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EXPORT Packaging

By Pierre Picot

1. The Functions of Packaging 2

2. Types of Packaging 3

2.1. The 3 levels of packaging 3

2.2. Primary packaging 4

2.3. Protective – Transport Packaging 7

2.4. Six packaging checks for Export 13

3. Design 14

3.1. Structural design 14

3.2. Graphics design 15

4. Labelling, marking, coding 16

4.1. Primary packaging labelling and coding 17

4.2. Transport packaging labelling and coding 19

4.3. Designing the Label 19

4.4. Labelling materials 20

5. Health, safety and environmental concerns 20

5.1. Market requirements 21

5.2. Environmental concerns 21

5.3. Packaging ideas to help the environment 22

6. Packaging costs 23

7. Materials 24

7.1. Paper and board 24

7.2. Plastics 27

7.3. Metal cans 33

7.4. Glass 34

7.5. Wood Packaging 35

8. Summary 36


o Understand the prime role of packaging in securing exports;

o Understand the differences and complementarities between protective packaging and point of sale / display packaging and their importance in successfully exporting goods;

o Be aware of the major factors to consider when deciding on appropriate packaging and labelling, and apply this knowledge to your products;

o Know the various packaging options available and be able to determine the most appropriate options for your products;

o Know how to design effective labels for your international market;

o Be aware of the international rules and regulations that govern labelling.

The Functions of Packaging

There has always been some kind of packaging. When stone age women picked berries and carried them home to share with her family, she probably wrapped them in leaves to protect them from insects, the sun or the rain.

Every package and each of its components contribute to five basic packaging functions:

Contain the product

• Contain a defined quantity of product (by volume, weight, or count);

• Use the available pack volume efficiently;

• Be tight to prevent escape of the product or ingress of contaminating materials;

• Keep the pack size to a minimum to save cost and to optimize package strength.


Coloured and printed sack for basmati rice, Jordan

Protect the product

• To keep the product in perfect condition until reaching the intended destination or end user;

• Avoid spoilage, breakage, moisture damage, contamination, pilferage and theft.


Blister packs to protect fragile halogen light bulbs


Packages carry information about:

• The product (i.e. what it is, its ingredients);

• mandatory regulatory information, i.e. sell by date, name of manufacturer, nutritional values, etc.


Nutrition information on cereal packets sold in the UK

Facilitate handling and distribution

The package should facilitate safe handling of the product from the time of packing until its receipt by the end user:

• Minimize handling costs throughout the distribution chain;

• Suitable for mechanical handling techniques;

• Satisfy handling requirements related to safety, recycling and disposal.

Position the product and promote sales

Structural and graphic design of package optimised to attract and help sell the package.


Kilimanjaro Tanzanian tea

Types of Packaging

1 The 3 levels of packaging

There are three types of packaging: primary, secondary and tertiary packaging:

• primary packaging (consumer packaging), which directly surrounds the product, such as a bottle for a liquid;

• secondary packaging, which is any collation or grouping package such as a multi-pack; and

• tertiary packaging, i.e. the transport package, like fibreboard case, wood crate or shrink-wrapped pallet.

Appropriate protective packaging ensures that products and goods arrive at their final destination in perfect condition. Point of sale packaging, which may be the consumer package, - generally the primary packaging which contains the product - or the display package, for instance a printed carton box around the primary package, contributes to satisfying customer requirements, enhancing product sales appeal while informing the consumers.

|[pic] |

The 3 levels of packaging

|[pic]Primary Packaging |Laminated box for water bottles |[pic]Shipping carton with |

|Pet Jars for Honey | |secured straps |

Being able to produce a product is not enough for companies to succeed in exporting to international markets. Once a company has manufactured its products, they must be transported to their final destination where they will be sold, consumed, utilized. If the product arrives damaged or spoiled, it will most likely not be sold, financial claims will have to be settled and company reputation will be lost. Thus, appropriate, and cost-effective, protective packaging, must be used so that the company can deliver its products intact at the lowest possible cost.

Packaging does not end here, however. Once a company has successfully transported its products to its final destination, they are often to satisfy the storage, delivery, display or handling needs of the customers. Or they must already be packed in a primary packaging which function is not only to contain the product but also to support the sales of the product and provide all information which the final consumer and legislators requests. Products and goods with higher added value tend to be packed directly for consumers, while low value added commodities are rather shipped in bulk.

2 Primary packaging

1 Primary – Point of sale packaging

Why is primary packaging - point of sale packaging - so important? What are the special requirements for selling to different markets around the world?


Example of honey jars on a retail shelf

Packaging starts with the primary package, that is, the package which is in direct contact with the product to be packed. It can be, for instance, a plastics sachet or a glass jar in the case of food or a transparent or opaque plastic bottle. Its main aim is to contain and protect the product, i.e. to ensure it will not change or get damaged or leak during the transportation from production to consumption.

Primary packages may be placed directly in the display cabinets of the sales outlet and act as a display packaging, as well as inform the consumer (for instance with legally required information) and help the consumer transport the product home and use it.

Furthermore, primary packages act as the “silent salesman”. The type of packaging is chosen and designed according to the expectations for the product considered in the intended market, whether it is a cheap transparent plastic bag for rice or sugar or a cleverly designed plastic bottle for cosmetics with a special closure. The point of sales packaging, whether as individual primary package or primary and secondary package (a display package containing several consumer packs), should promote sales. It communicates in such a way that it attracts the consumer to choose that very product on the shelf.

Companies can spend large sums on packaging in order to draw the attention of their target market to their products. Some products however, such as for instance handicrafts may not need a primary package.

In summary, the objectives of packaging are to ensure that the product is delivered safely to its final destination and to communicate its sales message and all other necessary information about it, to purchasers and to those involved in the distribution.

The market nature of the product needs to be considered when designing its point of sale packaging. Packaging for fast moving consumer goods, will differ from industrial goods supplied in semi bulk, or again from durable goods.


Steel drum

How does your company currently package its products? What are some possible changes that could make your products’ point of sale packaging more suitable to the requirements of your selected international market?

2 The specific case of food packaging

Food packaging is a special case as protecting food is a very sensitive and critical issue. Food packaging may vary significantly, as the preservation of food will depend upon both the type of food and the type of processing which the food has gone through.

Various techniques have been developed to preserve food. All have in common the objective of restricting bacterial growth which is the main reason for food damage and spoiling. Food may be dried, smoked, cured, chilled, pasteurized, sterilized, or preserved in presence of acids, such as in the food preparations involving vinegar.

Generally, bacterial growth which spoils food and leads to food poisoning depends:

i) on the initial bacterial contamination that is the presence of micro organisms within or at the surface of the food; and

ii) on the storage temperature and overall external conditions.

