Fresh meats, fish, fruits and vegetables release liquids that need to be captured and separated from the product to extend shelf life, ensure safe consumption and present a more appealing product to consumers.
In short, if you or your pet can eat it, then it's a food product. The packaging that it comes in covers a lot of ground: Hanover Research projected that in 2013 the size of the global food packaging market will increase to $251.8 billion and the size of the North American food packaging market will be $54.4 billion. [Food packaging and U.S. food contact paper market]
The food packaging market runs the gamut of packaging materials from glass jars to metal cans to paperboard cartons to rigid polymer trays to flexible bags. Flexible bags are increasingly popular, thanks to their light weight and strength.
Food packaging market drivers include cost savings per individual package, improvements in "shelf presence," branding and better barrier performance.
Consumers also study packaging for sustainability and safety. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a worry to some consumers. Food packaging also is responding to consumer concerns about portion-size and simpler preparation. Single-serve, multi-serve and multi-pack packages respond to changing needs.
Food packaging also includes labeling. A Nutrition Facts label is required on most packaged food in many countries. Labeling a food for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or their absence is a growth area.