Module 1. Introduction and history of packaging development

Lesson 1

1.1 Introduction and History of Package Development

1.1.1 Changes in packaging to meet society’s needs
  • Packaging is not a recent phenomenon.
  • Packaging is an activity closely associated with the evolution of society and, can be traced back to human beginnings.
  • The nature, degree, and amount of packaging at any stage of a society’s growth reflect the needs, cultural patterns, material availability and technology of that society.
  • A study of changing roles of packaging and forms over the centuries is a study of the growth of civilization.
  • Social changes are inevitably reflected in the way we package, deliver and consume goods.
1.1.2 The origins of packaging

1. We don’t know what the first package was, but we can certainly speculate.

2. Primitive humans: nomadic hunter / gatherers lived off the land. Social groupings restricted to family units.

3. They would have been subject to the geographical migrations of animals and the seasonal availability of plant food.

4. Primitive people needed containment and carrying devices and out of this need came the First “package” which might be

a) A wrap of leaves

b) An animal skin

c) The shell of a nut or gourd

d) A naturally hollow piece of wood
  • Early packaging materials were Fabricated sacks, baskets and bags, made from materials of plant or animal origin; wood boxes replaced hollow logs; a clay bowl, the fire-dried clay pots (pottery and ceramic trade).
  • The discovery of glass: About 1500 B.C., the earliest hollow glass objects appeared in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
  • In China, Ts’ai Lun is credited with making the first true paper from the inner bark of mulberry trees. The name “paper” given to the Chinese invention made of matted plant fibers.
  • Paperboard cartons and corrugated fiberboard boxes were first introduced in the late 19th century.
  • In 768, the oldest existing printed objects (Japanese Buddhist charms); in 868, the oldest existing book (the Diamond Sutra) printed, found in Turkistan.
  • Iron and tin plated steel were used to make cans in the early 19th century.
  • Packaging advancements in the early 20th century included Bakelite closures on bottles, transparent cellophane overwraps and panels on cartons, increased processing efficiency and improved food safety.
  • As additional materials such as aluminum and several types of plastic were developed, they were incorporated into packages to improve performance and functionality.
1.1.3 The industrial revolution and modern food packaging

The Industrial Revolution started in England in about 1700 and spread rapidly. It is the change that transformed people with peasant occupations and local markets into an industrial society with world-wide connections. This new type of society made great use of machinery and manufactured goods on a large scale for general consumption.

1.2 Definitions of Packaging

Packaging is described / defined in various ways:
  • Packaging is best described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, distribution, storage, retailing, and use of the goods.
  • Packaging is a complex, dynamic, scientific, artistic, and controversial business function.
  • Packaging is science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation and production of packages.
  • Packaging is an act of providing outer covering to an object or an act of putting the product in container or enclosing the object.
  • Packaging is a technique of using appropriate forms of container and components so as to protect, carry, identify and merchandize the content.
  • Packaging may be defined as the protection of materials of all/any kind by means of container so designed as to prevent damage to the contents by outside influences.
  • Packaging is a means of ensuring safe delivery of the product to the ultimate consumer in sound condition at minimum cost.
  • Packaging is a techno-economic function aimed at minimizing costs of delivery while maximizing sales (and hence profits).
  • Dictionary meaning: To package i.e. to put (a commodity) into protective wrapper or container for shipment / transport or storage.
  • Package means a covering wrapper or container which attracts the eye of the customer and at the same time protects the merchandize.
  • Packaging is descried as a complex, dynamic, scientific, artistic and controversial segment of business. It is certainly dynamic and constantly changing. New materials need new methods, a new methods demand new machinery, new machinery results in better quality and better quality opens up new markets which require changes in packaging. The cycle is repeating.
  • Packaging is an all-embracing term and covers the operation of cleaning, giving protective coating, weighing and filling, closing, labeling, surface designing, printing, cartooning and bracing, containerizing, marketing and may also include material handling.
  • Packaging is defined as “the enclosure of products, items, or packages in a wrapped pouch, bag, box, cup, tray, can, tube, bottle, or other container to perform the following functions: containment; protection or preservation; communication; and utility or performance.” If the device or container performs one or more of these functions, it is considered a package. This definition implies that packaging serves more than one function; i.e., it is multifunctional.
Packaging functions range from technical ones to marketing oriented ones as shown in the following Table 1.1

Table 1.1 Functions of packaging

Technical Functions

Marketing Functions













Technical packaging professionals need science and engineering skills, while marketing professionals need artistic and motivational understanding.

