Packaging companies provide project management services for packaging all kinds of consumer goods, including wide-ranging food and non-food items. While there are distinct differences in the way food is packaged compared to products not intended for consumption, there are also similarities shared within the two product packaging categories.
Merchandising Food vs. Non-Food
Packaging is designed to sell units, whether food or non-food, so universal marketing concepts play prominent roles in packaging strategies devised for both classes of consumer goods. But while packages act as selling aids in both cases, food packaging is presented to the public in grocery stores, where competition requires products to stand out. Bottles, bags, pouches and cartons are used to package food as well as non-food items but the artwork on food containers is more eye-catching than graphics on non-food products sold in categories like health and beauty.
Repeating patterns and prominent logos featured on food packages capture shoppers’ attention in highly competitive supermarket environments. And food sells itself, so packages are laden with photographs of delicious looking dishes, making visual statements about what might be contained inside. Combination packages even contain clear viewing windows so shoppers can see the actual food items before making purchases. Non- food packaging often takes a safer approach, using subdued graphics to enhance credibility.
Food Packaging Functions
In addition to the influence packaging has on sales and merchandising, food packages also serve these vital functions:
- Protect – The protective value of food packaging goes both ways. Properly packaged food is protected from rough handling during shipping, and remains undamaged despite repeated handling by shoppers. And consumers are also protected from contamination when food is packaged properly.
- Inform – Food packages contain vital nutritional information and complete listings of the ingredients contained inside. Allergy warnings and descriptions of production facilities are also included on food packaging, keeping buyers informed about potentially harmful exposure to common allergens like nuts and dairy.
- Preserve – Food packaging extends the shelf lives of products, protecting them from exposure and limiting waste.
Safe Food Handling
Food handling regulations require some perishable product packaging to be conducted in controlled environments, at certain temperatures and humidity levels. In order to keep the food supply chain safe, materials and methods used for food packaging must comply with industry standards and government regulations. And like medication bottles and hazardous materials containers, food packaging is sometime equipped with tamper evident seals that immediately indicate whether the integrity of a package has been compromised.
Convenience dictates how modern goods are packaged, so oven-ready and microwave-ready food containers must be made of approved materials. Single-serve food packaging allows users to consume supplements and food products on-the-go, but packets must be made of food-safe materials rather than the less expensive films used for non-food items.