Developments in Packaging and labeling

Fast developments are taking place in packaging. Success in the international market depends, amongst others on keeping pace with such development and in being innovative. India’s market failure due to poor packaging has been conspicuous in many cases. Although the Indian products are of a better standard, their packaging failed to attract common customers in Western Countries, necessitating an improvement in it.

It is now well recognized that the successful introduction of consumer packs is very much essential to realize maximum unit value and to consolidate the market position in respect of many exports items of India spices, marine products etc.

Flexible packaging which offers a combination of technological, economic, aesthetic and performance advantages unavailable from any other packaging form is regarded as the most dynamic segment of today’s packaging industry. Stand up pouch which can be used for packing of liquids, powders, paste and granules has proved to be the most cost effective functional flexible package. In the developed countries stand up pouches are extensively used and its share is continuously growing.

Packaging which pays due attention to the product characteristics, consumers convenience and appeal, market characteristics and economy is obviously an important determinant of success in international marketing. Being pragmatically innovative in marketing could be highly rewarding. Three most important considerations in Packaging now and in future will be safety, convenience and environmental impact.

The material used for food packaging shall properly preserve the properties of the product and shall not have any harmful effect on health. Further, it shall impart maximum convenience to the consumer. In addition, environment concerns have created a demand for social responsive packaging materials. Source reduction, reliability and similar attributes are now seen as highly positive.

Consumers, particularly in the advanced countries, today want more than plain food – they want convenience, in the form of fast, easy to prepare meals with fresh taste and quality of home cooking. It is said that a modern housewife is advanced countries is not prepared to spend more than 15 minutes to cook the evening meal; in the past it used to be 2 to 3 hours. It is also reported that anything which required a cooking time of more than five minutes will not be preferred by customers in the age of microwave ovens. Thus, freezer to oven meals has a great appeal. The presentation should be in readily microwavable containers where the same container which the food is sold can be used for cooking and after cooking the food can be served in the same container, thus avoiding the need to transfer the food to another container or vessel or dish for cooking and serving. This also saves the consumer from the additional work of washing the containers etc. Consumers n several parts of the world are indeed seeking a wider range of food presented in forms that need minimum preparation.

Increased world-wide awareness of environmental issues which has led to the banning of Styrofoam and limiting of plastics is creating a growing need for packaging. Solid bleached sulfate (SBS) board which is composed of bleached kraft fibers and which id highly versatile is an environmentally preferred material because it helps reduce the amount of landfill space consumed by packaging. It lends itself readily to the four major methods used to reduce or eliminate waste: source reduction, recycling, incineration and composing.

Unit packaging material in direct contact with food should have adequate barrier properties to protect the product from dehydration, oxidation, and discoloration and off flavor. POP packaging should be in the form of one piece unstapled cartons with easy opening features.

In short processors and exporters must pay sufficient attention to the requirements of modern packaging and must find better ways to present and differentiate their products in order to compete effectively in major world markets. The demand for eco-friendly packaging is growing, particularly in developed countries.

Labeling may be regarded as part of packaging because packaging decisions making also involves the consideration of the labeling requirements.

Sanitary obligations are a very important aspect of labeling. Many countries have laid down labeling requirements in respect of a number of commodities. According to the regulations in many countries, labeling of food items should disclose information about a number of aspects like date of manufacturing, expiry date or optimum storage period for goods which do not have an indefinite storage period, composition, storage conditions, if necessary, method of use, if necessary etc. In some countries labeling of certain products like cigarettes should include a statutory warning that cigarette smoking is injurious to health.

As indicated earlier many countries insist that labeling should be done in the popular languages of the country. This should preferably be done even in the absence of such a statutory requirement.

Besides satisfying the statutory and social requirements, labeling should help promote sales. Foe example, in self service stores a labeling should impart to the extent desirable and feasible the services of a salesman in informing an attracting the customers.

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