Food Packaging: Types of Materials & Regulations

29th September 2022

Any product must be sold in some wrapping. Food is usually packaged for retail sales. Packages perform multiple tasks. It has both functional and aesthetic features:

  • Product protection from pollution. Solid, durable covers help keep products clean;
  • Keep food fresh and prolong its shelf life. Packed food does not spoil or stale;
  • Convenience from logistical and consumer points of view. Products are guaranteed to stay clean and protected during transportation;
  • An aesthetically appealing package serves as an excellent marketing tool. It attracts customers, helps promote products, and achieves more sales.

Note that each kind of product requires a different type of container. For example, liquid substances are poured into bottles, while dry or loose food is packed in boxes or bags.

Characteristics of Good Packaging

All types of food packaging are characterized according to the following points:

  • Each wrapping should contain info about ingredients, the manufacturer, legal address, shelf life, a logo, etc. Thus, labeling is a necessary characteristic for all covers.
  • How are packages unpacked? Is there a zip line or a cap? Where are the top and bottom of boxes? According to this criterion, there are packages with tear tape, sealed by machines, with caps, zip lines, etc.
  • The variety of dimensions is great. There are both small or even tiny covers and huge boxes or canisters. Nowadays, it is possible to produce wrapping for any kind of product or goods.
  • Depending on the materials used, wrapping can be more or less durable. Metal boxes are strong and durable, glass can also withstand many types of loads but it is fragile, plastic bags are elastic and resistant to raptures, while paper is afraid of water, fire, and tearing.

Judging by these characteristics, multiple types of product packaging are chosen for each good or product.

Types of Food Wrappers

The following raw materials are popular for making packages.


This is the most common material for the manufacturing of containers and bags for edible and non-edible goods. The variety of plastics is so wide that modern manufacturers can produce any wrapping from elastic bags up to durable, strong containers and boxes. Enterprises can easily pick a suitable option.

This material is highly resistant to sunlight, heat, frost, damage, and mechanical stress. Different sorts of plastics can be either elastic or durable solid. The weight of such containers is considerably lower if compared to other types of packages.

Although green activists claim that modern society should stop using plastic since it harms the environment and pollutes the Earth, it is proved by much research that plastic is more environmentally friendly than other packaging materials if it is properly disposed of and recycled.

The following types of materials for food packaging are produced from plastic:

  • doy-packs (for pet food, dry snacks, cookies, tea,),
  • flat pouches (pouch packaging for seeds, grocery, sweets),
  • gusseted bags (popular packaging solution for nuts, pet food, dry snacks, cookies. coffee and tea, etc.),
  • boxes,
  • bottles (for beverages and milk).

Note that modern plastic bags cause less harm to the environment. Researchers proved that if only one type of plastic is used for wrapping manufacturing, then the material is recycled. The thing is that such containers are produced from mono-structures, such as only PE or PP. Such packages can be perfectly recycled, rather than paper bags.


Glass is used for the manufacturing of bottles for liquids (beer and other hard drinks, juice). It provides reliable protection of stored products from damaging, cracking, or pouring out. It is resistant to mechanical influence and does not leave a footprint. Yet, it breaks easily when falling down. Glass is also an expensive material, which increases the final cost of the product.


Metals are widely used for the production of containers. Their distinctive properties are resistance to pressure, mechanical strength, and preservation of goods. Metal packaging protects goods from exposure to light, gasses, air, and water. Metal cans are widely used for beverages.

Foils and films

Foil preserves the properties of stored products, including smell and taste. It protects content from sunlight, heat, temperature changes, and moisture. It is used as a layer for multi-layer Tetra packs and other wrappers. Films are distinguished by their elasticity and flexibility.

Blister pack

Blister packaging is a case made of a usually transparent film that repeats the shape of the product and a thin substrate. More environmentally friendly polymeric materials are used for blister production. These are polystyrene, ABS plastic, polyethylene, and polycarbonate. They are widely used in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.

UK Food Wrapping Regulations

The county sets the next conditions for labeling goods:

  1. A font of a minimum of 1.2 mm is used.
  2. The following information is specified: a law address of the manufacturer, contacts, all the ingredients, including additives, the date of production, the expiry date, and origin.
  3. QUID declaration must be provided for all labeled food.

Businesses should strictly regulate the labeling process to avoid problems. A full regulation controls all the provisions of supplying goods for selling. Before making a purchase, consumers should get all the required information to avoid confusion.