What is packaging?
According to the International Packaging Institute, Switzerland; packaging is defined as enclosure of a commodity in a wrapped pouch, bag, box, cup, tray, can, tube, or another container form to perform any or a combination of the functions given below. Following are the functions containment, brand communication, protection, preservation, information, and convenience.
Packaging can be summarised as science, art, and technology of enclosing goods for sale use, and distribution.
Categorization of Packaging
There are various categorizations of packaging used. The most widely used ones are based on the layering of the packaging. The closest analogy to be drawn here is one of an onion. Primary packaging is the first layer of packaging that holds the goods together. This is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package that is in direct contact with the contents.
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Secondary packaging is the layer outside the primary packaging. It is used to prevent pilferage or group primary packages together. Tertiary packaging facilitates bulk handling, warehouse storage, and transport shipping.
The categorization of packaging is at times arbitrary and it may overlap for different goods. For instance primary packaging for a good A, maybe a tertiary packaging for good B.
Purposes of Packaging
Packaging holds a plethora of purposes. These are a few purposes elucidated below.
First, physical protection. The goods enclosed in the package may require protection from mechanical shock, electrostatic discharge, temperature, and other physical factors.
Second, barrier protection, goods often require a physical barrier between oxygen, water vapor, dust, and other particulate matter. Barrier protection ensures the good is well insulated from these external factors and ensures the good is well preserved for the intended shelf life and is not contaminated in any manner.
The third is agglomeration. Physically small goods can be managed, stored, and handled better in agglomerated packaging than in single units. For instance flour, it is better to sell in agglomerated packages than loose as the good is uniform and homogenous in nature.
The fourth is information transmission. Packages and labels are an efficient and effective medium to communicate information to use, transport, recycle the product. For instance, government regulations mandate mandatory disclosure of information about goods and this is given in the packaging.
Finally, marketing packaging is yet again an effective channel to differentiate similar products based on minute different characteristics of that product. A graphic label conveys a volume of information regarding that product. The graphic label, in turn, facilitates and induces a larger customer base to purchase the given product.
Latest Technology in Packaging
Packaging Technology has seen leaps and bounds in its advancement. However the most promising of these technologies are the following.
First, the internet of packaging, packaging leverages technology such as QR codes, smart labels, RFID, and Near Field Communication chips have augmented the packaging industry. These technologies offer the twin benefit of advanced security and convenience. The product carrier acts as a data carrier as well as a digital tool. AR packaging offers consumers a range of discounts on products and video tutorials on how to use the product.
Secondly, biodegradable technology in packaging is in vogue now. Since the early 20th century, plastic and polymer derivatives are the most widely used packaging material. However, with growing environmental awareness and the transition from a plastic packaging hegemony to other alternatives, people are preferring biodegradable alternatives. People are transitioning to packaging based on starch, cellulose, and biopolymer derivatives, that are environmentally more friendly.
Finally, digital printing is a new and emerging technology in the field of packaging. Conventional printing faces many challenges like accuracy, high labor costs, and low quality of color. It is expected that digital printing will solve the above-mentioned issues that conventional printing methods like traditional offset or flexo printing pose. It reduces wastage and lowers inventory requirements.
Major Players in Packaging Industry
A few of the major players in the packaging industry are as follows.
By market revenue, Ball Corporation is the largest packaging company in the world currently. It was founded in 1880 by five brothers and is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, US. They offer metal packaging products, especially for food and beverages. Mr. John Hayes is the current CEO.
International Paper Company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee was incorporated in 1941. It is one of the leading manufacturers of fiber-based packaging. They have their operations across five continents; Asia, North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. They specialize in consumer packaging for cosmetics, corrugated packaging, and food service packaging. International Paper Company is run by Mr. Mark Sutton who has been the CEO of the firm since 2014.
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