Packaging has played an important role in protecting, preserving, containing, storing and
delivering products since the earliest civilisations.
Amphorae (pottery jars) were used to store and transport olive oil, wine and dry foods in
the Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires and other civilisations.
Modern packaging dates back to the early 19th century when metal packaging was invented
to preserve foodstuffs needed by armies fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
Since then, innovation has come to characterise and define the packaging industry’s
approach to meeting society’s needs. New materials, designs and technologies enable
packaging to respond to the rapidly evolving demands of modern consumer lifestyles.
Packaging’s role in preventing and reducing product waste is often taken for granted but, in
recent years, its valuable contribution to reducing food waste has begun to be recognised.
This is important because the resources invested in growing, making and transporting
products is more than 10 times the resources used to make the packaging to protect them.
Packaging responds to increasingly varied consumer demands by providing a wide range of
portion sizes, portions of food containing a specific number of calories, tamper evidence,
child-resistant closures, easy opening for less able consumers.
The need to increase the shelf and storage life of food – in stores and at home – has
stimulated development of a huge number of innovative packs.
Reclosable/resealable packs continue to keep food fresher for longer once the pack is
opened. “Active” packaging absorbs moisture and other gases and so increases shelf life.
“Intelligent” packaging communicates information about the state of the contents.
Packaging innovations are driven primarily by companies’ desire to respond to their
customers and to reduce costs and environmental impact.