Since its humble beginnings as a simple means to protect food and keep it fresh, packaging has developed and changed to play a much more important role in many ways. For example, it now offers a whole host of other purposes including branding and usability instructions, and exciting designs to increase sales.
Companies tirelessly review and renew their packaging, investing large amounts of capital into the process and developing the way that products are packaged. This has seen large scale change in the packaging industry over the last couple of decades.
Perhaps one of the most important considerations of modern day packaging is the design. It is imperative for companies to be able to provide a product that is packaged in a well designed way that is impressive to the customer. This necessity has facilitated the advancement of packaging technologies.
In addition to allowing more colourful and complex designs to become more easily viable, packaging technological advances have also allowed for unique and modern shapes to be easily made. Forming shoulders are able to assist with creating intriguingly shaped packaging that was simply unavailable from 10 to 20 years ago.
Towards the end of the 20th century, studies and surveys across the globe found troubling and concerning wastage figures that saw packaging materials being wasted during the manufacturing stage, and also that poor quality packaging was leading to product wastage. This was of particular concern in Russia, where 70% of potatoes and over half of all fresh fruit was being wasted because of this reason. Modern manufacturing processes including the use of advanced equipment such as formers and forming tubes has resulted in even less wastage.
Closely linked to wastage, the packaging industry has also been affected by environmental concerns. Not only does this fuel the desire to keep wastage at a minimum, it also has led to further considerations such as materials used. As a result, many foods now come in recyclable packaging, or packaging which is made from already recycled materials. This in turn has had an effect on packaging design, as most products now come with clear instructions on how the materials can be disposed of or recycled in the most ethical and environmentally friendly manner.
For some brands, their dedication to the environment is a key part of their sales pitch, and so the fact that they use recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging may become an integral part of its design.
Health and Nutrition Information
Another key change to packaging over the past 20 years has been the nutritional information that is present on food products. Public health concerns and new legal requirements have led to the inclusion of such information on packaging. As a result, not only does this conform to legislation, it again also becomes part of a brand’s market placement; many companies focus their strategy on promoting their message of selling healthy products, and so may include this information in a prominent place on the packaging. Health conscious buyers and customers are also attracted to this, so many companies highlight their health and nutrition information to attract more sales.