Roles of Food Packaging:
The principal roles of food packaging are to protect food products from outside influences and damage, to contain the food, and to provide consumers with ingredient and nutritional information. Traceability, convenience, and tamper indication are secondary functions of increasing importance. The goal of food packaging is to contain food in a cost‐effective way that satisfies industry requirements and consumer desires, maintains food safety, and minimizes environmental impact.
Importance of Packaging:
Many researchers together with Price, Promotion, Placement and Product considers Packaging as a fifth “P” as a marketing tools, because they think that packaging is a face of a product which actually refers to the material that servers to contain, identify, describe, protect, display and promote a specific product. The main objectives of packaging are to keep the food in good condition until it is sold or have been consumed and to encourage the consumer to buy it again and again. Correct packaging is essential to achieve above given objectives. Yearly billion of pounds are spent on packaging food.
Functions of Packaging:
There are many protecting functions and purposes of packaging that influence consumers to buy a particular product. The various functions of packaging can be divided into three main types: Primary, secondary and tertiary (additional Functions). Primary functions concerned with the technical nature of the product while the secondary and tertiary functions are related to communications.
The Primary Functions of packaging are to protect and storage of a product from loss, damage or any kind of deterioration from environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, precipitation and solar radiation. i.e.; the durability of a package, because people wants material that will really protect the product they bought and something that can resist handling and shipping.
The Secondary and Tertiary Functions of packaging are the sales, promotional, service and guarantee functions. The main intentions of sales function of package is to promote the sales processes and to make it more effective and efficient, therefore in designing a package promotional materials should be placed at right place, because it plays an important role to communicate about the product functions, features, and other informational elements. The various informational elements such as product features, manufacturing and expiry date, ingredients information, nutritional information, food labelling etc. provides the consumer with details about the contents and use of a particular product. Therefore, these promotional materials should be properly placed on the package in order to attract the potential consumer’s attention and to have a positive impact on their buying behaviour 4.
Consumer Buying Behavior:
The other main concern of the study is to know about consumer buying behaviour or consumer decisions making process and how packaging can influence them to buy a particular product. Packaging defines consumer buying behaviour as the process by which “individuals search, select, purchase, use, and dispose of goods and services, in satisfaction of their need and want”. When consumers need to purchase something, they usually go for the brands which are trustworthy and try not to seek other products such as new products or the brand which they don’t know at all 5. Therefore, at the point of purchase what communicates or influence consumer to buy particular product is only ‘Packaging’. Quality judgments are significantly influence by the product characteristics reflected by the packaging. Because packaging acts as a communicator, and it underlines overall features and functions of a product that lies in it such as informational elements, product features, material used etc. so if the package is well design and attractive enough, consumer will likely to buy it especially in the case of new products. So, it is important that products should be well and attractive packaged to gain consumer attention.
Food packaging can retard product deterioration, retain the beneficial effects of processing, extend shelf‐life, and maintain or increase the quality and safety of food. In doing so, packaging provides protection from 3 major classes of external influences: chemical, biological, and physical.
Chemical protection minimizes compositional changes triggered by environmental influences such as exposure to gases, moisture, or light. Many different packaging materials can provide a chemical barrier. Glass and metals provide a nearly absolute barrier to chemical and other environmental agents, but few packages are purely glass or metal since closure devices are added to facilitate both filling and emptying. Closure devices may contain materials that allow minimal levels of permeability. For example, plastic caps have some permeability to gases and vapors, as do the gasket materials used in caps to facilitate closure and in metal can lids to allow sealing after filling. Plastic packaging offers a large range of barrier properties but is generally more permeable than glass or metal.
Biological protection provides a barrier to microorganisms like pathogens and spoiling agents like insects, rodents, and other animals, thereby preventing disease and spoilage. In addition, biological barriers maintain conditions to control ripening and aging. Such barriers function via a multiplicity of mechanisms, including preventing access to the product, preventing odor transmission, and maintaining the internal environment of the package.
Physical protection shields food from mechanical damage and includes cushioning against the shock and vibration encountered during distribution. Typically developed from paperboard and corrugated materials, physical barriers resist impacts, abrasions, and crushing damage, so they are widely used as shipping containers and as packaging for delicate foods such as eggs and fresh fruits. Appropriate physical packaging also protects consumers from various hazards. For example, child‐resistant closures hinder access to potentially dangerous products. In addition, the substitution of plastic packaging for products ranging from shampoo to soda bottles has reduced the danger from broken glass containers.
Containment and food waste reduction:
Any assessment of food packaging’s impact on the environment must consider the positive benefits of reduced food waste throughout the supply chain. Significant food wastage has been reported in many countries, ranging from 25% for food grain to 50% for fruits and vegetables. Inadequate preservation/protection, storage, and transportation have been cited as causes of food waste. Packaging reduces total waste by extending the shelf‐life of foods, thereby prolonging their usability. Packaged foods result in 2.5% total waste—as compared to 50% for fresh foods—in part because agricultural by‐products collected at the processing plant are used for other purposes while those generated at home are typically discarded. Therefore, packaging may contribute to the reduction of total solid waste.
Marketing and information:
A package is the face of a product and often is the only product exposure consumers experience prior to purchase. Consequently, distinctive or innovative packaging can boost sales in a competitive environment. The package may be designed to enhance the product image and/or to differentiate the product from the competition. For example, larger labels may be used to accommodate recipes. Packaging also provides information to the consumer. For example, package labelling satisfies legal requirements for product identification, nutritional value, ingredient declaration, net weight, and manufacturer information. Additionally, the package conveys important information about the product such as cooking instructions, brand identification, and pricing. All of these enhancements may impact waste disposal.
Materials Used in Food Packaging:
Package design and construction play a significant role in determining the shelf life of a food product. The right selection of packaging materials and technologies maintains product quality and freshness during distribution and storage. Materials that have traditionally been used in food packaging include glass, aluminum foils and laminates, tinplate, and tin‐free steel, paper and paperboards, and plastics.
Moreover, a wider variety of plastics have been introduced in both rigid and flexible forms. Today’s food packages often combine several materials to exploit each material’s functional or aesthetic properties. As research to improve food packaging continues, advances in the field may affect the environmental impact of packaging.
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