The History of Packaging

With the rise in demand for convenience foods and the globalisation of food transportation, packaging issues are vitally important in the developed world.

Flexible Barrier Packaging Set for Growth in 2016

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But food packaging is not a new concern. It has been an issue for homo sapiens since we emerged from the swamp and we needed to store our harvested food for winter. Grass, reeds and animal skins used to be the packaging of choice 20,000 years ago. But as we developed, we became a little more sophisticated in our packaging solutions.

Ceramic pots and jars, wooden crates and barrels and then glass containers have been employed for storing and transporting food over the millennia.

As trade between continents grew, so did the need to preserve food from spoiling before it reached its destination. Not only was it considered to be a waste if consumables went off in transit, but the wastage cost traders money.

So practical solutions had to be found. This involved either preservatives in or on foodstuffs or new ways of containing perishables.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that new technological advances were made to help reduce the amount of wasted food and make it easier and cheaper to transport and store it.

Lightweight packaging such as styrene foam, aluminium containers, shrinkable plastics, aluminium cans and plastic bottles have created a new industry. The packaging and storing industry is now worth billions across the world.

The Way Forward in Packaging

But still new packaging products are being sought.

An article on the website of Ireland bin racks specialists highlights that there is an emerging battle between foil packaging and transparent film packaging, with the latter set to outgrow the former in global sales in the next five years as demand increases from the emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East.

In the magazine Packaging News, the latest debate focuses on the benefits of transparent barrier films as opposed to barrier foils.

According to the Smithers Pira report, transparent barrier films are becoming more popular than things such as flexible foil, mainly because consumers want more transparency and the increasing use of microwave ovens and metal detectors.

However, with the growth of the environmental lobby and concerns about the damage caused by landfill sites, it is likely that technological advances will continue.