Other conditions may be due to the effect of ultra violet light which enhances degradation mechanisms such as oxidation affecting taste of food. Milk, for example, loses many of its vitamins when exposed to sunlight. Therefore its point of sale packaging should be opaque to protect the product. Many food products, such as cooking oils and cheese, go rancid when they are in contact with oxygen. It is therefore essential to design an airtight container to preserve such goods. If the product is in liquid-form, the container has to be designed to avoid any leakage.

Consequently, the primary package must be chosen in such a way that it insures tightness, and prevents moisture and/or air to penetrate inside the pack.


Mould growth on moist surfaces – oranges

Some fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, need to breathe, besides mechanical protection against shocks and rubbing.

Packaging must preserve the products inherent properties, for instance the taste in case of food, and should not contain substances and materials which could eventually interfere with the packed product. This is the reason why packaging has to be of ‘’food contact approved’’ quality.

Moreover, traceability of packaging is by now a requirement for many developed nations. This is the reason why it is not possible to reuse particularly plastics packaging for food contact as there is no security when it comes to substances and matter which could have been in contact with the empty pack prior to its refilling. For that matter, glass is less critical than plastics which can absorb substances.

Suppliers of food contact approved packs must be in a position to supply compliance certificates.


EU Food approved contact symbol. Source: Regulation 2004/1935/EC, Annex II

Naturally, packaging should comply with the international and national requirements and standards, as stated by the government of the importing country. In case of difficulties in finding such specifications for packaging, you should request the packaging specifications from your customer that is the product importer.

3 Protective – Transport Packaging

How important is protective – transport packaging? How are local protective packaging requirements different from international requirements?

Without secure and appropriate transport packaging, export is at risk. Importers want to receive the products purchased in perfect condition. In order to ensure this, the product must be packed adequately. Supplying to an international market is different from supplying to a local market for a series of reasons. The product is exposed to a lot of handling, so the packaging needs to be especially resistant. The cost of claim can be high, while the tolerance to product damages is just not there. Furthermore, the duration and the transport conditions such as temperature and humidity may be quite harsh. Duration of the transportation might not be under total control either. This may be critical for perishable goods.

The selection of the appropriate packaging implies knowledge of the product characteristics, specifically its fragility, as well as knowledge of the distribution constraints.

The choice of packaging materials hence implies:

• Selection of suitable material or combination of materials to give optimum protection. It should be pointed out that packaging whether primary of secondary or even tertiary implies having adequate machinery in order to manufacture the package on site;

• Suitability of the packaging materials for the target market;

• Securing the knowledge i.e. information on availability of suitable materials and suppliers;

• Understanding of cost effectiveness: prices, lead time, quality, and storage conditions for the considered packaging materials.

Materials such as newsprint, wood chips, straw, or shredded paper should not be used as bedding. These materials harbour vermin, bacteria, disease and other unacceptable micro-organisms. Most developed countries will not allow entry to packages containing this type of packaging material.

It is the outer-most container that will provide protection to the packed products. The outer pack must be resistant to theft and rough handling by transporters. Packing may take the form of wooden cases or crates, metal boxes, drums and bales, corrugated cardboard boxes alone or on pallet, with straps or with shrink or stretch films, bags made from synthetic fibre or plastic sheeting, etc.


Cardboard boxes strapped and palletised with shrink shroud.

1 Packing Products for Export

What packing factors should my company consider when exporting its goods to foreign markets?

There are many factors to consider when packing products for export. The most important of these are:

1. Nature of the goods / products:

Are they perishable, fragile, heavy, hazardous or robust?

Example: fruits and vegetables are perishable; chemicals are hazardous; furniture, pottery and many forms of artwork may be fragile.

2. Mode of transport:

Will the product be transported by road, rail, sea, air, or multi-modal (a combination of modes)? How will these products be handled? What specific considerations must be given to each mode of transport?

3. Customers’ specific requirements:

Are there any special requirements or requests made by the customer?

Example: does the customer require the cargo be shrink wrapped and palletised for ease of handling?

4. Prevailing regulations:

Do you know the specific laws or regulations specific to packaging? How will this affect your packaging?

For example, the European Union has very specific regulations about packaging material being recyclable.


Symbols used to identify plastics for sorting and recycling.


Green Dot.

The “Green Dot” symbol means that the “producer” (supplier of packed goods) has paid the fee to the relevant national contracting company, such as Eco-Emballages in France or Dual System Deutschland in Germany.

5. Storage of product:

Does your product need to be stored in a specific way en route or once it has reached the importer? How is it likely to be stored?

Examples: ice cream must be kept frozen; fruit and vegetables should be kept in an environment where temperature and humidity or even atmospheric gases are regulated.

6. Available technologies and materials:

What types of packing materials are available to you? What technologies are there to assist in the packing process? Should it be primary packaging such as heat sealed pouch or protective packaging such as shrink wrapping or strapping?

Example: packing materials such as bubble foam might not be available in your country, so an alternative should be found. Do you have access to machines that can shrink wrap your goods?

|[pic] | |[pic] |

|Vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) | |Strapping machine |

The importer should supply you with packaging specifications on how the products should be packed for shipment. Remember to keep record of these specifications and include them in your price quotation.

What packing factors should your Company consider when exporting its goods to foreign markets? Consider the 6 factors mentioned and apply them to your products. How could these factors affect your company’s export activities?

2 Weight and Dimension

The ability to calculate your product’s shipment size can increase your company’s efficiency and lower your costs.

Pack sizes and dimensions are two points to be considered at early stage of the packaging design process. The important element is to minimize space occupied, reduce material costs and avoid wastage. Each secondary and tertiary package should be dimensioned in the same way. Pack dimensions should conform to a modular pattern base.

Planning for package handling using standard pack dimensions, unitized loads and pallets (600 x 400 mm fits most pallet sizes) and clear pictorial markings on transport packages is a prerequisite. It is important to establish how many items can fit into a pack (cardboard box, drum etc), as well as the weight and dimension of the final pack.

Main markings for transport packages as defined in the international standard ISO 780:1997[1]

Source: ISO

This is important because the freight forwarder would then be in a position to quote the freight amount on this final pack. If you were going to dispatch your products in a 6 or 12 metre container by sea, prior to the loading of the container you would need to establish how many packs you would fit into the chosen container. This will ensure optimized transportation costs and reduce potential product damage.

The exercise below will help you establish (on paper) how many packages would fit into a 6 metre/20 ft container.


Shipping containers


3 Types of Cushion Packaging

The first step in designing a protective packaging solution is the selection of a cushioning material that is appropriate for the application. For instance handicrafts require protection predominantly against superficial damage, e.g. scratches. A common cause of scratches is direct wrapping in ordinary paper or paperboard. Thus their use as the first layer of packaging should be avoided. More suitable for direct contact are such materials as soft tissue paper, textile tissue, or soft plastic such as polyethylene.

