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Steps to Determining Packaging

Steps to Determining Packaging

In order to determine what packaging should be used, first consider the type of product that you are producing. Are you making snack crackers, cereal, or cookies? It is important to establish what sort of product it will be, and what the regulations are for this particular product.

The plastic tray or bag is referred to as the primary packaging, while the outer box or wrapper is referred to as the secondary packaging. Primary and secondary packaging are both seen by the consumers at their retail provider. When the products are delivered to a store, they are usually packed in bigger boxes (distribution/tertiary packaging). These corrugated boxes are usually packed full to protect the product and to allow ease of handling to and at the store. At plants, these tertiary/distribution packages may be packed on a pallet. The pallet is referred to as the unit load/quaternary package.

The figure demonstrates how this might work with a cookie product that is packed in a plastic tray and has an outer wrapper that was packed in a bigger box.

Demonstration of the levels of packaging for a cookie product.

Steps to determinate packaging

Step 1: Define Food Properties

In order to determine what packaging should be used, first consider the type of product that you are producing. Are you making snack crackers, cereal, or cookies? It is important to establish what sort of product it will be, and what the regulations are for this particular product.

The type of packaging will most likely differ for products with changing flow properties and physical form. If the product is meant to be distributed frozen, how will the packaging be different? Is the product’s shelf-life short? Does the product mold easily? Taking all of the product considerations into play is important to determine the packaging material that is most appropriate. FDA has specific “Definitions of Food Types and Conditions of Use for Food Contact Substances.”

Step 2: Define Package Technical and Functional Requirements

Prior to choosing packaging, it is important to consider all product attributes and the traits that you would like a package to have. Another important consideration is the radius of distribution. A product susceptible to breakage by vibration or drops will incur significantly less damage when distributed in a 100-mile radius than it will with nationwide distribution. The way that individual packages are boxed and palletized can help eliminate some damage.

Step 3. Define Package Marketing and Design Requirements

Packaging is a form of marketing to consumers. More sophisticated designs may take special packaging materials; therefore packaging engineers should be involved in discussing design, shape, and any special functions that are desired for the product. Another important consideration

that is important is the shelf display requirements for grocers. Will the package be displayed by a hanger as some candies are displayed?

Will the product’s package contain any features? Features include easy open bags or resealable packaging. It may also be important to consider the ease of recycling some products, as consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious. The packaging is a marketing tool.

Step 4: Identify Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Legal restrictions can include regulations for the use of certain packaging materials or infringing on patented technologies. All packaging materials are given approval by the FDA, just like food additives. Other

considerations are religious restrictions, such as the kosher packaging stipulations for Jewish customers. Food additives that come into contact with food as part of packaging are considered as Indirect Food Additives.

Step 5: Select Potential Package Design and Materials

Potential designs should meet all marketing, design, safety, and functional requirements. Estimated costs will be considered in this step.

Step 6: Establish Feasibility of Packaging with Equipment and Material

The packaging engineer should obtain some packaging materials to determine whether the packaging material will function on the equipment in place. In these tests, it is beneficial to subject the food to the packaging material to determine how the packaging will change the food, or if it will provide for the minimum shelf-life requirements.

Step 7: Estimate Time and Cost Constraints

Will the cost of this packaging be recouped by product purchases? Can the cost be cut down? Important factors in this phase are to determine when the packaging materials will be needed and when they can be provided. Cost is an important factor in an organization’s decisions.

Step 8: Shelf-Life Testing and Market Testing

In products with extended shelf-life, it will be very important to determine the weaknesses of the packaging, and if it will hold up for the product’s entire life. Consumers' input may be important to establish their preference prior to moving forward with a certain design. The shelf-life and safety of the product should be determined prior to consumer exposure. When the product design is well-accepted by consumers and meets company specifications, the packaging and product can go into full production.


The packaging is a very important factor in food processing that contributes to the shelf-life, quality, and appeal of products. Packaging materials can add or eliminate costs, demonstrate to consumers the quality standard of your product, and renew the product’s image. Packaging, therefore, should be chosen with much contemplation.

Related Articles:

How to Find the Optimal Packaging for Your Product
The packaging is one of the largest cost factors. Developing the optimal combination of pack style and material is a challenge.

Total Cost of Ownership on Packaging Machinery
What is the best way to evaluate different suppliers with low or high price differences?

Biscuit Packaging: Last but not Least
Trends in food packaging. Modern trends impact food and cookies design look. Learn about the packaging of the cookie brand.

Portion Packs – Small but Mighty
Consumers favor smaller convenience packs when snacking on-the-go or saving favorite treats for later

Sustainability and Recyclability of Flexible Materials for Primary Packaging
Plastic packaging yesterday was seen as a friend nowadays is seen as an enemy for its environmental impact.

Packaging biscuits and cookies in a pack is much more than simply conveying product safely and conveniently to the consumer.

Importance of a Good Packaging Design
Good packaging design even sets the expectation for the price point of your product. We make assumptions on a product’s price point.

TechTalks Discussion

Flow wrapper positioning
I am moving premises shortly and want to build the ideal layout for my production and packaging that will also be BRC compliant. In the new premises, if I make a hatch for the flow wrapper, it could deliver the biscuits to the packaging area, but then the production room wouldn't be sealed. If the flow wrapper is in the bagging area, I would be carrying unwrapped biscuits out of the production area for bagging. What is the ideal layout for moving from finished biscuit to bagged biscuit?

Thermoforming packaging materials suppliers
Hello everybody, can someone send me the contacts of the manufacturers of thermoforming plastic packaging materials (blister packaging)? Does anyone have experience with this type of packaging? The problem is to find the right combination of materials that would preserve the quality of the product, and allow easy opening of the product. This type of the packaging should be used in the confectionery industry. In the pictures below you can see the appearance of the packaging. Also, does anyone have experience with plastic free packaging in the confectionery industry?

The product packed in aluminum foil went rancid
Cookies that have sesame and wheat germ are packed in aluminum foil and went rancid in just 3-4 months. any solutions towards this? should I introduce nitrogen packaging or there some technique to treat these ingredients?

Total Cost of Ownership and Net Present Value
I came across the recent article on Total Cost of Ownership on packaging machinery, very interesting article indeed, however, it did not show clearly how you can evaluate between two suppliers which one has the best option given a more complex real-life situation?

Biscuit Packaging Automations
What kind of automation can be done in the biscuit packaging section right from the oven till the end of the line (packaging)?

Regarding the shelflife
But the biscuits are getting soft after a month of packaging. Though its life is 6-8 months. So is there any chemical I can use to increase its shelf life?

Packaging machines for biscuits
Which machines are the best packaging machines for biscuit packaging keeping in view less workers and machine automatization?

Material combination of Flexible laminated films for biscuit packaging
How can we determine the correct material combination of laminates ( Type of the laminates & thickness of the layers) are being supplied by the suppliers?

Eg : 20 micron BOPP + 25 micron MCPP 

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An Instructional Guide

FADI ARAMOUNI, Ph.D. Professor of Food Science

Kansas State University


Food Science, Deschenes Consulting, LLC

Leading image: Teerasak Ladnongkhun/

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