Packaging material is often taken for granted and thought to be ‘just’ a part of every purchase or sell we make which does not need much attention. However, we still wish it to be smart, trendy, innovative and protective for the product it is used to pack. Just like everything else, packaging trends keep changing and has evolved a lot over the few decades. Here is a brief account how packaging material has evolved in the years.
In the earlier times, packaging was not like what we see it today. Though the main motive and intention of packaging has always been the same, materials used, technology and methods used for the purpose have changed all over the years and will probably continue over the ages, with the change in technology. With every passing decade, newer innovations and better packaging has ensured better protection and great presentation of the product ultimately packaged.
Development Of Packaging
What Packaging Meant During The Middle Ages or Even Earlier
A lot of research and studies are being done on the system of old packaging and how our ancestors packaged their products. Plenty of vessels in the form of everyday use items have been recovered from many sites which reveal that packaging or storing techniques was unique and often considered to be exquisite piece of art. Packaging materials and products were not just useful; they were often great pieces of innovation and art which awes us even today. Though technical innovation was little, yet every piece of packaging material was exquisite. No wonder our museums today, proudly exhibit some of these best pieces of Art. Ceramic and bamboo utensils and storing jars are probably some of the best pieces of art we can have today.
Packaging during the middle ages was about enclosing products for their protection, for their convenience in transportation, convenient storing purposes and for increasing their shelf life. Science and technology was not known during that time and resources were few. People had access to only nature and things made from natural products which satisfied most of their needs.
It was during this time that natural materials such as leaves from a wide variety of trees, animal skins, and baskets made from woven twigs, branches and leaves were used to package products. Earthen utensils were made for storing purposes and transporting food items from one place to another, though it suffered from many disadvantages and did not always offer optimum protection to products.
Several packaging items in the form of terracotta vessels have already been found from quite a few sites which prove that utensils, bowls or pots made from terracotta served as a packing or storing container for liquids and similar products. This kind of storing material and products were popular for being leak-proof, could be made in a number of sizes and shapes and could be easily transported from one place to another. However, terracotta could be damaged easily and a single knock could actually shatter it into pieces. It is also known that these terracotta vessels were often tied together and attached to bamboos or similar structures and carried on shoulders during travel.
In the Middle ages, wooden barrels were also quite popular and a common way of transporting as well as preserving food. The main advantage of wooden barrels was that these could be used to carry liquids as well as solid food. They were robust, durable and were meant to survive for a longer period of time which was not possible with other packaging material which was commonly used at that time.
Use of Paper as Packaging Material
Though not much is known about the first use of paper as a material for packaging, evidence suggests that it must have been around the year 1035 when paper bags or paper packages were first used as a packaging material. This paper packaging trend was probably started by the Persian travelers who visited markets in and around Cairo. They were actually the spice merchants and vegetable traders who used to package spices and vegetables in paper and carried to far off destinations where they were later sold. Though packaging boxes or cardboard boxes was not known at that time, paper was used in wrapping and covering products and mainly dry products.
Much later, with development of science and technology, the products used during the earlier times were developed and modified for better usage and convenience. Wooden crates as well as boxes were replaced with cartons with served almost the same purpose but were better in design and easy to use. These offered great protection and were comparatively cheaper.
In the next few years there was continued improvement and technological improvements were at its finest. Frozen food packaging was developed further while storing options improved and continues to change as per the latest trends and keeping in mind the needs and preferences of customers.