Handicrafts require protection predominantly against structural damage caused by mechanical shocks. Protection against mechanical shocks can be provided by the use of cushioning materials such as bubble film, foam plastics, corrugated board, etc.

Prevention of movement of the item within the pack during transport and handling is essential if damage to the fragile product is to be avoided. To achieve this, specially designed inserts in the pack are used.

These can be made of thermoformed plastic or of cardboard. Many options are possible depending upon fragility of products to be packed, shocks and vibrations upon which product is subjected, value of product packed.

Today, effective and inexpensive packaging materials are designed to absorb the shock induced by in-transit handling, protect exterior surfaces from abrasion, and fill voids in packing.

Ideally a step by step approach is required, determining product fragility, conditions for the handling and transportation environment the product will face and establish the amount of shock the product may encounter (“drop height”), leading to cushion requirements. Simulation and real life shipment tests are highly recommended to assess the constraints and performance requirements.

Wrapping is different from filling void in a pack.

Wrapping allow surface protection and some padding - scratch and bruise protection, little impact protection. Filling void in a pack avoids motion and reduces potential damage.

Paper padding is easy. Any product is easy to package with paper cushions. Different paper thicknesses and sizes ensure tailored protection for any requirements.


Examples of paper padding Source ITC

Two layer corrugated board can also be used


Example of two layer corrugated board being used to protect cut flowers Source ITC

Loose fill cushioning material is offered in a wide range of product specifications to choose from, EPS (expandable polystyrene) or vegetable starch in various grades, shapes and densities. Loose fill can be used anywhere, is resistant to changes in temperature, absolutely water resistant and immune to bacteria and germs. It is cost effective, with unlimited storage life, low density for reduced transportation costs and environmentally acceptable.


Loose fill cushioning material Source ITC

Foam netting is a hybrid protection which can cope with different size of product with same tubing.


Foam netting Source ITC

PE foam packaging sheet offers many advantages over paper and other forms of packaging, such as multi-purpose, excellent cushioning to prevent scratching/bruising of item being packaged. It is supplied in rolls. It is used to prevent bruising of fruit or to wrap technical parts

Air bubble film is basically air bubbles captured between two layers of polyethylene or polypropylene films. It provides cushioning to the products which are wrapped with it.


Bubble film

Air pouch cushion packaging is a continuous strips of pillows for air cushion support.


Air pouch cushion packing Source ITC

In situ produced foam padding brings in situ rigid moulded foam which encloses the product like a shell and adapts itself perfectly. It requires some machinery.

4 Six packaging checks for Export

1. Nature of the goods/products: perishable, heavy, hazardous, robust…

2. Mode of transport: road, rail, sea, air, muti-modal; handling

3. Customers’ specific requirements

4. Prevailing regulations: packaging laws or regulations

5. Storage of products: temperature, humidity, gases, ventilation…

6. Available technologies and materials


Design is the activity of conceiving and realizing packages to achieve two fundamental functionalities of packaging:

• delivering the product to the customer in perfect condition for its intended use and,

• providing both effective sales promotion and all necessary information throughout the distribution chain and to the user.

Two components are to be considered:

• Structural design: the engineering of package structures to meet functional and performance objectives

• Graphic design: the creation of a package appearance that will achieve communication and promotional goals

1 Structural design

Structural design sets out the basic physical requirements of the package, including the:

• selection of the packaging material composition and type,

• type of filling and sealing machinery,

• liaison with converters for the structural specification of the package required.


Vertical form fill and seal

It intends to minimize product damage by immobilizing, cushioning, strengthening, unitizing and palletizing. It protects products from moisture and humidity. Sealing and closing of packages is as important as construction and materials. Poor sealing is the most common reason for package failure. Care is needed in the selection and specification of sealing materials and techniques.

In the picture below, the company did not need to spend a large amount of money on the packaging of their spices. Hand-made natural fibre containers are used in combination with small china containers. The end result is a unique packaging that corresponds to the company’s strategy for this particular selected market segment. The protective packaging is the hand-made natural fibre container.

The primary packaging has several functions: it contains the product, it is decorative and functional, and it can be re-used by the consumer once the spices have been used.

The secondary packaging serves the function of further protection. The positioning is clearly one of a high end product, rather than a commodity item.


Spice packages –Exclusive positioning

Consumers will seldom purchase a consumable item unless they like the package in which it is packed. The individual pack serves as the first point of promotion. If it does not encourage the consumer to buy the product, they will move on to the next item that catches their eye.

2 Graphics design

Point of sale packaging, plays a critical role in this phase since it serves as a marketing tool for the final distribution and sales of the products and goods, particularly in self service stores. Well conceived point of sales packaging is crucial for the inherent qualities of the products and goods to be recognised by the customer. It is not enough to have an outstanding product. Its packaging must be equally suitable for the product to sell.

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Wine packaging turns into a stand to hold the wine |Banana juice – the packaging tells it all |

Consider the following example, illustrated with the photograph:

An African company produces coffee beans for its local market and for export to Europe. For the local, market, coffee beans are packed in a transparent polyethylene bag with a coloured carton label clipped onto the sachet. This is the primary package. The sachets are then collated in a carton and transported to their sales destination. The label on the packaging is not elaborate.

When shipping overseas, however, the company must change its packing strategy in order to protect the coffee beans from damage. Since the coffee must endure a much longer journey to its final destination using various modes of transport, there is a risk that the thin polyethylene bag would not be sufficiently strong; there is also a risk, that the flavour would not be sufficiently preserved and that the product would loose its quality. Therefore, the company has decided to reconsider its primary package and has selected a flexible pack made of high oxygen and aroma barrier laminate. Individual bags are further packed in recyclable cardboard boxes with partitions that will avoid ripping or tearing of the bag. Product data previously put on a separate label have now been printed on the sachet itself giving information such as country of origin, weight, and so on. The identical colour code has been chosen for the different varieties of coffee, thereby reinforcing the brand identity.


Coffee packaging – flexible pouch

Continuing with our example of the coffee company

The company has few competitors on its domestic market and is well known throughout the country. Thus, it puts little effort into packaging to differentiate the product. The coffee beans are sold in clear plastic bags with only the company and product names on the label. This packaging happens to be in line with local customers’ expectations.

When selling internationally, however, the company should consider re-designing its packaging in order to meet the expectations and requirements of the customers of the selected international market. In order to differentiate itself from all the other coffees on offer, to be recognised and build a brand image, the bags would be made with a high quality material that is much thicker and more durable. In addition to the name of the company and product, the label integrated in the film constituting the bag itself can contain information on the product’s country of origin, as well as the recommended coffee brewing technique. The information should be translated into the appropriate language(s).

