Evolution of Food Packaging

Packaging has been an important thing since the dawn of the civilization. When the talk is of packaging of food, it has evolved with the progress of knowledge. Material discoveries, scientific inventions and understanding have ushered in manufacturing developments and countless benefits like improved health and safety of food distribution.

Today, food packaging is tremendously wide-ranging, and can put up with different distribution needs, ranging from weight minimization to food preservation. The goal to find the correct type of packaging is to meet the food requirements with least amount of tradeoffs. As the packaging industry constantly develops, the search for right kind of packaging type for food is intricate and exploratory.

Let’s go back in time and examine the characteristics that allow different forms of packaging possible and explore what encouraged the rise of the new materials and forms of packaging.

The earliest kind of food items packaging involved the use of materials such as paper, wooden crates, glass and cloth. Except the glass, all of these materials were made from organic materials and therefore biodegrade easily. But these materials had a downside, since they were made up an interlaced network of cellulose fibers which were mostly derived from plants. These forms of packaging were permeable, and did not preserve food for long period of time. On the other hand, glass is impermeable to gases and liquids, maintaining the product freshness for longer period of time without impairing the flavor.

Now, here is a very interesting fact about tin packaging. The French military general, Napoleon Bonaparte, made an announcement to offer twelve thousand francs for anyone who could invent a method to preserve food for his army. This led to the invention of tin can in 1809 by Nicholas Appert. He invented the method of sealing food in airtight can and then sterilizing them by a boiling process. Manufacturers later used tin plates to create tin cans for product packaging. This tin plate was typically steel with a tin coating.

1800s saw several advances in paper packaging industry, including mass production of paper bags and paper carton board. As a packaging material for food, it was not only lightweight and cheap but also provided a significant canvas for companies to communicate with the consumers. But it lacked grease resistance, so it was treated, coated or laminated with waxes or resins to strengthen it and empower it with protective properties.

From early 1900s to 1960, glass dominated the liquid market until metal and plastic became commercially available. Glass’s unfavorable characteristics like heaviness, breakability and high costs led to the rise of its competitors. But it was still preferable when it came to packaging of items like wines and fruit preserves.

After 1970, the world witnessed the rise of plastic packaging industry, and soon it became the most preferred packaging solution in food industry due to the longer resistance, flexibility and lightness it has. Today, this industry leads the packaging solution of food items. But interestingly, it is believed that paperboards will present a stronger competition to plastic substrates in the future. For more information, visit www.southpack.com

About The Author

Christina O’Leary is a professional beautician and has been practicing since a period of over 8 years. She is skilled at preservation of cosmetics for optimal use, and advocates that proper packaging and storage holds the key. She recommends www.southpack.com for all packaging solutions.