most versatile resources when it comes to creating food packaging. This is because it can be supplied in many different forms, easily coloured to your liking as well as being clear or opaque. It can be rigid or flexible, depending on your needs and can be moulded into custom shapes for your individual product. Plastic is also easy to print on directly, saving the need for a separate labelling process and helping to cut costs. Plastic is also very lightweight and can be cheap to produce.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) has air inside which has been carefully changed with chemicals to preserve the product and prolong its shelf life. This is most commonly used for items such as cold meats, smoked fish, cheese, salad and fresh pasta. The changes are made to prevent the food from deteriorating and discolouring as quickly as it would in normal air conditions.

Glass is often used for jars and bottles containing liquid. They are reusable and recyclable, making them very environmentally friendly. Glass is also heat resistant to a certain extent. However there are downsides including its fragility and the risk of breakage, as well as the weight that glass packaging can add to a product, especially when packed in bulk for transit and delivery.

Metal has been used throughout history for food packaging, as cans and tins can help prolong the life of food as well as offering it substantial protection from environmental factors. Using metal packaging is also cheap and can often be recycled for items such as drinks cans. However tins can also be easily dented and this can also result in sharp edges and even piercing through to the food item inside. Metal is also not suitable for microwaveable items, so is often used for meals cooked in an oven and plastic is substituted for most ready meals.

Card and paper based packaging is also very cheap to produce and is already suitable for labelling and information to be printed directly on. This type of packaging is suitable for lightweight items and is also biodegradable. Paper and cardboard can have specialist coatings added to strengthen them and help them to be more water resistant. 


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Food Packaging Basics

Food packaging plays an important role in the retail and supermarket world. For example the container or wrapping that a food item has several factors that make it an essential. The main benefit of packaging is that it contains and preserves the product, ensuring the entirety of the item is available for purchase and stops any leaking in transit or while being stored. Food packaging also helps to protect the item from damage, as well as keep it safe and prevents contamination from environmental factors such as dust, dirt and bacteria.

Packaging can also help to ensure that the item seems much more appealing to the customer. It doesn’t need to rely on the food’s “natural beauty” as it can be showcased with an illustration or photograph to represent the food’s appearance. For example, a photograph of a serving suggestion like the food dished up in a fancy bowl or plate is much more appetising than a plastic container of food.  Packaging can also help to showcase the branding and marketing used to sell the product and make it stand out against competitor items.

When food is securely packaged, it is also much easier to transport and display within the retail environment. Egg boxes can be neatly stacked within a box, as well as protecting the product sufficiently as opposed to simply trying to transport loose eggs.

There are three different stages of packaging. These are broken down into:

  • Primary packaging – This is part of the end product and is used to display the item as well as incorporating the appropriate labelling and information
  • Secondary packaging – Usually a large box containing a number of the identical products. Used to restock a shelf or display stand with the items
  • Transit packaging – This is the containers or crates that the secondary packaging is transported in during deliveries between factory and retailers.

The most common materials used in food packaging are plastic, glass, metal, cardboard and paper.

Plastic is one of the most versatile resources when it comes to creating food packaging. This is because it can be supplied in many different forms, easily coloured to your liking as well as being clear or opaque. It can be rigid or flexible, depending on your needs and can be moulded into custom shapes for your individual product. Plastic is also easy to print on directly, saving the need for a separate labelling process and helping to cut costs. Plastic is also very lightweight and can be cheap to produce.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) has air inside which has been carefully changed with chemicals to preserve the product and prolong its shelf life. This is most commonly used for items such as cold meats, smoked fish, cheese, salad and fresh pasta. The changes are made to prevent the food from deteriorating and discolouring as quickly as it would in normal air conditions.

Glass is often used for jars and bottles containing liquid. They are reusable and recyclable, making them very environmentally friendly. Glass is also heat resistant to a certain extent. However there are downsides including its fragility and the risk of breakage, as well as the weight that glass packaging can add to a product, especially when packed in bulk for transit and delivery.

Metal has been used throughout history for food packaging, as cans and tins can help prolong the life of food as well as offering it substantial protection from environmental factors. Using metal packaging is also cheap and can often be recycled for items such as drinks cans. However tins can also be easily dented and this can also result in sharp edges and even piercing through to the food item inside. Metal is also not suitable for microwaveable items, so is often used for meals cooked in an oven and plastic is substituted for most ready meals.

Card and paper based packaging is also very cheap to produce and is already suitable for labelling and information to be printed directly on. This type of packaging is suitable for lightweight items and is also biodegradable. Paper and cardboard can have specialist coatings added to strengthen them and help them to be more water resistant. 


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