9 Basics Of Effective Food Packaging

Duck breast, burger meat and asparagus vacuum sealed on wooden table ready for sous vide cooking, from above

Food manufacturing and distribution is an industry worth billions of dollars that’s continuously growing. With this growth, the food industry has become more competitive that has led to manufacturers looking to differentiate their products and themselves from the competition. One way that companies have found to do this is through effective food packaging.

Food packaging serves many purposes. It preserves the product inside, it contains the product, and in some cases, it advertises to consumers. Food packaging is an integral part of marketing a business’ products because it allows manufacturers to display their offerings in ways that stand out compared with other products on store shelves.

The ultimate goal of food packaging is to protect the food from contamination and extend the product’s shelf-life. However, when food packaging is done effectively, it also allows your business to attract more customers. In addition to being functional, food packaging must be appealing to the consumer. 

Here are nine basics of effective food packaging:

  • Reduce Oxygen

It’s a crucial step in prolonging shelf life. The microorganisms that cause spoilage need oxygen and nutrients to grow and multiply. By reducing the amount of oxygen present in your food items, you can significantly extend their shelf life. 

There are several options to do this, such as:

  • Using oxygen absorbers;
  • Vacuum packaging; and
  • Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).

These methods work by removing the air from the packaging or replacing it with a gas that doesn’t support microbial growth such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Nowadays, most food packaging companies are using some form of modified atmosphere packaging. These methods are best applied for semi-perishable goods that don’t require retorting like deli meats.

  • Control Temperature

Temperature is another critical factor in food spoilage. The ideal range for most foods to make them last longer is 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher or lower temperatures will accelerate the deterioration process. 

There are several methods for controlling temperature, such as:

  • Refrigeration;
  • Freezing; and
  • Heat sealing. 

These methods can be applied to a wide range of packaging, from metal cans and glass jars to paperboard cartons. They’re best for dry packaged foods, particularly for items at higher risk of spoilage such as meat and dairy products. 

  • Prevent Moisture Loss

Moisture is another enemy of food freshness. Water vapor can cause foods to lose their flavor, color, and nutrients. It can also lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. 

Packaging materials that are resistant to moisture loss are essential for preserving food. Some common examples include:

  • Plastic bags; 
  • Pouches; and
  • Dried food packets. 

These packaging materials don’t allow water to escape and prevent oxygen entry that both compromise freshness. The best food products for this type of packaging are dried foods such as fruits, nuts, and jerky. You may click here to find more packaging solutions that use the best system available in the market.

  • Minimize Light Exposure

Light exposure is another major cause of spoilage in food products. Too much light exposure can lead to outgassing and oxidation, both of which will eventually cause your product to lose its flavor, color, and more. 

Light exposure can be prevented using opaque packaging such as cans, jars, and cartons. One good example is food packaging for coffee beans that uses metal lining that absorbs radiation. This shields the product from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of natural and artificial lighting while still allowing some oxygen to pass through so your coffee beans will have sufficient air for breathing while blocking out

  • Prevent Contamination

Another major threat to food safety is contamination. It can happen when foreign objects, such as dirt, dust, or insects, get into the packaging and come in contact with the food. It can also occur when bacteria or other microorganisms are introduced into the product. 

Proper packaging is the best way to prevent contamination from taking place. It should seal tightly, preventing dust and other particles from getting into the product. There are several ways to avoid contamination like:

  • Tamper-evident features;
  • Locking closures or lids; and
  • Retort touching. 

These features allow you to detect if there has been any tampering with the packaging and also keep out contaminants. They’re commonly used for products that are high-risk for contamination such as processed meats and seafood.

  • Make Information Accessible

The best way to provide your customer with useful information about the product is to put it on the packaging. It’ll help ensure that they use the product correctly and maintain its freshness. 

Some common types of information that you may find on food packaging include:

  • Storage instructions;
  • Use-by date;
  • Nutritional information; and
  • Ingredients list.

The best way to present your product information is to use clear and concise writing and visuals easily understood. It should also be easy to find the information, so you may want to use a sticker or label that can be peeled off or opened up for easy viewing.

  • Convey Quality

A big part of determining how much consumers are willing to pay for your product is the perception of quality. It’s often conveyed through the packaging which is why it’s so important to make sure that it’s designed in a way that’ll reflect the high quality of your food. 

Some ways to convey quality through packaging include:

  • Using high-quality materials;
  • Having a clean and polished appearance;
  • Having efficient and effective design; and
  • Using the right type of seal to ensure freshness. 

This last one is critical because it can also affect your product’s shelf life. Make sure that you choose a packaging system for food products that’ll keep out moisture, air, dirt, and other contaminants so that your product stays clean and lasts longer. 

  • Achieve Consumer Appeal

It’s mentioned above that the primary purpose of food packaging is to protect your product and give it long shelf life. Yet what good does it do if no one wants to buy it? 

That’s why you also need to ensure that your packaging will achieve consumer appeal. Since most products are purchased by impressionable eyes first, visual appeal is significant in attracting consumers to your product. 

Take note that even if you have a great product, you still need to put it in the right package to reflect its value and quality. There are many cases where the presentation of a food item greatly enhanced consumer experience and improved sales. One instance is adding decorative elements like a custom wax stamp to a box of chocolates.

  • Protect Your Product

Finally, food packaging must protect the content while being transported and while sitting on the shelf in stores. It means that you should choose a packaging material that can sufficiently keep out contaminants and withstand normal wear and tear. 

It’s also important to have a design to prevent the product from shifting around or getting squished during transit. In addition, you should make sure that the packaging is recyclable or biodegradable so that it can be easily disposed of after use.


Effective food packaging can be one of the concerns food companies have in their business operations. It involves designing the product’s package to help protect the food item and enhance its freshness, appeal to consumers, convey quality, and serve its purpose. It’s worthy to note that even if a food item has a high-quality formulation, it can still fail with an ineffective packaging system.

Conversely, you don’t want to overspend on a packaging system that isn’t needed. It can lead to a high product price that will scare away most consumers. It’s essential to balance quality and cost-efficiency to maximize your profits while still providing a great product for your customers.

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