Food of any shape and size has to be packaged in the right material for the job, this is a basic foundation of the packaging industry as a whole. While all packaging must have the fork and wine glass mark to show it adheres to these strict regulations and is suitable for the job, the style, materials and size of this packaging looks set to change.
At the moment
All food packaging must adhere to the European legislation for food contact materials that is outlined in the 1935:2004 framework. This ensures that all packaging is safe, does not contaminate the food or alter its structure in a harmful way, has the ability to trace every component part and is manufactured according to good practice.
When it comes to labelling, this must be totally clear and indicate exactly what is contained within the packaging. This applies to the products within the food or drink, ensuring that any allergens are highlighted and all nutritional information is displayed.
Changes to come
Kerry McCarthy has recently been appointed agricultural minister for Labour and while you would not expect this to have much of an impact on the packaging industry, Kerry has said that she believes “the vast majority of the meat-eating British Public would welcome better welfare standards and clearer food labelling.”
Labelling clearly has an impact as last year alone, 55% of the eggs that were purchased by British consumers were either free-range or barn-laid. Clearly, consumers appreciate having the choice and strict food labelling helps them to make a more ethical choice when it comes to making a purchase. With her appointment, this labelling will only continue to change and focus on the ethical value as much as what is within the product.
The most significant change could come in the size of the packaging that is being produced. A recent study found that larger portion sizes and packaging definitively increase the amount of food that people eat.
By reducing the portion sizes that are contained within ready meals, crisps and snacks for example, people will eat about 4% less, which is equivalent to 297 Kcals a day. Obviously this move towards smaller packaging will be supported by the government in terms of reducing obesity levels and keeping Britain healthier.
Researchers on this study would also like to see much clearer messaging on packaging indicating whether this is a single portion or something to be shared with others.
The packaging industry will continue to grow and advance, with changes to technology, environmental policy and health all impacting on the role that packaging takes in food production. What is clear is that packagers need to be open to the change and ready to provide the innovative solutions that these ethical and size alterations demand.