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The role of effective packaging within the supply chain

packaged meatIt is becoming more and more apparent that the role of packaging in the supply chain is extremely important. The task of keeping products safe and fresh during their journey from farm to fork is a vital one, in order to limit waste. The packaging industry is gaining more support and appreciation for the role that it plays in the broader supply chain. Effective packaging not only serves to protect products through the distribution process, but also benefits consumers after distribution. Here are the top three ways that packaging benefits the overall supply chain.
           1. It reduces product damage or loss during distribution. This limits environmental impacts, because the investment is protected. Recent studies have estimated that about 40% of food produced is never consumed. With all of that wasted food, it is clear to see how the protection of every little bit counts.

           2. It provides a design that facilitates cost effective distribution and storage. Shipping costs are lessoned because of the decreased volume of the products being shipped.

           3. It assists consumers in making purchasing decisions, facilitates storage, and allows for ease of use. Consumers look to the packaging for useful information about the product. They are also able to conveniently store the product once it is purchased.

Efforts to minimize packaging through lightweighting or substituting lower performance materials have been shown to increase product damage. This may initially be done in order to lesson the environmental impact of packaging materials, but it really makes things worse. The amount of food that is lost or damaged due to shortcuts in packaging creates more wasted resources. Optimized packaging falls in line with “life-cycle thinking,” which says that as long as supply chain benefits are increased, the overall impacts are reduced.

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