Food Packaging

The Five factors of food packaging

CONTAIN – portion control, hold small items together, for example in a can, jar, bottle, bag, vacuum formed tray, pre-formed tray, etc.

PROTECT – prevent spoilage, leakage, breakage, dehydration, contamination, theft and tampering. Physical protection – against shock, vibration, compression, temperature, etc. Barrier protection – a barrier against oxygen, water vapor, dust, bacteria, etc.

INFORM – identify product, explain how it should be used or prepared, warn about hazards of misuse, list ingredients, provide nutritional data and pricing, etc.

PROMOTE – a marketing tool to help differentiate from similar products and attract attention in retail and supermarket outlets, for example by using brands, colors, illustrations and shapes.

TRANSPORT – make it easier and safer to move products from the manufacturer to the warehouse and retailer (tertiary packaging) and consumer (primary packaging).

Promotion on packaging is more effective than advertising

As the retail food business has almost completely moved from small grocers, butcher’s and other specialized shops to self-service supermarkets, the need to inform and sell a product via the packaging has grown enormously. 

With around 10,000 products available in a typical supermarket, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. Research shows that investments in packaging often bring higher returns than traditional advertising. 

Trends in processed foods:

  • Health (nutrition, low fat, sugar free, etc.)
  • Novelty (foreign and trendy products)
  • Lifestyle (complete meals, ready-to-heat)
  • Socio-economic (recession, population growth)
  • Reconstitution (fry, oven, microwave)
  • Cost efficiency 

Trends influencing packaging design:

  • Convenience (resealable, easy to open, portion size)
  • Economy (bulk sizes, various qualities)
  • Marketing (visibility, identity)
  • Labeling (contents, directions, legislation)
  • Sustainability (reduced, reusable, recyclable)