As we have seen in this example, appropriate labels, whether separately attached to the primary pack or printed on the pack itself, are elements just as important as point of sale packaging and protective packaging. Protective packaging, point of sale packaging, and labels / labelling are three vital elements for successful exports that should be adapted to each selected foreign market in order to satisfy the needs of the various clients, as well as comply with international regulations.

List your current packaging and labelling method. Has your current packaging and labelling been designed with your international target market in mind? What are some possible changes that could make your products’ point of sale packaging more suitable to the requirements of your selected international market?

Labelling, marking, coding

What information should be put on the label and/or on the packaging itself? How does it differ among countries?

Packaging presents all relevant information to the consumer and the end user, through the use of appropriate marking, coding or labelling (graphic design).

Information provided on printed texts or labels in the language of the relevant country, symbols, or internationally recognized coding. For the most part the purpose is to provide information about the product and its user instructions. Relevant areas to cover include identification, storage, shelf time, handling, directions for use, and so on.

Packaging also has to bear all information required to enforce existing regulations relating to the product or to the packaging itself.

Consider the following example: A food company in Cameroon decided to export its cereal-based snack foods to Europe. Since Europe has strict labelling requirements, the company included the snack ingredients on the label. However, the company was not aware and did not point out that there might be traces of peanuts (groundnuts) in their product. Since many consumers have severe allergic reactions to peanuts, this product could be potentially very harmful to certain clients and could therefore put the company at risk of hefty fines for non compliance with mandatory disclosure of information

Labelling is one of the essential components of export packaging. It concerns primary packaging but also, transport packaging. In many countries, Customs and Food and Drug authorities, in charge of consumer health and protection have special requirements for labelling. Special schemes such as retail labels, Fair Trade, etc., also have their specific labelling requirements. Proper labelling and coding also allows quicker handling at customs and warehouses and reduces damage to packages. There are strict and tight rules in many countries - particularly for food items – and all information needs to comply.

There are two types of labels (and coding) to consider:

• Labels (and coding) applied to the primary packaging or point of sale / display packaging.

• Labels (and coding) applied to transport packaging (outer cardboard boxes, containers etc)

1 Primary packaging labelling and coding

What are the different functions of labels? What type of information should be included on point of sale labels?

Labelling is used for:

• Easy identification (of all kinds of packages and their contents during handling, transport, and warehousing)

• Informing the consumer (about individual goods, the specification of the goods, date of validity, quantity, hazardous nature of the product, etc.)

• Providing proper product identification and information to product users

• Informing the users on correct use of the product.

A packaging label (point of sale) should contain the following:

• Name of product

• Quantity: Weight or Volume

• Date of manufacture

• Validity, or best before dates

• Compliance with safety and environmental regulations (e.g. recyclable material compliance)

• Ingredients (including European Union ingredient and artificial colorant registration numbers)

• Nutritional facts for food products

• Copyright (if applicable)

• Name and address of manufacturer; Country of origin

• Be in more than one international language (if applicable)

• In most cases, also include an identification device for easy read/scan, e.g. bar codes

|Best before dates |List of ingredients and |Name and address of manufacturer |

| |nutritional facts | |

|[pic] |[pic] |[pic] |


International laws regulate the contents of labels on individual packages.

Exporters should pay extra care to these issues and obtain information on such laws and regulations prior to printing the labels and dispatching the goods. Another important issue to consider is local culture and preference. In some countries local consumers prefer certain colours to others. For example, in the Far East, the colour white is the colour of mourning. Language barriers should also be taken into consideration. Mispronunciation of some words may sound wrong, contradictory or even have impolite connotations in different languages.

Other types of marking exist such as the “CE” marking, attesting conformity with essential requirements, the “e” symbol, which may be applied to packages by pre-packers in Europe, whereby the producer or importer certifies that the products packed conform to legal weights and measures and have been inspected by an authorised EU body.


CE marketing Source :ITC

Consider your products. List all the elements that are included on their point of sale packaging labels. Is there any other information that should be included for export?

2 Transport packaging labelling and coding

A protective / transport packaging label must:

• Show the physical address of the exporter/shipper and contact details

• Show the physical address of the importer/consignee and contact details

• Be easily understood (preferably in the language of the importing country)

• Indicate the country or origin

• Show the shipping marks

• Be in compliance with shipping regulations, such as the International Maritime Organisation

• Indicate safety regulations (including environmental requirements)

• Include cautionary and handling marks (do not drop, fragile, keep dry etc.). Pictorial symbols are best

• Display the departure point

• Display the arrival point

• Indicate any transit points

• Indicate the box’s number within a shipment of multiple boxes. For example: 38/100 boxes, indicating that this is box 38 of a shipment of 100 boxes

• Indicate weight: gross, and net mass

• Indicate dimensions of the package

• Demonstrate the number of items within the package

• Include the correct weights and measurements of the importing country

• Show the order, L/C, import license numbers

• Eventually bar coding references as requested by the importer for ease of reading and storage handling may be applied onto the carton or even pallet load.

Examples of international pictorial cautionary labels Source:

3 Designing the Label

What factors should I consider when designing a label for my product?

The most important factors for any label are that they should be:

• Durable.

• Explanatory

• Visible

• Informative

• Legible

All labels should clearly be visible. Preferably, they should be placed on two sides and on the top of the outer package and/or bulk holder. Markings should be made with waterproof inks. Materials used for labels should be chosen among the materials that would be most suited for the transport, handling and storage conditions to which the packaging will be exposed.


4 Labelling materials

Labels to be fixed onto packages may be chosen among several materials, such as:

• Paper

• Plastic foil

• Aluminium foil

• Embossed tin/aluminium plate

• Direct printing onto packages

Using the D-E-V-I-L factors for labelling cited above, consider your products. How might these factors affect your labels for export products?

Does your company currently put labels on protective / transport packaging for its goods? What types of information would you have to include when exporting?

Health, safety and environmental concerns

1 Market requirements

The European Parliament, as well as Parliaments of other developed nations, has elaborated Directives which concern consumer protection, environment and fair competitive practices.

Laws and regulations in target markets may differ. The European Union has specific requirements for products entering its community. These requirements are usually stated through material specifications and performance requirements. These regulations are then written into government Directives and Laws such as the Packaging Directive. Companies wishing to enter these markets have to comply with these regulations. Information on the European Union packaging requirements can be obtained from your country’s economic representatives based in Europe. You can also visit the following EU website: .

Several Directives concern food hygiene, food contact materials, traceability for food products as well as packaging materials, in case of product recall.

Migration of packaging components toward the food product is severely regulated in most countries. Harmonisation has taken place in Europe. Substances should not migrate toward the food because of sanitary risks or changes in the food composition or degradation of the organoleptic properties.

When it comes to environmental issues, the European Union is requesting that packaging be recycled at the end of its useful life. Collection schemes have been put in place and financed through mechanisms.

