In the history of food packaging supplies, the type of container used to ship products initially took a back seat to the actual sales of the products themselves. Consideration about the type of shipping container to be used was more of an after thought than a major focus of early manufacturers. Up to the end of the 19th century processors tended to use easy access materials for transporting their goods to market. The types of containers used were mostly made out of wood, cork, and clay. In the 20th century, there was a shift in materials use for food shipment and the bulk of those made were constructed from paper, glass, and metals. In the late 20th Century another evolution occurred as a new material came into the marketplace, Polyethylene Terephthalate or PETE. With the invention of this versatile plastic, a sizable majority of the foods manufactured and distributed to consumers were packaged and shipped in PETE containers. This was due to the fact that Polyethylene was an extremely versatile plastic as it could be molded or stamped into any shape imaginable. It was also extremely inexpensive to produce. However, with increased environmental awareness, consumers began to clamor for more green and eco friendly containment solutions from suppliers. This occurred because it became common knowledge that most plastics used non-renewable resources like petroleum products in their manufacture. As more and more end users became aware of the finite nature of our resources available there has been a continued clamor for newer and more environmentally friendly container products. As a result, the food packaging supplies industry has continued to evolve and grow. |
As requirements based on end user demands have grown, packaging has evolved into not only a method of preservation and storage but also as an informational and communications aid to the end consumer. All food containers now contain detailed information about the contents and quantities of the various components of the foodstuffs inside. This information can include the listing of all the components in the food by their chemical name and the chemical or physical properties relative to their proposed use. Other information includes the caloric content and the percentage of minerals and basic nutritional building blocks, like proteins and fat, which are present. Another major trend in packaging today is the development and use of green and safe products in the packages construction. The development of this new type of material for use in container construction is in direct response to consumer demands for a more eco-friendly footprint by manufacturers worldwide. An example of this is the development of natural cellulose fibers that can be composted or recycled after use. Natural fiber containers have other positive benefits in that they are biodegradable in the presence of heat, moisture, and oxygen and that microorganisms will consume them naturally as a part of their normal diet. These mundane substances can also be readily formed into any shape imaginable. As a consequence, for whatever the use intended be it a cup, plate or straw all can container configurations can be formed out of these biodegradable substances. This new development has been a boon to not only the end consumer but also the food packaging supplies industry.
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