Why Packaging Exists
The main aims of today’s package are:
- To Protect (what’s inside)
- To Deliver (the goods safely)
- To Inform (provide information about the product)
Packaging is mostly used to deliver food and beverages and more durable goods to factories and offices. And it comes in various shapes, sizes, and materials (paper, plastic, glass, metal, textiles). It also has been around for a long time and is constantly changing.
The first form of packaging, for example, was probably an earthenware jar to carry life-giving water. As those early cave-dwellers roamed further and further afield, however, they needed to carry their food and the goods they wanted to trade over longer and longer distances. Jute sacks and animal skins provided a convenient means of packaging.
Many centuries later, during the industrial revolution, millions of people were forced off the land by the rapid development of machine harvesting of agricultural crops. This massive shift of people off the land and into the major towns and cities of the world meant people were further way from their source of food (the very crops they had been harvesting). How did you get huge quantities of food to them without wasting it? Wooden barrels by stagecoach was one answer.
In Canada, the horse and stagecoach gradually gave way to an extensive rail network. Then came roads and automobiles, which in turn gave way to trucks and specially designed refrigerated vehicles all aimed at protecting and delivering food and other products safely and securely. General purpose cargo vessels became container vessels and the rail and aircraft industries became more sophisticated and efficient in the safe delivery of fresh and uncontaminated products.
Those countries or regions not blessed with the land or proper soils or climate to be self-sufficient in food production found they had to trade other goods in exchange. So packaging distribution systems that were nationally and internationally compatible steadily evolved: the most obvious symbols today being the bulk cargo vessel for grain and oil; the wooden pallet for stacking and storing; and the sturdy, paper-based corrugated box to protect and deliver bulk products to wholesalers and retailers.