Where appropriate, packaging may also bear information required to enforce existing regulations relating to the product or to the packaging itself.

‘’Green” or eco- packaging is becoming a matter of reference reinforced by life-cycle analysis and assessment. Yet environmental declarations and claims to gain a market advantage and to attract consumer attention have to be substantiated.

2 Environmental concerns

The natural environment is both the source of raw materials and the waste sink for all production processes. If we wish to continually improve our business, we need to pay attention to the very support system that makes economic activities possible. The packaging industry has been pro-active in this regard for many years and has already done a great deal using the 4 R’s. These are:

• Reduce

• Re-use

• Recycle

• Recover

1 Reduce

This is aimed at reducing the amount of packaging being used and thus lowering costs for energy to produce and the ‘load’ on the environment once the packaging has come to end of its usefulness.


• The beverage can has reduced to a mass of 33g today versus a mass of 62 grams 40 years ago. i.e. about 62% reduction

• A glass beverage bottle has reduced in weight by 18% over the last 10 years.

• The PET 2 litre cool drink bottle has reduced to a weight of 52g today versus a weight of 90g about 30 years ago. i.e. about 42% reduction

• Detergent refill packs have reduced packaging material by 70%.

Commercial and environmental pressure will force all to continue this process.

2 Re-Use

Ensuring that packaging can be re-used in some way is a matter of correct planning at the design stage. Returnable packaging is used extensively in the beverage sectors worldwide.


In the glass for the malt beer industry and PET bottles for the carbonated beverage industries large amounts of these bottles and their crates are designed to be returnable,

The decision on whether to use one way or returnable packaging is very product dependent and when making the decision one should consider the following factors:

• the complexity of the supply chain – can the empty packaging easily be collected, returned and cleaned?

• the size of the deposit. If the deposit is too low, the consumer may prefer alternative uses for the empty packaging, e.g. crates as furniture. If the deposit is too high, the consumer may choose another product.

• the impact of transport. Both the cost and environmental impact (e.g. emission) of transporting the empty packaging back to the factory.

• the economics of one-way packaging versus returnable packaging including the capital outlay for a sufficient population of returnable packs.

• recyclability of both one-way and returnable packs.

• environment – impact of materials used in cleaning, volume of water and volume and impact of detergents.

3 Recycle

This is the main way in which packaging can be recovered, much of it going directly back into packaging, some into other lower cost products. Many packaging converters recycle their own waste directly back into their products.

All the main packaging materials can be recycled in some way; the major problems include:

• obtaining enough ‘clean’ (uncontaminated) waste to make this process economically viable

• finding a suitable recycled product to make that the consumer will buy

In many cases demand for good quality packaging waste exceeds supply.

4 Recover

Plastics burn more efficiently than coal with some of the major plastics having a calorific value of up to 40% higher than coal.

• the existing technology is in place and extensively used in Europe for energy and heating. This is a sensible use of a valuable resource.

• incineration and conversion of plastic waste back into fuel are two other options.

3 Packaging ideas to help the environment

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Sell product without the packaging |Use biodegradable materials |

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Go “concentrate” |Remove the carton – retail ready packaging |

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Switch packaging format |Take cereals out of the box |

|[pic] |

|Remove the outer plastic film on cartons |

Packaging costs

The total packaging costs include costs of procurement and storage, packaging equipment investment, packaging operations including personnel costs, related transport and distribution costs, and the costs of packaging-related losses and insurance for them. The packaging quality has to be evoked on a long term performance basis.

Lowest cost packaging is not always the most economical overall. First consideration in selecting materials is quality and performance.


Attention must be given to the materials and constructions that enable the packages to perform as required. It must be borne in mind at the outset, however, that the packaging designer does not have a free hand when it comes to re-inventing the structure of packages. Packaging manufacture is normally a mass-production process and, depending on the material and processes concerned, seldom allows much flexibility in structural design.

1 Paper and board

Paper-based packaging for retail applications

Packaging based on paper and board materials represents, by volume, at least half of all the packaging used in most countries around the world. In retail packaging applications, paper-based materials are mainly used as wrappings, as inserts for other packaging, as outer wraps, as folding cartons, and as micro-corrugated fibreboard boxes.

Advantages of paper and board packaging:

• Economical to printed and decorated in a variety of ways,

• in general, a suitable physical strength specification can be provided, at acceptable cost for most applications;

• can be treated to improve their physical and barrier properties, e.g.they can be coated with plastics or wax, to enhance their moisture resistance, and treated with grease-resistant or anti-corrosion agents to protect particular products;

• can be constructed in a variety of ingenious ways to provide strength, easy erection, filling, closing and opening means;

• inherently recyclable and made from renewable resources,

Drawbacks of paper and board packaging:

• paper is highly moisture sensitive and its physical properties are reduced in proportion to its humidity level. It is therefore unsuitable for liquid packaging except when laminated on both sides with a moisture barrier material;

• unsuitable for heat-processed products;

• many of the most successful ones are linked to proprietary converting and filling systems that are only available under license.

Corrugated fibreboard

Corrugated fibreboard is the most widely used material for the manufacture of transport packaging. It is made up from layers of high-strength paper, the outer or facing layers normally of 100% virgin fibre ‘Kraft’ paper, inner layers containing a proportion of recycled or lower-grade paper.


Corrugated fibreboard is a structure consisting of arches and columns.

In the horizontal plane, the fluting medium forms a continuous series of upright and inverted arches


Structure of corrugated fibreboard

Classification of corrugated board

• Single faced Kraft (SFK) consists of one layer of fluting and one layer of liner and is used for:

- Padding inside boxes

- Partitions

- Wrapping uneven objects

• Single wall board consists of one layer of fluting and two layers of liners

• Double wall board consists of two layers of fluting and three layers of liners, different profiles of flute may be combined.

• Triple wall board (heavy duty) consists of three layers of fluting and four layers of liners. Not used very often. Double wall and single wall board hand-laminated together.


Liners are:

• Chosen for structural strength

• Chosen for decorative purposes

• Can be laminated (in specific plants)

• Can have after-treatments

Profiles of flutes

Profiles are defined by:

- Height or calliper of flutes

- Number of flutes per linear metre



- Very fine flute

- Used in cartons which are primary packs for direct merchandising (e.g. Appliances)

- Used in bag-in-box wine cartons

- Usually used with preprinted laminated liner


- Highest crush resistance and lowest shock absorbance

- Even finer than e-flute

- In hot food containers it insulates better than solid fibreboard

Advantages and drawbacks of corrugated fibreboard

Corrugated fibreboard is a uniquely successful material for transport packaging purposes. Its advantages can be summarized as follows:

• Because of its columnar construction, corrugated board provides an exceptional combination of structural strength and relatively light weight and volume by comparison with, for example, wood. It therefore offers distribution economies in terms of reduced weight and space occupied;

• its double, or triple, wall structure provides some degree of cushioning and insulation to container contents;

• as container blanks are cut from large sheets or rolls, there is considerable flexibility in terms of dimensions and construction (however, handling and transport requirements normally necessitate that containers are rectangular and conform to dimensional modules that fit efficiently on pallets, etc.);

• like other paper products, it is inherently recyclable and produced from a sustainable resource. Also like other paper products, its properties decline with increases in recycled content;

• the introduction of E and F flute boards greatly extends the applications of corrugated board in the retail packaging sector.

