E-commerce boom requires food packaging rethink

Nov 26, 2021 | Barcoding, Labelling & Packaging, Food & Beverage, News

With demand for food deliveries and online grocery shopping having increased rapidly year-on-year, careful consideration of specific packaging requirements is required to safeguard food quality and product integrity, according to a packaging expert.

Statistics show a significant growth in the market size of the Online Food Ordering & Delivery Platforms industry in the UK, for example, which has grown 39.7% per year on average between 2016 and 2021.

With this in mind, Ed Williams, Sales Director at ULMA Packaging UK is encouraging brands across the food sector that are exploring new delivery ventures to carefully consider how they preserve the safety of end consumers.

Specifically, Ed Williams is highlighting the need for grocery suppliers to rethink the specifics of their packaging needs, explaining: “The growth in e-commerce makes food packs more vulnerable to a number of threats to product. This includes taint, which occurs where goods with strong aroma or fragrance are stored or transported alongside other goods. As such, packaging technology selected requires careful consideration to ensure it addresses these specific challenges. In the case of taint, vacuum and protective atmosphere packaging can help to provide a necessary barrier to shield products from contaminants during transit, for example.”

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the rise in food delivery, with online grocery sales jumping 12.4% in October 2021 – up from 12.2% in September 2021. This increase is indicative of a wider trend best demonstrated in the four weeks leading up to 14 June 2020 where UK online grocery sales grew by 91%.

Ed continued: “A key factor driving this demand is convenience. Home food delivery, such as services provided by Deliveroo and Uber Eats, require stiff packaging that can be heated in the microwave and used as plates. Then there’s packaging required for online supermarket orders; this involves reducing air transport, adapting volumes to the secondary packaging of every distributor, and providing labelling solutions that facilitate management with consumers.

“The pandemic has also altered the way hotel and restaurant businesses have worked, with many reorienting their businesses towards e-commerce. It is this growing trend that will require packaging solutions for products which previously didn’t required packing. Engaging with a reputable packaging machinery supplier is key to maintain pack integrity so that goods arrive at their destination not only with guaranteed food safety but perfect in preservation and appearance.”