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THE FUNCTIONS OF PACKAGING

V. Ryan © 2004 - 2011

 

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Billions of pounds are spent on packaging food and other items each year. Sixty percent of all packaging is for food products. At the beginning of the 20th century most food was sold loose. It was weighed and measured out and placed in bags or directly into the shoppers bag to carry home.

 
 
Packaging and advertising were virtually unknown. Today packaging is a massive, lucrative industry and often it is the way the packaging looks that persuades the shopper to buy the product inside it.
 

THERE ARE SIX MAIN REASONS WHY PACKAGING DEVELOPED AND IS IN USE TODAY

 

1. To protect a product from damage or contamination by micro-organisms and air, moisture and toxins.
The product must be protected against being dropped, crushed, and the vibration it suffers during transport. Delicate products such as fruits need to be protected by a rigid package such as a laminated container.
The product most also be protected against the climate including high temperatures, humidity, light and gases in the air.
It must also be protected against micro-organisms, chemicals, soil and insects.

   

2. To keep the product together, to contain it (i.e. So that it does not spill).
Some shapes cannot be easily packaged, for example, certain vegetables. However, there are methods of getting around this problem. Suppliers of canned vegetables such as carrots have developed a particular type of plant that yields carrots that are straight and smaller than the normal variety. These fit into cans. Some products such as fruit juices and sausages need to be contained in packages that hold them together and are sealed to prevent spillage and loss.

   

3. To identify the product.
Packaging is the main way products are advertised and identified. To the manufacturer the package clearly identifies the product inside and it is usually the package that the customer recognises when shopping.
Advertising is very important when a manufacturer launches a new or existing product. The package, through its colour scheme or logo, is what is normally identified by the customer.
The package will also contain important information including ingredients and ‘sell by date’.

 
 
 

4. Protection during Transport and Ease of Transport.
A package should be designed to make it easy to transport, move and lift. A regular shaped package (such as a cuboid) can be stacked without too much space between each package being wasted. This means that more packages can be transported in a container of a lorry. Unusually shaped packages can lead to space being wasted and this can be costly if thousands of the same package are been transported.

 

5. Stacking and Storage.
In supermarkets and shops it must be possible to stack packages so that space is not wasted on the shelves. Lost space on shelves is looked up on a lost opportunity to sell to a customer. Also, the package must be designed in such a way that all the important information can be seen by a potential buyer, especially the product name. The next time you visit the supermarket look carefully at the shape of the packages. They are usually the same rectangular / cuboid shape. It is the selection of colours and shades that determine whether the product inside is regarded as a quality, sophisticated or cheap item. Often packages are stacked on top and alongside each other to reduce wasted space. The shape and form of the package determines how efficiently they can be stacked or stored.

   
6. Printed Information.
Information that is useful to consumers and companies such as Supermarkets, is printed on packaging. This includes, ingredients, sell by dates, price, special offers, manufacturers address, contact information, product title, barcode and more.

The bar code is extremely useful to the shop selling the product. When the barcode is scanned, the computer system automatically determines if the product needs reordering. Also, the price of the product appears at the till.
   
 
   
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