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Food industry: which packaging to choose for your products

The packaging of food products is crucial to ensuring their quality, safety and durability. This article aims to help you choose the best type of packaging for your food products.

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The different types of packaging

There are several types of packaging for food products, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of packaging are as follows:

Fragile packaging

Fragile packaging includes cartons, boxes, bags and glass bottles. Products such as fresh fruit and vegetables can be packed in plastic bags, cardboard trays or cardboard boxes. Liquid products, such as milk and fruit juice, are often packaged in glass or plastic bottles. Fragile packaging may require special precautions during handling and storage.

Resistant packaging

Packaging manufacturers have developed resistant materials to meet the needs of the food industry. Plastic packaging is often made from polyethylene, polypropylene, PET or PVC. These materials are strong, lightweight and resistant to impact, heat and humidity. Metal packaging, such as cans and tins, is resistant to oxidation and can preserve food for longer. What's more, they can be recycled. They are generally used to package vegetables, fruit or fish. Glass packaging is also resistant to oxidation, but is heavier and more fragile than other materials.

Advanced packaging technologies

Vacuum packaging and modified atmosphere packaging are advanced packaging technologies. They extend the shelf life of foods and maintain their quality by preserving their freshness, taste and texture.

Vacuum packaging is used to remove all the air from a pack before sealing it, allowing a vacuum around the product. This prevents the growth of bacteria. Vacuum-packed foods can be stored for longer without refrigeration. They are therefore recommended for dried foods, meats, cheeses, vegetables and seafood.

Modified atmosphere packaging is another advanced packaging technology that extends the shelf life of foods. Modified atmosphere packaging involves replacing the air in the pack with a specific gas, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen or natural gas. This slows the growth of bacteria and moulds. This allows food to be preserved without the addition of chemical preservatives.

Criteria for choice

The choice of packaging depends on a number of criteria. Here are the main ones to consider.

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Type of product

The choice of packaging will depend above all on the type of product. Fresh products such as fruit and vegetables require different packaging from processed products such as preserves or frozen foods. For fresh produce, it's important to choose packaging that allows good ventilation and lets in light. Micro-perforated sachets or transparent trays are common choices for these products.

Processed products, on the other hand, require more robust, hermetically sealed packaging to protect the food from external contaminants and humidity. Metal cans, glass jars or vacuum bags are common choices for these types of products.

Regulatory standards

The choice of packaging must also take into account the regulatory standards in force. Food products are subject to strict packaging standards to ensure their safety and quality. Regulatory standards may relate to the materials used, the dimensions, the information to be displayed on the packaging, and so on.

For example, allergen labelling often requires mandatory information to be displayed on the packaging. So it's important to choose packaging that displays them clearly and legibly. Similarly, waste management regulations may require the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials. Companies must therefore choose environmentally-friendly packaging to meet these requirements.

The message conveyed

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The choice of packaging can also be driven by the messages you want to convey for your brand. Packaging can be a way of standing out from the competition and reinforcing the brand image.

For example, companies that emphasise their commitment to the environment might opt for packaging made from recyclable or biodegradable materials. Brands that want to position themselves on the basis of quality will opt for top-of-the-range, well-kept packaging, such as metal tins or kraft paper sachets.

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