1.3 Changing Needs and New Roles
  • All historical changes have had an impact on the way products are bought, consumed and packaged.
  • Packaging is important to food supply because food is organic in nature (an animal or plant source) and one characteristic of such organic matter is that it has a limited natural biological life.
  • Most food is geographically and seasonally specific.
  • In a world without packaging, we would need to live at the point of harvest to enjoy these products, and our enjoyment of them would be restricted to the natural biological life span of each.
  • It is by proper storage, packaging and transport techniques that we are able to deliver fresh potatoes and Apples, throughout the year and throughout the world.
  • We are free of the natural cycles of feast and famine that are typical of societies dependent on natural regional food-producing cycles.
  • Central processing and pre-packaged food has the advantage that it allows value recovery from what would normally be wasted and the By-products of the processed-food industry form the basis of other sub-industries.
  • The economical manufacture of durable goods also depends on sound packaging. A product’s cost is directly related to production volume, distribution and packaging.
  • Humankind’s global progress is such that virtually every stage in the development of society, packaging is present somewhere in the world today.
1.3.1 The United Nations and packaging

a. The less-developed countries do not have adequate land to raise enough food.

b. Food goes beyond its natural biological life, spoils, is lost, is infested with insects or eaten by rodents, gets wet in the rain, leaks away or goes uneaten for numerous reasons, and is lost all of which can be prevented by sound packaging principles.

c. No industry can recover secondary value from food by-products and a poor economy can not afford wastages.

d. Packaging is perceived to be a weapon against world hunger.

1.4 Status of Packaging in India

1.4.1 Indian packaging industry
  • Early 1950’s showed slow pace but 1980-85 onwards greater change was witnessed.
  • The market volume of the Indian packaging industry amounts to about Rs. 77,570 crore and has constantly grown by approximately 15 percent year per year.
  • It is expected that the pace of growth will accelerate to between 20-25 percent per year.
  • The highest demand for packaging and the associated equipment come from the food processing industry at 50 percent and from the pharmaceutical industry at 25 percent.
  • The Indian packaging industry contributes nearly 2 per cent to the country’s overall GDP.
  • Food and beverages which will apply mainly packaging are using some 60-65 per cent of all packaging materials.
  • Rapid urbanization increased spending power of large growing middle class, growing number of working women, changing life style/standard of living, liberalization and organized retail sector are the catalysts to the growth of packaging.
  • According to the ‘India Food Report 2008’ published by Research and Markets. The Indian food market is estimated to total about Rs. 8,82,350 crore.
  • Food retail turnover is expected to grow from the current Rs 3,39,365 crore mark to 7,27,212 crore by 2025.
  • There are about 600-700 packaging machinery manufacturers, 95 percent of which are in the small and medium sector located all over India.
  • Indian packaging machinery imports are around Rs 606 crore (20-25 percent) while the Indian packaging machinery exports are rapidly growing.
  • Germany and Italy are the largest suppliers of packaging machinery to India but focus is now shifting to Taiwan and China.
  • Indian companies are now placing increasing emphasis on attractive and hygienic packaging. This promises enormous potential for the future.
  • Today consumer is showing greater awareness towards food packaging for assurance on quality, quantity and hygiene of foods.
  • Potential benefits offered by unit packaging in retailing are also well realized.
  • Self service groceries, super markets (especially in urban sector) increased the demand for retail packs.
  • Changes in purchasing power, family sizes, frequency of shopping, inflation, changed food habits lead to changes in packaging material and pack sizes.
  • Every sector of user industry has become package conscious and the need for scientific, functional and aesthetic packaging is being realized.
  • Nationwide marketing becoming common trend for processed foods.
  • Expanding electronic media unprecedented audience reach (Paper, radio, TV) widen market of packaged food.
  • Thus dramatic change is observed bringing overall revolution in packaging concept, style and forms.
  • New concepts like aseptic packaging, system packaging, thermoforming, in-pack sterilization of foods have taken industrial footing in Indian market.
1.4.2 The modern packaging industry The broad industry divisions
  • “Converters”: to take various raw materials and convert them into useful packaging materials or physical packages (cans, bottles, wraps). To this point, packaging becomes a materials application science. The company forming the physical package will also print or decorate the package.
  • Package “users”: the firms that package products are also regarded as part of the packaging industry and are divided into a number of categories and each of these can be further subdivided.
  • The “supplier”: manufacturers of machines for the user sector and the suppliers of ancillary services, such as marketing, consumer testing and graphic design, are also important sectors of the packaging industry. Professional packaging associations
  • IoPP: Institute of Packaging Professionals, Illinois, USA
  • PAC: Packaging Association of Canada, Toronto
  • PMMI: Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, Reston, VA, USA
  • FPA: Flexible Packaging Association, Linthicum, MD, USA
  • WPO: World Packaging Organization, Stockholm, Sweden Other organizations having a major impact on packaging activities
  • ISO: International Organization for Standards, Geneva, Switzerland
  • ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials, Pennsylvania, USA
  • TAPPI: Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, Norcross, GA, USA
  • ISTA : International Safe Transit Association, Michigan, USA
  • FSSAI: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, New Delhi


Fig. 1.1 The packaging industry can be divided into those that use packaging for their products and those that supply to these users

Last modified: Monday, 29 October 2012, 9:09 AM