Why do we use food packaging?

Food packaging needs to provide a convenient, cost-effective way of transporting goods. Quality food packing machines protect products from the environment, meaning they last longer and can be transported and stored without sustaining damage. However, the various techniques used to package and protect, all come with issues to consider, such as material and energy costs, and pollution and environmental impact. 

What are the main functions of food packaging?

Food packaging needs to meet four basic criteria.

  1. Product identification: Customers need to be able to identify, variety, size, ingredients, quantity, and portion type of product they are buying quickly.
  2. Product protection: Food products need to arrive at point of sale in a way that meets industry-specific standards and protects the food from the environment, including dirt, insects, dampness and breakage.
  3. Convenience: Food packaging also needs to meet logistical needs. Transportation and storage are both major considerations in food packaging. Products need to be easily stackable and robust, while also allowing for convenience of consumption.  
  4. Product promotion and brand visibility: Packaging needs to stand out amongst the other products on the shelf and enhance the visual image of the brand; it needs to work as a passive salesman, embedding itself in the minds’ of the customers.

Different types of food packaging machines

Vacuum packaging machines

Vacuum packaging works by completely eliminating oxygen in the product and package, thus suppressing the proliferation of any aerobic organisms. In this air-free environment, foods remain fresher for longer.

Vacuum storage is particularly well suited to freezer or cold-display products since it considerably extends their lifespan. Perishable products such as meat, fish, cheese, fruit salads also benefit from vacuum packaging since it locks in their aromas, flavours, and nutritional value.

Vacuum packaging machines range from small and compact, best suited to small companies or even large households, to industrial level equipment capable of handling demanding workloads. Larger machines can also incorporate label printing and automated moving facilities offering extremely high operating speeds.

Shrink wrap machines

How shrink wrap machines work

A wrap made up of polymer plastic film is applied to the product, which then passes through a heat tunnel on a conveyor causing it to shrink tightly conforming to the product being wrapped.

Why shrink wrap packaging is so important in the food industry

  • Shrink wrap machines preserve freshness  - By preventing oxygen from reaching the food, shrink wrapping extends shelf life and locks in freshness and flavour. Increasing longevity reduces delivery costs and environmental impact thanks to a lower need for regular deliveries.
  • Product aesthetics - Since it uses a clear film, shrink wrap is ideal for packaging fruit and veg as it allows the customer to evaluate the quality and freshness of the product before purchasing. Also, since shrink wrap is printable, it can be branded allowing companies to advertise and display important product information.
  • Increase product protection - By sealing the product away from oxygen and the atmosphere, shrink wrap prevents it from spoiling and increases longevity both during transportation and at point of sale display.
  • Shrink wrap offers greater storage capacity - Boxes and other bulky containers can occupy more space than necessary. Since shrink wrap adheres closely to the form of the actual product it keeps storage requirements to a minimum.

Shrink wrap machines at the PPMA TOTAL Show 2019

As the UK’s leading production line event for processing and packaging machinery, the PPMA Total Show 2019 will feature a wide range of exhibitors with a selection of food packaging machines, including vacuum wrapping and shrink wrapping.