Drawbacks of corrugated board include:

• Like other paper products, board is highly moisture sensitive unless coated or impregnated with moisture-resistant agents. Its physical properties drop in inverse proportion to the rise in its moisture content;

• the compressive strength of a corrugated board container is much greater in the direction of the flutes than at right-angles to them; this means that flute directions play a crucial role in box design;

• corrugated board strength is directly related to its thickness, so any reduction of thickness due to pressure during printing operations, for example, reduces its strength;

• because of the limitations on the size and capacity of corrugated board containers, they are faced with competition from bulk bags and bins and from shrink- and stretch-wrapped pallet loads;

• the decorative potential of corrugated board is limited because of the difficulties involved in printing on thick sheets.

2 Plastics

The packaging plastics most widely used in film and laminate form at present are the polyethylenes, polypropylene and polyester. PVC films are also still used for certain wrapping and sleeving applications, but they are losing ground because of safety and environmental concerns. Other, more costly polymers such as nylon may be specified to meet high-performance film requirements, often in combination with or laminated to a lower-cost support material.

The plastics used for packaging are:

▪ Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE or polythene)

▪ High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

▪ Polypropylene (PP)

▪ Polyester (PET)

▪ Polyamide (nylon)

▪ Polystyrene (PS)

▪ Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

▪ Polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC)

▪ Ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH or EVAL)

1 Plastics for Films and Containers

Plastics represent the largest and most varied sector of the packaging industry, both from the standpoint of material properties and of their applications. This sector is also the fastest-growing, with new polymers and adaptations of existing ones continually entering the market and competing with other plastics and with materials such as glass and metal.

Rigid and semi-rigid plastics, whether thermoformed or moulded, offer great opportunities for original structural design. Features such as simple but robust plastic hinges, tear strips and spring closures have transformed the way retail packages are opened and closed. With the notable exception of the stand-up pouch, however, plastic films, and the laminates with other materials produced from them, present fewer structural design possibilities than do rigid and semi-rigid plastic containers.

The table below compares the properties of plastics most used for packaging applications, and their individual properties are detailed afterwards:


When planning to use plastics in film and laminate applications, it is important to consider the yield of the plastic material. This is defined as the area of plastic film, which can be obtained from unit weight of the plastic concerned, and is measured in m2/kg or sq. inches/lb. Plastic films are often sold by weight, and for the package planner it is important to know how many bags or wraps can be produced from a given weight of film.

The thickness of the film used is also important from the performance standpoint and influences the yield. Thickness of plastic films is expressed in microns (µ), equal to 0.001 mm. In the United States, film thickness is expressed as its gauge (or gage), which is equal to 0.00001 inch or 0.254 microns. It is desirable to make sure by testing that the film selected can meet the performance needs of the application.

The packaging plastics most widely used in film and laminate form at present are polyethylene, polypropylene and polyester.


Films have many food packaging applications such as wrapping, bags, and component of laminates.

The polyethylenes used for films and laminates fall into two main categories, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) film. The properties and relative advantages of each of the main types of plastic film are reviewed in the following paragraphs.

Low-Density Polyethylene Film

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film is used for making plastic bags or sleeves and for wrapping a wide range of articles. Its advantages are its good moisture protection, heat sealability, relatively low price and ready availability. While LDPE film is never totally clear, it is transparent and products can easily be seen through it. It has a smooth, soft surface, and is tear-resistant. With appropriate additives it can tolerate temperatures from approximately -70°C to + 70°C. Because of its soft and smooth surface, LDPE film can be used as a wrap to protect polished surfaces from scratching.

For products which need only protection against moisture and dirt and not mechanical protection, a LDPE bag will often provide a sufficient retail pack. Such products include most textiles, garments and leather products, for example T-shirts, tablecloths, napkins and leather handbags. The bags can be printed or unprinted; as LDPE is transparent, the sales information can also be provided on a paper label placed inside it. PE bags are often used as an inner moisture protection barrier for articles packed in rigid, but permeable, boxes for mechanical protection.

LDPE is widely used for shrink-wrapping of single articles, groups of articles or groups of packages.

LDPE film is also used for stretch-wrapping,

A derivative of LDPE, linear low-density polyethylene, (LLDPE) has now replaced LDPE in many film applications, mainly on price/performance grounds - for a given weight and thickness, its tensile strength is significantly greater; its properties are otherwise very similar to those of LDPE.

|[pic] |[pic] |[pic] |

|LDPE bag, peanuts |LDPE supermarket shopping bag, Tanzania |LDPE bag, herbs, Dominican Republic|

|Examples of LDPE printed bags | | |

High-Density Polyethylene, HDPE

High-Density Polyethylene Film

High-density polyethylene (PE-HD), while widely employed for container production, is also used for making retail bags and wraps for foodstuffs. It has similar properties to those of LDPE, except that it has better resistance to moisture and fats than LDPE and is rather more expensive. It can support higher temperatures than LDPE, as it plasticizes at a higher temperature. This in turn makes it more difficult to heat-seal. PE-HD is less transparent than LDPE, it has a translucent, “milky” look. It is also stiffer and stronger than LDPE, and has folding and creasing characteristics somewhat like those of paper.


Polypropylene (PP) film has greater tensile strength than the PE films. It is heat sealable and has better moisture barrier properties than LDPE. PP film is very clear, and for this reason bags made of it, printed or unprinted, are widely used for consumer packaging of textiles and garments (such as dress shirts or underwear), which are sold to the consumer in their packages. It is, however, generally slightly more expensive than the polyethylenes; like them it is fully recyclable.


Glycol modified polyethylene terephthalate PETG is a material which can be manufactured in very thin films by bi-orientation. It is very dimensionally stable, has temperature resisting properties, and is very clear. Polyester films have great tear strength and are impermeable to oils and fats.


Polystyrene films are gas permeable; this includes a water-vapor transfer coefficient that prevents rapid drying out of the wrapped articles. As a result they are appropriate for products that breathe, such as freshly gathered produce. Bi-oriented polystyrene films are stronger and keep their transparency. Yet the initiated tear resistance is low. There are also thicker films made from polystyrene foam, which have useful shock absorbing and insulating properties. Twist wrapping is another application.


