Packaging began simply as a way to protect food, keeping it fresh and clean until it was eaten. But it was not long before it acquired a range of other purposes such as branding, sales, and usability.
With all these areas invested in packaging, it is no surprise that companies are constantly growing and developing the ways they package their food. As a result, there have been huge changes in the industry over the past 20 years.
Related to wastage, environmental concerns have also had a huge impact on the packaging industry. As well as being a factor driving the reduction of material wastage, environmental issues have affected the type of material used. Far greater quantities of food now use packaging which is recyclable or has already been recycled. These factors have also left their mark in the field of design and labelling. Most food packaging now includes advice on how the materials can be disposed of in the most environmentally-friendly way and whether the packaging is recycled. Brands that wish to show their environmental responsibility to their customers may also mention the fact their packaging is recycled clearly and visibly on the label.
Perhaps one of the most significant and noticeable changes in packaging over the last 20 years has been the inclusion of nutritional information. Concerns over public health and new legislation have led the inclusion of this data to be near-universally applied to food packaging. It has also become part of the selling process. Healthier foods, or brands that wish to convey a helpful and health-conscious image, put essential facts about a product’s nutrition in prominent places on the front of the pack.
Standing Out From The Crowd
Companies are keen to make their packaging stand out on the shelf, as well as ensuring it looks modern and impresses the customer. As a result, the field of packaging design has seen huge advancements.
New technologies have allowed labels to become more colourful and complex. A range of new shapes have also been developed, either for practical reasons or to look modern and unique. A range of forming shoulders are now widely available to help produce shapes that were unheard of 20 or even 10 years ago.
Reducing Material Wastage
Through the later part of the twentieth century, a number of studies in different countries were coming up with disturbing wastage figures. Not only were packaging materials being wasted in the manufacturing process, but inadequate packaging was leading to the wastage of large percentages of products. In Russia, for example, more than half of fresh fruit and up to 70% of potatoes were wasted for this reason. More reliable manufacturing processes, through the use of modern formers and more advanced equipment, have slashed these figures.