If you are buying holiday candy or foodstuffs, it is likely to be both packaged and labeled. Packaging protects a product from external contamination, while often also constituting a form of advertising to build brand awareness and identity. Labeling of a product fulfills legal requirements regarding ingredients, nutritional or safety information.
The primary function of labeling is communication–a label informs consumers about the product and any mandated information, such as nutritional content of a food product. Packaging is the wrapping, box or other wrapping material that immediately surrounds the product–a candy bar wrapper would be one example of packaging.
The design of a label is usually simple, as it is designed for clear communication. In the case of nutritional information labeling, some countries designate a certain design or order of information. For example, it is commonly required that ingredients of a cosmetic or food product are listed in order from greatest to least. Labeling is, therefore, quite conformist in its design. Packaging, by contrast, plays a significant role in establishing a product’s brand identity in the eye of the consumer. Therefore, packaging is more typically designed to be visually distinctive.
Different countries place certain legal requirements and restrictions on both labeling and packaging. In the United States, for example, food labels are required to contain information regarding the amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates and calorie values for a standard serving of the food. Packaging requirements exist in most countries for perishable food products such as meat. In certain markets, requirements are in place concerning the ecological impact of packaging and labeling materials.