Food manufacturers package products with consideration for a number of factors: protection, freshness, containment, serving size, marketability, and FDA compliance. Most food maufacturers will outsource their packaging needs to other companies to complete the multi-step process.

Packaging Materials

The most common packaging materials used by food manufacturers are plastic, aluminum and cardboard.

Plastic is the material of choice for most frozen foods, perishable food items, snack foods like chips and pretzels, and a variety of bakery items.

Aluminum is best for beverages like juices, soft drinks and beer, for canned perishable foods, and some baked goods.

Cardboard packaging is used for both frozen and fresh foods along with dry goods like cereals, mixes and rices.

Custom Display

Plastic, cardboard and aluminum are all customizable to display logos, photos, ingredient lists, nutrition facts, and any other information the manufacturer wishes to convey. While some food types allow for flexibilty in packaging material, the material used is usually determined by the nature of the food itself.


Plastic is a versatile food-packaging material. Often in the form of bags or containers, such as tupperware, plastic is used to hold dry good, frozen foods, snacks and dairy products, such as cheese. In bottle form, plastics are used for drinks, marinades, cooking oils, and condiments. Plastic trays are used for fresh or frozen meats and fish.


Aluminum is a common metal that is: easily made, inexpensive and environment friendly; it’s made of recycled materials and can be recycled over and over. Aluminum food packaging stores food safely for extended periods. It is perfect for storing canned goods, such as meats, vegetables, beans and even fruit It can be used to insulate plastic bags, as well as cover food for refrigeration.


Carboard comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be used to house most food items, including: seasonings, nuts, snack products, candies, cocoa powders, spices, some cooking fats, dairy products, and frozen foods. Cardboard is light in weight, reasonably sturdy, and ecologically favorable; as cardboard is composed of wood pulp, a renewable resource.

Other types of packaging

Wood in the form of barrels, is an old school method of packaging for liquid products like wine, cooking oils, juices, and beer. Flavor compounds from the wood can improve the taste and quality of the product they're containing.

Glass, although being used less frquently nowadays, has advantages over other materials. It is still commonly used for beer, juices, jams, jellies, and pickles.

Paper still finds use as a packaging material for sacks of flour, sugar, and some fruits and vegetables.

About the Author

Garrison Pence

Garrison Pence has been a midwest-based (ghost)writer for three decades, taught university-level literature, and has written articles and white papers in trade publications of the Material Handling Institute, Engineering Today, Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage Science, and Semiconductor. Pence holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Literature.