Food and Drinks Packaging

The fundamental idea of food and drink packaging is to ensure that the product is contained, protected / preserved and secure while being distributed or stored. The packaging is aimed at providing convenience for both supplier and customer during the sale and consumption of the product.

Packaging provides the customer with information on the product which they are purchasing, eg ingredients and nutritional information, and also provides an area for advertising / branding. Packaging is a way of showcasing a product, therefore it cannot exist by itself; it needs a product.

The most commonly used form of packaging used in the food and drinks industry is plastic. Easily shaped, light, provides a vast range of colours and the majority of plastics can be easily printed.

In the drinks industry plastic packaging is widely used. Take a large water bottle made from polycarbonate, it is relatively strong for its weight, is printable and can be labeled. A carbonated drinks bottle made from PET can also be labeled or printed and is easily shaped. These are usually manufactured with a mixture of injection and stretch blow moulding.

For the dairy industry the main process in the manufacturing of yogurt pots is thermoforming with the majority made from Polypropylene (PP) which can be readily shaped, heat sealed and printed i.e. a shelf ready pack. Copolymer can be added into the material and is generally used in chilled conditions to reduce pot brittleness (also added to lids for the same reason).

In both bottle and pot production the process begins with the Polymer granule which is then heated to allow the process to continue through injection or extrusion processing before forming / blowing.

With the introduction of rPET (recycling of drinks bottles etc) high clarity and high gloss pots can be produced using a very similar process to that of the yogurt pot but gives the dessert markets a lighter, stronger and more transparent pot. This supplies the customer with a pack which shows off the product contained very clearly as if packaging was not present.

The K3 packaging (plastic / cardboard combination) seen below maximises the advertising space by using a full height cardboard segment, a very light weight PP or rPET thermoformed inner pot, minimises the amount of plastic used and reduces the impact to the environment.

The convenience market i.e. crisp packets, plastic bags are produced via the blown film process. The blown film can be split into flat sheet and stored in roll stock form before being processed through corona treatment prior to printing. The film can also be metalized to improve barrier properties and shelf life.