Most of us come into contact with some sort of packaging every day, but you might not think about what the packaging is made of or even how it works to protect products.
In this guide, we’re looking at the characteristics of packaging materials, and what goes into making the packaging that all of your favorite foods (and other products) come in.
What are the characteristics of packaging?
Packaging needs to perform a few different functions.
Most packaging serves the purpose of marketing the products. There is a real science behind product packaging design for marketing. The way something looks on the shelf can make a huge impact on whether or not you choose to buy it. For example, on a supermarket shelf, people are less likely to buy something that looks boring or the design is poor. It may seem superficial, but people assume that what’s inside won’t be as nice.
Packaging should also protect the product, and keep what’s inside from getting out. Food can go stale or even develop mold if it isn’t protected by the right packaging. Often, it needs to be airtight. A lot of food and drink products also need to be kept in a stable environment in terms of the air inside the packaging.
If the product inside is hazardous in any way, like a cleaning product that contains chemicals, packaging protects people from being exposed to this. The packaging needs to be strong and protective so that it doesn’t easily perforate if it is dropped. In the warehouse, it might be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.
What are the different types of packaging materials?
What types of materials are normally used in creating robust packaging?
The way something looks on the shelf can make a huge impact on whether or not you choose to buy it.
Plastic is usually utilized in blister packs, containers, bottles and films such as baling films. Plastic is very flexible and can fit around awkward shapes.
Cardboard and paper are very popular, they often form boxes, separators or labels, and they can help to make the packing more sturdy and less prone to breakages. One benefit of using cardboard is the fact that it is able to be recycled easily.
Wood may be used in some packaging if it needs structural elements. For example, furniture packaging. It is also used to package large items on pallets.
Many products use multilayer packaging, combining different types to give the ultimate protection.
What should be the characteristics of a food packaging material?
It is vital that people take a lot of care when packaging food. Food can perish and go bad, and if it isn’t obvious that the food has gone bad it can also make people ill when consumed.
As well as this, good packaging can enhance the shelf-life of a product and this means there is more chance of it selling rather than going to waste.
Most food packaging is designed to form a “gas barrier” which means keeping a stable atmosphere of gases inside the product, and not exposing what is inside to more oxygen or anything that can make it go stale or allow bacteria or mold to grow on the food. Canning has been so popular for food over the years because of the fact that it creates an air-tight seal.
Qualities of Packaging Materials and Consumer Preferences
Consumers want different packaging properties for different products. For example, the difference between packaging for frozen food and for kid’s toys is very different.
The packaging materials need to be protective so that the product is kept safe and that what’s inside doesn’t get compromised, but people have other preferences, too.
A lot of customers value products that they can recycle. This means that they make less of a carbon footprint. A lot of packaging items are made out of plastic as it has some brilliant properties for keeping things safe, but that doesn’t mean it is the ideal choice. Most people would rather have something that can be recycled.
2021 Packaging Industry Trends
As well as the fact that most people want their packaging to be as eco-friendly as possible, there are more industry trends to be aware of.
MAP packaging, short for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), can extend the life of fresh products. It can control the products inside with a protective mix of gases that you can control. You can create the ideal environment for products so they don’t go stale, bacteria don’t grow and the food inside doesn’t spoil.
Vacuum sealing to remove the air altogether is another trend. A lot of people are looking to package food at home, or repackage leftover food for freezing.
Food packaging is a part of marketing, 3D rendering, and even interactive packaging such as QR codes and even AI or interactive games that you can play with your phone. Manufacturers are also looking for new ways to promote their products as well as protect them.
James Smith is a writer with 4 years of experience within the packaging industry with product knowledge and understanding in the everyday changing market. Currently, he is a member of the marketing team at Osicreative.com.