The primary function of packaging today is driven by ever increasing health and safety legislation says the 2003 Consumer Packaging Report, sponsored by Huhtamaki (UK).

The independent market report has been carried out among 700 food processors. The aim was to ascertain their attitudes towards packaging, how it is used and to identify key trends within the market.

Functionality is the number one driver when it comes to food processors deciding which packaging concepts to use, with 40% of respondents claiming that suitability to the filling line, as well as how it serves its purpose, is important. Cost and design aesthetics are a close second and third, respectively.

The report identifies PP as the most commonly used material for packaging today, accounting for 27% of the market.

PP also offers improved barrier properties to increase the shelf life of products. This has been identified in the report as the third greatest concern among food manufacturers after material strength and price.

Three quarters of food processors see packaging innovation as important to their business with 85% claiming it is key to the success of a product as it provides shelf standout and differentiates products from those of their competitors.

This is so vital that 50% of respondents say that they change the external look of their packaging every two years and just 6% never vary it all.

As would be expected food safety is an area that rates highly in the report and one that food manufacturers have tackled through various packaging devices.

The most popular method at the moment is tamper evident seals with 30% of respondents saying that they incorporate them into their packaging.

Almost one quarter – 24% – opted for external shrink-wrapping with integral barrier and foil or film tying in third place. 9% still rely on post-packaging applications to improve food safety.

Of the 30% of respondents that currently use tamper evident seals, 21% have done so in the past 12 months.

With 57% of companies currently not using tamper evidence it is an area of huge potential growth within the consumer goods sector.

Overall, the consumer packaging industry is looking particularly buoyant at present, according to the report, with 65% of companies having experienced an increase in business over the last two years and only 1% noting a decrease.