Successful Packaging Solutions of Perishable Food

Nov. 29, 2017

“When it’s time for a pallet to leave the warehouse and head out to its destination, the product has to be protected from environmental impacts. With perishable goods, that means everything from temperature changes to dust to rough movement”

The chilled and frozen food product and packaging industries have had to endure more than their fair share of issues in recent times. Food packaging plays a vital role in preserving food throughout the distribution chain. Without packaging, the processing of food can become compromised as it is contaminated by direct contact with physical, chemical, and biological contaminants. In recent years, the development of novel food packaging (modified atmosphere & active packaging) has not only increased the shelf life of foods, but also their safety and quality – therefore bringing convenience to consumers. Directly related, and interlinked, with food packaging is the concept of shelf life – the length of time that foods, beverages, pharmaceutical drugs, chemicals, and many other perishable items are given before they are considered unsuitable for sale, use, or consumption.

Food Packaging and Shelf Life caters to the needs of scientists, material scientists, food chemists and microbiologists in the area of food packaging and shelf life. 

Because of the many variables involved in packaging and shipping, getting perishables from point A to point B is one of the most challenging aspects of food manufacturing. Buyers – whether it’s a grocery store or the end-consumer – expect a safe, attractive, fresh product. There are hundreds of ways to package perishables – and thousands of products that can get the job done – but there are a few guiding factors to packaging perishables successfully.
Some of the challenges associated with packaging perishable foods and how to overcome each.

Protection

Product packaging in the food industry is unique in the sense that it must allow the contents inside to stay fresh and safe for consumption, even after long hours of shipment and distribution. For this reason, certain products will require specific types of packaging materials that protect them against temperature, manhandling, etc. Frozen food, dry grocery items, and perishables each need a different type of packaging to maintain freshness. It is also important to choose a packaging material that will withstand contamination.

Budget

Packaging doesn’t come cheap. In fact, packaging costs typically account for 8-10% of overall product costs. In addition to production costs, shipping and distribution costs may be affected based on the packaging materials a businesses chooses to use. Inventory costs that are based on the size of a packaged product will differ based on a product’s packaging design. If your business cannot afford its ideal packaging design, don’t get discouraged.

 “The Many Factors to Consider When Deciding the Best Packaging for Your Food Product” that demonstrates how packaging can evolve to become more sophisticated as a business grows.

Trends

As with any other industry, packaging in the food industry is affected by various trends that develop and gain prominence. For example, eco-friendly packaging is taking off with great popularity in multiple industries, including food and beverage. In order to remain at the front end of cutting-edge design, it’s wise to stay on top of what your competition is doing. Doing so will provide insights as to what elements of design are standard for certain products, and what can be improved on. There are software solutions available with data collection functions that enable field representatives to audit competitors’ activities using geo-tagged photos and customized mobile forms. While it is certainly important to be innovative in your packaging design, deviating too much from widely-recognized norms can actually confuse consumers and drive them away from your product. Therefore, during your packaging design process, try to strike a balance between being creative and being familiar.

Brand Personality

A product’s packaging design should reflect the brand image of the company that manufactured it, and food product packaging is no exception. Make sure that the packaging chosen for your business’s food product appeals to your target audience. As previously mentioned, your business’s packaging design shouldn’t deviate too much from universally-recognized norms, yet it should help your brand differentiate itself from others. Packaging design can convey how sophisticated or how simple your brand is.

Protecting the pallet

When it’s time for a pallet to leave the warehouse and head out to its destination, the product has to be protected from environmental impacts. With perishable goods, that means everything from temperature changes to dust to rough movement.

Working with an experienced third party logistics company is the best way to find a fast, efficient and safe route for the perishable product.

Letting it breathe

Fresh fruits and vegetables, or even food that is packaged warm or frozen, needs to be able to breathe. While not applicable for all perishable goods, it’s a big challenge for those food manufacturers where it is an issue. Some type of wrap to secure the pallet is still necessary, but the options we discussed in the last section may not work as well with this type of product.

Doing it with efficiency

When it comes to a product line at any food manufacturer or distributor, efficiency, flexibility and speed are the hallmarks of a well-run warehouse. With perishable foods, efficiency becomes even more important as the safety and freshness of the product is at stake.

Final Thoughts

Getting perishable goods from their source to consumer is a challenging proposition. Safe distribution of a perishable food product needs proper planning and the right tools. Finding the most efficient route to distribute perishable goods helps not only the bottom line, but also provides the consumer with the freshest product possible. These are a few essential factors that go into successfully packaging perishable foods and ensuring a fresh delivery.

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