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Packaging your Product

Food packaging is one of your strongest tools you have when marketing your product.
Disposable compostable placed from Leaf Republic
© International Culinary Studio

Food packaging is one of your strongest tools you have when marketing your product.

Food packaging design’s primary function is to attract. You only have 1/10th of a second to get customers attention when they buy. It should stand out from others and sell itself. Good package design will balance shelf appeal with messaging as well as function.

Your package is your brand ambassador. This means you need to have a strong brand identity and your package design must be consistent with your brand identity, as this will help determine the colour, size, shape and materials used in your packaging.

Messaging on your packaging communicates information about your product and must be clear, concise, and relevant to your target audience. Your packaging must clearly communicate your company name, logo, band, and any legal messages.

Food packaging is the science, technology and art of enclosing and protecting food products for storage, distribution, sale, and use.

Types of packaging

Primary packaging

This is usually the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents.

Secondary packaging

This is outside the primary packaging, used to group primary packages together.

Tertiary packaging

This packaging is used for bulk handling, warehouse storage and shipping.

Function of food packaging

Food products have variable shelf lives and need to be packaged for a variety of reasons, most notably is to preserve and protect the food from contamination making it safe for the customer.

Packaging has several objectives:

Physical protection

The food may require protection from shock, vibration, compression, and temperature etc.

Barrier protection

The food may require protection from air, moisture, dust, and dirt etc.

Food safety

Food that is not packaged is more vulnerable to contamination from foreign and harmful bacteria.


The shelf life of a food increases when it has been packaged and stored correctly.


Small food items need to be grouped together in one package for efficiency i.e., powders and granular items.

Information transmission

Packaging and labels can communicate product information, how to use, transport, recycle and dispose of the package or product. Some information is required by government.


The design, layout, appearance and even the material of food packaging can serve to entice consumers to pick up a product and learn more about it. It can make your product instantly recognizable for example a coke can.


Many consumers appreciate the convenience of food packaging. It keeps items organised, sorts them into servings and shares nutritional information. Packages can have features which add convenience such as opening and reclosing, smart indicators, and pouring features.

Portion control

Single serve, multiply serving portions have a precise amount to control usage or prevent wastage.


Packaging can be made with tamper evident features, anti-pilferage indicating seals, tracking and surveillance tags.

Labelling food packaging

Food labelling may refer to the packaging in general or nutrition facts as required by legislation in some countries. Labelling food products is covered in more depth in the next section of this lesson.

The purpose of labelling a food package.

  • Brand identification.
  • Product description.
  • Promotion.
  • To provide information.
  • To advertise the product.
  • To meet legal requirements.

Materials used for food packaging

Various materials are used for food packaging, plastic, glass, metal, aluminums, paper, and cardboard are the most common types of materials.

Considerations when designing your food package

  • Will a flexible or rigid container support your product.
  • What material will highlight my product?
  • What material will allow for maximum product freshness and protection.
  • How much space will I have for labels, messaging, branding.
  • Cost of materials and design.
  • Ease of which it can be packed into secondary packaging.
  • What is the environmental impact of the packaging?

Sustainable packaging

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) envisions a world where all packaging is sourced responsibly, designed to be effective and safe throughout its life cycle, meets market criteria for performance and cost, is made entirely using renewable energy, and once used is recycled efficiently to provide a valuable resource for subsequent generations.

Sustainable packaging is:

  • Beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
  • Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  • Able to maximize the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  • Made from materials healthy for people and the environment.
  • Physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  • Designed for reuse, recycling, or composting. Key questions on your packaging design.
  • Does the packaging protect your product?
  • Is the design cost effective?
  • Does the design communicate effectively?
  • Does the design meet the legal regulations?
  • Is the packaging sustainable?


Have you decided on your packaging? Write a detailed explanation of your packaging and how it meets the key questions on your packaging design.

© International Culinary Studio
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