Why are foods packaged?

Why are foods packaged

Want to know why are foods packaged? Food packaging is integral to the modern food industry, not only does it enclose food to prevent it from contamination, protecting it from heat, light and other external factors, but it also contains vital information about the brand, nutrition, and expiry dates.


From meal prep containers, to ice cream containers, Venturepak can cater for all your food packaging needs. Plus, as we are industry leaders in our field, our experts are able to dissect an answer to the question ‘why are foods packaged?’ please read more to find out…

Why are foods packaged?

Wander around any supermarket, and you will see that the majority of food is packaged. The main reason is to prevent it from being contaminated by physical, chemical and biological sources. Packaged food will retain its quality throughout its shelf life, and that means it is very much key to food safety.

Food packaging is considered by most of us as a latter-day phenomenon, but in fact, even as far back as 7,000BC, food packaging was in existence, created from pottery and glass. In the absence of refrigeration, ceramics could keep things cool, and our ancestors could see that a deadly insect or something equally sinister hadn’t made its way into their drink. By the 1880s, Quaker Oats had invented the first folding box to package their breakfast cereals, and over the decades, packaging has become more and more sophisticated to accommodate our needs. While raw vegetables, cheese, fish, and meats can, if we wish, be bought unpackaged at greengrocers, fishmongers and deli counters, everything from soups to ready meals needs some form of modern packaging.

Foods – especially those which are softer and less robust – need to be transported, and packaging protects them from shock, vibration, compression and changes in temperature. Packaging is all about minimalizing the effect of external factors in a controlled or modified environment so that what is within remains the same as when it first left the factory.

A lot has been made of the impact of food packaging on the environment, but actually, if packaging didn’t exist, then more food would be contaminated and have to be thrown away, resulting in a mountain of food waste.  Food packaging actually has a positive effect on the environment – as long as it is made from the right materials.

It also divides foodstuffs into portions, which again helps minimise food waste, and if things are grouped into packs, then that can also cut down on the amount of packaging needed.

Food packaging is also pretty much essential for products such as anything liquid, whether it’s milk, water, or wine. Without bottles, we’d all have to carry around our own container so we could decant the liquid into it, and that would be extremely inconvenient.

Why are foods packaged – the commercial importance

Commercial food storage containers and packaging plays an important role in the buying process. The packaging tells consumers everything about the product with design, colour and lettering, all communicating a message. There’s the no-frills packaging that you can immediately identify as own-brand and budget buy, through to packaging that suggests you are choosing something extra special that has been tailored to your refined palate, or subtly informs you that you are a discerning kind of customer.

Packaging is important to food manufacturers in creating their “brand” so that every time you shop, you can spot foods from the same supplier. The aim is to create brand loyalty so that customers come back time after time. You only have to look at figures for sales of baked beans or breakfast cereals to understand which market leaders have cracked the holy grail of brand loyalty.  It’s as much down to packaging and the way it’s labelled as it is to multi-million-pound marketing campaigns. If your product isn’t visible, you’re not going to sell much, are you?

Another highly important function of packaging is to carry information such as the way in which the product should be stored, how to use the product and all nutritional information, including whether it contains any allergens. It seems ludicrous that a bag of peanuts would include the warning “contains nuts” but the packaging industry takes allergens extremely safely as part of its health and safety remit, and this kind of detail covers the manufacturer in case someone has a bad reaction.

The barcode, which was introduced in the 1970s, is another important addition to packaging, allowing all kinds of information to be stored and accessed digitally with just a scan of all those little black lines.


Materials used in food packaging

Packaging is divided up into three different kinds.

  1. Primary packaging

This is packaging that comes into direct contact with the actual foodstuffs.

  1. Secondary packaging

The packaging groups everything together in a multipack.

  1. Tertiary packaging

Packaging that gives goods their form and protects it so that it can be distributed at warehouses etc.

Paper and Board

One of the most popular forms of packaging is paper because it is so versatile. It keeps its shape at is relatively low cost, and you can print on it. Paper that is available commercially is mostly made of cellulose fibre from pulped wood but can also be made from materials such as cotton, straw hemp, and sisal, all of which are recyclable.


Plastics have a lot going for them, and they are light, strong, cheap to manufacture and perfect for protecting products. They don’t get wet in the rain and aren’t as fragile as glass. The worry is that they are bad for the environment. However, eco-friendly plastics are available.


Tin-plated steel is used for food cans and aluminium for drinks cans, trays, tubs and tubes, as well as foil.


For liquids, glass has long been the go-to. It’s perfectly recyclable and is a barrier to moisture and gas. Commercially available glass is formed from silica, washing soda and carbonate. Other compounds are often added to offer colour, sparkle, or heat shock resistance. The downside is it can be easily broken.

As you can see, the packaging is extremely important on many levels and doesn’t have to be harmful to the planet. If you would like to explore some of our packaging options, You can either give us a call on 01744 415111 or send us your enquiry in an email to sales@venturepak.co.uk.

Alternatively, you can also visit our contact page and fill out our online contact form with your enquiry and basic contact details. However you decide to contact our team, we’ll be in touch shortly to help you pick the perfect food storage containers for your company!