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Food Packaging Materials

Food packaging has gained prominence today due to the rising global demand for processed and packed food items. We can get almost all food types in our retail outlets, thanks to modern logistics and advanced food packaging that helps in preserving the quality of the product. By definition, food packaging is a package provides protection, tampering resistance, and special physical, chemical, or biological needs. This is why packaging experts try to come up with custom packaging solutions for food packaging so as to provide the required internal environment in addition to external protection and presentation.

Key Functions of Food Packaging

Food packaging serves the following key functions which are evident on a global scale.

  • Physical Protection
    • This pertains to the physical protection of the food item from external damage, shock, vibration, compression, temperature, bacteria, etc.
  • Barrier Protection
    • Barriers in food packaging are often required to contents clean, fresh, and safe for the intended shelf life is a primary function. Permeation is an important factor that needs to be controlled in order to ensure the maintenance of the required internal environment. Some packages contain desiccants or oxygen absorbers to help extend shelf life.
  • Containment
    • Containment refers to the grouping of food items in a single packaging for better handling. Common food items that require containment include liquids, powders, and granular materials.
  • Marketing
    • The package needs to have marketing communication and graphic design in order to encourage potential customers to buy the product. The packaging and labels can be used by marketers to encourage potential buyers to purchase the product.
  • Information Transmission
    • There are stipulated guidelines that require the product to convey certain information such as components, how to use, transport, recycle, or dispose of the package or product. This is what helps the customer to understand the specific usage of the product. The packaging material should be capable of accommodating all the required information in a clear and readable format.
  • Security
    • Security is important for food packaging. Tamper-resistant / tamper-proof packaging is quintessential to ensure the safety of the product. The use of RFID and anti-theft mechanisms will help in deterring attempts at tampering with the package.
  • Convenience
    • The packaging design needs to be such that it offers convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, reclosing, use, and reuse.
  • Portion Control
    • Single serving packaging has a specific quantity of food that helps in controlling usage and providing easy-to-manage portions. 

Types of Food Packaging Materials

Packaging Material

Type

Usage / Application

Aseptic processing

Primary

Liquid whole eggs or dairy products

Trays

Primary

Portion of fish or meat

Bags

Primary

Potato chips, apples, rice

Boxes

Secondary

Box of cereal cartons, frozen pizzas

Cans

Primary

Can of tomato soup

Cartons

Primary

Carton of eggs, milk or juice cartons

Flexible packaging

Primary

Bagged salad

Pallets

Tertiary

A series of boxes on a single pallet

Wrappers

Tertiary

Used to wrap the boxes on the pallet for transport

Sustainability

There is a dire need to focus on the sustainability of the packaging material. Due to the high demand and huge consumption of such products, the wastage of packaging materials is inevitable. The best thing that can be done is to ensure that the packaging is reused and recycled. This will help to bring sustainability into the equation. By reducing the wastage, the use and distribution of the products can be controlled in a proper manner, resulting in overall cost effectiveness. Without a sustainable packaging design, food packaging will not be deemed effective, especially in the times to come.