Good quality packaging is important as it aids food distribution, and rapid reliable distribution helps local food surpluses, allowing consumers more choice in the food available and helps reduce malnutrition. Packaging also reduces post harvest losses, which together with giving access to larger markets, allows producers to increase their incomes. Therefore, it is important and crucial to have adequate packaging.
A brief history of materials used in the earliest times for domestic storage and local sales.
Leaves - readily available, and were used as wrappers for products such as cooked foods that were quickly consumed.
Wood - wooden containers protect against crushing, have good stacking characteristics, were traditionally used as shipping containers for a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables and bakery products.
Leather - generally made from camel, pig or kid goat hides, and have traditionally been used as flexible, lightweight, non-breakable containers for water, milk and wine.
Pottery - is still used domestically in most developing countries for storage of liquid and solid food such as milk, yogurt, beer, dried foods, etc.. If glazed and well sealed, they prevent oxygen, moisture and light from entering the food and are therefore suitable for storing wines and oils.
Glass or Plastic - containers have largely replaced pottery because of its height, weight, fragility but a disadvantage for adequately cleaning container for re-use.
Metal Containers - there are two basic types of metal cans: those that are sealed using 'double seal' and are used to make canned foods
Overall, these materials have been developed over the last 200-300 years and are main types of packaging used by small-scale food processors.
Paper and Cardboard - are made from wood pulp and additives are mixed into the pulp to give particular properties to the packaging and are still widely used throughout the world.
Flexible Plastic Films - In general, flexible plastic films have relatively low cost and good barrier properties against moisture and gases, they are heat sealed to prevent leakage of contents, they add little weight to the product and they fit closely to the shape of the food, thereby, wasting little space during storage and distribution. They are easy to handle and convenient for the manufacturer, retailer and consumer. There is wide choice of plastic films made from different types of plastic polymer, each can have ranges of mechanical, optical, thermal and moisture/gas barrier properties and are produced by variations in film thickness (e.g. polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene). Typically, the information required includes: type of plastic polymer(s) required thickness/strength; moisture and gas permeability, heat seal temperature, printability on one or both sides and suitability for use on the intended filling machinery.
Packaging available from Clifton contain the following material:-
Polypropylene - a clear glossy film with high strength and puncture resistance. It is widely used to pack biscuits, snack foods and dried foods
Laminated Films - lamination (bonding together of two or more films improves the appearance, barrier properties or mechanical strength of a package. Some examples of the films are, snack foods, bakery products, confectionery, meats, cooked foods, ice, soups and dried foods etc.
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