Although polyamides (trade names such as Nylon® and Rilsan®) are more costly than polyolefin materials, they have properties that make them suitable for some uses. They are chemically inert, tear-resistant, crease-resistant, flexible at low temperatures. They have interesting oxygen barrier properties when compared with for instance polyethylene. They are mostly to be found as inner layer in co-extruded films applications where they are combined with polyolefins present as outer skins, but can be used also as bi-oriented films for lamination applications.

Polyvinyl chloride

By virtue of their chemical stability, especially in relation to greases, and their relative impermeability to oxygen and water vapor, polyvinyl chloride films and sheets, both plasticized and unplasticized, have many uses in barrier applications, but more when considered in thicker applications such as calendered sheets.

Polyvinylidene chloride

Polyvinylidene chloride (trade name Saran®) is a widely used material, especially in the form of its copolymer with vinyl chloride. This is a good barrier to water vapor and to gases. It is produced in a special bi oriented bubble blown process. As a resin, it is used in combination with other resins in multiplayer applications, would it be films or sheets.


This resin is a very performing barrier material, particularly when protected from humidity. It is essentially combined with other resins in multi-layer applications.

Lastly, attention is drawn to water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol films. Although only a brief list of plastic films has been given, it indicates the variety of films that may be produced by the combinations of materials considered in the section on laminates.

Plastic Containers

Plastic bottles, jars, drums and jerry-cans are nowadays used for an enormous range of products, from foods, drinks and toiletries, to industrial chemicals and motor oils. Their applications range from tiny phials for retail packaging of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, to heavy transport packaging in the form of drums and pallet bins. In many of these product categories they have displaced glass, metal or paperboard packages because superior performance, lower cost or both. In addition, much of the traditional glass and metal packaging now uses plastic closures, seals and other fitments.

The main types of polymer currently used for container-making are much the same as those used for films, namely the polyethylenes, polypropylene, polyethylene terepthalate (PET), polystyrene and PVC. Their relative properties from the packaging performance standpoint are summarized in table 1. Each of the materials comes in a variety of grades, so that any general performance comparison is an approximation.

Because thermoplastics are, by definition, softened (plasticized) by heating, they can then be extruded and shaped in a variety of ways and into very intricate shapes. This gives the designer in plastics good opportunities for creating unique packaging structures. The majority of plastic containers are converted from their base polymers by one of three well-established heat-based processes, namely thermoforming, blow moulding and injection moulding, which plasticize the polymer in order to form it.

In addition, rigid plastic films can be fabricated into boxes and other structures by techniques similar to those used for paperboard.

Sheet making and thermoforming

The main plastics used for thermoforming are polystyrene and PVC, but all the principal polymers are thermoformable.

Examples of thermoformed plastic packs

|[pic] |[pic] |

|PS insert for biscuit tin |Thermoformed PVC blister packs for light bulbs |

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|Clear, labelled hinge-lid PS punnet for fresh fruits (Chile) |Thermoformed soup tub |

Blow moulding

Blow moulding in its basic form is a simple process. A hollow tube of plastic, known as a parison, is extruded into a mould, cut off and trapped at each end, air is then blown into it, causing the hot plastic to expand and conform to the mould profile.

Blow-moulded containers are normally made from the polyethylenes, from PP and, less frequently nowadays, from PVC. The choice depends on the product and the application. The same materials are used for injection-blow moulding, but the main application of this technique is for precision manufacture of PET beverage and pharmaceutical containers.

Examples of blow-moulded plastic packaging

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Screen printed HDPE jug for maple syrup |Labelled HDPE sprinkler packs for spices (Kenya) |

| |[pic] |

|[pic] |Labelled PET jars (Injection-blow moulded) for honey (Kenya) |

|HDPE handled jerry-cans | |

Injection moulding

This plastics technology is the most costly but also the most versatile for creating original structural designs in packaging.

The principal materials used for injection-moulded packaging today are the polyethylenes, PP and PET. All are easily moulded and the choice depends on compatibility with the product, adequacy of physical properties, and cost. PP is particularly favoured as it can be moulded in extremely thin sections and so uses the minimum quantity of raw material. It is also extremely resilient, and this property has led to the development of the almost unbreakable PP hinges often used on injection-moulded caps and closures.

Injection-moulded containers in the form of tubs, dishes and trays are widely used for the retail packaging of food products. Cases for CDs, DVDs, and video and music cassettes are all injection moulded. In addition, the majority of closure and cap designs are injection moulded.

Examples of injection moulded packaging

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Printed PP pot for honey |In mould labelled PP tub |

|[pic] |

|PP pots with detachable labels to allow separation of materials (for recycling purposes) |

Fabricated plastic containers

Clear and opaque plastic containers can be fabricated from sheet PVC, cellulose acetate (CA) and polystyrene (PS). These packs are generally manufactured by converters who and deliver them to the packer either readymade, and knocked-down, or as flat, cut blanks, which the packer erects and glues together. The container blanks can be pre-printed by most of the conventional printing methods, but screen printing is often the most appropriate technique for maximum impact on a clear package.

Fabricated plastic boxes


Bottle making

The main plastic resins used for making bottles are PET, high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and PVC.

Such bottles, widely used in the food industry, must be compatible with their contents and contain no harmful components which could be extracted from the material and alter the taste.

Foamed plastics, articles or sheets

Expanded plastics, also known as “foam plastics” or “cellular plastics”, are well known for their lightness and their heat-and sound-insulating properties, as well as for their impact resistance and crush resistance. They are used primarily in the frozen and chilled food industry.

Lamination and coatings

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between laminates and coatings because their uses and the manufacturing techniques are somewhat similar, and sometime complementary.

In lamination, different pre-existing films are made to adhere together.

In coating the support is covered with a solution, dispersion, or polymer layer, which may be acting as outer protective layer, as is the case with polyethylene coating on paper, or as a glue layer in between two outer layers.

3 Metal cans

There are two metals, steel and aluminium, which play major roles in the packaging industry. Steel is the basic material in food cans and metal closures, while aluminium is widely used for beverage containers, as shallow drawn cups and trays, as extruded tubes and in the form of foil. While steel and aluminium compete in applications such as beverage cans, they are also used in combination when, for example, aluminium easy-open ends are applied to tinplate or fibreboard can bodies.

Advantages and drawbacks of metal packaging

As metallic packaging takes so many forms, and is used in so many different applications, only general advantages and drawbacks can be identified, as follows:

• Impermeability; with the exception of possible pin-holing in thin aluminium foils, metal packaging is completely impermeable to all gases and liquids;

• opacity; for many light-sensitive products, the complete opacity of metal packaging represents an important advantage;

• suitability for heat processing; the resistance to high temperature and pressure, and the excellent heat conductivity of metals make them especially well suited for containing foods which are heat processed and sterilized after the pack is sealed;

• recyclability; both aluminium and steel are fully recyclable for re-use, even as food containers. The high value of aluminium justifies effective recovery methods, while the magnetic properties of steel facilitate its recovery from the waste stream;

• excellent decorative potential; both steel and aluminium can be provided with bright silver, mirror-clear finishes. They can be superbly printed, when in flat sheet or coil form, using offset lithography; and almost as well in the round. Sculpted effects are also achievable by embossing;

• high tensile strength and rigidity, allowing them to be formed into containers that withstand both compressive stresses and the internal and external pressures associated with heat processing.

Drawbacks that apply to most forms of metal packaging include:

• Vulnerability to corrosion; steel is readily corroded, and must be protected, both inside and outside, by other metals such as tin and/or by impermeable enamels or varnishes; aluminium is also corrodible, though less rapidly and with less damaging effects;

• limited choice of container shapes and sizes; non-cylindrical and non-linear profiles can only be produced slowly and at high cost;

• metal containers cannot generally be reused because they cannot be cleaned effectively;

• recycling of metal containers is a costly, and energy-intensive process (though, in the case of aluminium, much less energy intensive than producing the material from its ore).

• both aluminium and steel containers face strong price competition from plastics for all applications except those requiring high temperature processing;

• aluminium foil is relatively costly compared with plastic films, and metallized films are replacing foils in all but the most demanding applications.

Open top (three-piece) cans

A cylindrical can with bottom end (manufacturer’s end) affixed for filling through the open end with subsequent application of the top end (filler’s end). It is particularly associated with processed foods.

The side seam is welded rather than soldered.


Open top can

The double seam

The curl on the can end containing sealing compound and the flange on the can body are indexed and rolled flat, forming five folds of metal.

Sealing compound between folds gives an air tight seal.

4 Glass

Advantages and drawbacks of glass packaging

The principal advantages of glass packaging can be summarized as follows:

• Exceptionally high transparency;

• chemical inertness – resistant to almost all commonly used liquid products and acceptable for all food contact applications;

• total impermeability to gases and liquids;

• easily sterilized by heating, for use with foodstuffs and other products requiring sterile packaging;

• generally good resistance to internal pressure and compressive loads;

• easily and effectively cleaned for refilling and re-use, even for food products;

• fully recyclable into new glass containers, provided complete separation of the different glass colours can be achieved;

• excellent quality image, thanks to long-standing association with quality products.

|[pic] |[pic] |

|A range of coloured glass containers |Packed glass jars |

Glass has well known and well understood drawbacks including:

• Poor shock and impact resistance;

• poor resistance to rapid changes of temperature;

• relatively high weight per unit volume of product contained;

• weight and fragility of glass incur relatively high transportation costs;

• high energy costs incurred both in initial manufacture and in recycling used glass

5 Wood Packaging

Wooden boxes and crates remain important for export packaging of heavy goods and as tailor-made packages for products needing special protection against transport hazards, even though corrugated board has taken over many of their past applications.

Advantages and drawbacks of wood for transport packaging


• Wood is a natural product and the wood used for packaging purposes is often being sustainably grown;

• wood is perceived as environmentally acceptable by many consumers, and wood produce trays of, for example, oranges from Morocco and Spain, may be preferred over fibreboard ones;

• the variety of woods available for packaging purposes means that a species with appropriate properties is available for most applications;

• wood is readily and cheaply available in some developing counties and, as wood packaging can be constructed by hand methods, does not incur large conversion costs or expenditure on equipment.

|[pic] |[pic] |

|Robust nature of wood makes it very suitable for carry large heavy |Wood can be used as an attractive primary pack |

|products | |


• Use of wood packaging for exports is restricted by regulations relating to the disease risks posed by wood products;

• wood is a relatively heavy packaging material, and corrugated board offers a better price/performance ratio, from both the material cost and weight standpoints, for all but the heaviest duty applications;

• wood, being an entirely natural material, shows wide variations in quality and performance;

• declining use of wood packaging and problems of disposal have reduced its popularity as a packaging material in many industrialized countries.


Packaging plays a multi functional role for your products:

• Economical

• Protect

• Preserve

• Identify

• Convenience



[1] The symbols and extracts above are taken from ISO 780:1997 and have been reproduced with the permission of the International Organization for Standardization, ISO. This standard can be obtained from any member body or directly from the Central Secretariat, ISO, Case postal 56, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland. Copyright remains with ISO




Container calculation

STEP ONE. Measure your packed product along the length, width, and height in metres (the outer pack e.g. a cardboard box, shrink wrapped and palletised).


Length Width Height

.950m .450m .235m

STEP TWO. Find out the dimensions of your container.

In this example we are using a 6-metre/20ft container, thus the dimensions are:

Length Width Height

5.876m 2.330m 2.197m

STEP THREE. Divide the length of the package by the length of the container:

5.876m divided by 0.950m = 6.18. Therefore you would be able to fit 6 packages along the length of the container

2.330m divided by 0.450m = 5.17. Therefore you would be able to fit 5 packages along the width of the container

2.197m divided by 0.235m = 9.34. Therefore you would be able to fit 9 packages along the height of the container


Multiply 6 x 5 x 9 = 900. You will fit 900 packages into a 6-metre/20ft container, based on these dimensions.

By turning the contents around you may also gain more space in the container, (bearing in mind that certain products such as bottles can only be stacked upright). You also need to take the weight of the product into account: for a 6-metre container, you can only safely load 18 tons. A 12-metre container should not be loaded with more than 27 tons. Your freight forwarder can also assist you in establishing how many items/boxes you can load into a container.


Many producers of various consumer goods, particularly of self-care items such as medicines, are obliged to put explanatory information on their products to provide identification and information to customers about the product they are about to purchase.

Language barriers exist even between countries that speak the same language. For example, many fruits and vegetables in Africa have different names in other parts of the world. The fruit Paw-paw is known as Papaya in North America; groundnuts are known as peanuts in Europe. Make sure that you do proper research of your international markets’ vocabulary.

When designing and placing the labels, a company should keep the following in mind:

- Is the label easy to find on the pack

- Is it easy to read and understand

- Will it last throughout the distribution and product life cycle

- Does it comply with international and destination/customer specific requirements

Exercise – Point of Sale

Using the information above, choose one of your intended export products and do the following exercise:

Look at your existing point of sale packaging.

Is it internationally compliant? (Refer to the listing on point of sale packaging)

Visit websites to see how your product compares to those of international competitors.

What changes do you need to make to your product compliant?

Exercise – Packaging

Using the information above, choose one of your intended export products and do the following exercise:

Look at your existing label on your packaging.

Is it internationally compliant? (Refer to the listing on what a packaging label should contain and the example of the label above)

Make a list of the necessary changes.

Contact your supplier or your Foreign Trade Representative for assistance.


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