The packaging industry is composed of two major components, namely, the supply side or providers of packaging products and the demand side or end users. Packaging refers to the technology and material for enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. The packaging manufacturing sub-sector is not so much globalized, with exports ranging only to a quarter of the total market volume.

The packaging service sub-sector is comprised of establishments primarily engaged in the packaging and labelling of client-owned materials (such as food products) usually undertaken on a contract or outsource basis. It is important to note that this sub-sector does not include manufacturing of the packaging or the label itself.


  • 50%

    Share of the food sector in Packing industry

The food packaging industry sector of developing countries derives its strength from the large volume of agricultural production, the steady growth in food commodities and the continually increasing food demand fuelled by rising incomes. Industry limitations that beset the packaging sector across developing regions include limited packaging solutions to meet international market requirements, and the small size of the domestic demand for packaging materials that consequently leads to low investment by the packaging industry. This, in turn, limits developing countries’ ability to enhance product quality to meet standards of increasingly discriminating consumers, both in domestic and international markets.

Food accounts for 50% of the global consumer packaging industry valued at US$ 380 billion as of 2009. If the beverage sector is to be added, that will even increase to 69%. That the food and beverage market accounts for more than half of the packaging market is a worldwide phenomenon. In developing countries the growing demand from the food and beverage market has been instrumental in stimulating the overall growth in the packaging industry 

The large losses from farm to plate are attributed to poor handling, distribution, storage, and purchase/ consumption behavior. Huge resources that could otherwise be spent on more productive activities go into producing and transporting goods that only go to waste. Losses at almost every stage of the food chain may be reduced by using appropriate packaging. Packaging is an essential part of a long-term incremental development process to reduce losses, that will have to employ a blend of technologies and processes. The global food packaging industry has a lot to contribute not only in addressing food losses but also in ensuring food safety as well as enhancing global food trade, which is a key to economic development of varying economies.ion of the economics of its use can help promote the use of food packaging to reduce food losses. Advances in packaging will not only lead to improved food quality and safety, they will also address an equally important concern in developing countries: that of livelihood enhancement of small producers through enhanced market access and integration into sustainable value chains.

The packaging solutions for reducing the food losses at every stage along the value chain are presented in Table. The stages that were included are: production, post-harvest, distribution, processing, wholesale, retail, and consumption

Table. Packaging solutions for reducing food waste along the value chain


Loss situation and causes at production stage

Selected packaging solutions

Unnecessary variety of packaging types

Universal packaging design

High amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per ton of production

Modified atmosphere packaging - Integrated materials handling and warehouse management systems

Non-recyclable wax-coated boxes for delicate perishables

Recyclable packages with excellent moisture barrier - reusable plastic containers

At post harvest stage


Inefficient product insulation

Fibre reduction

Microflute technology

Manual case forming and stretch wrapping

Automated processes reducing labour and material costs

At distribution stage


damage due to palletizing and strapping

Slip sheets and stretch wrapping in lieu of pallets and strapping

At processing stage


Damage during transport

Leak-resistant packaging - Tough, tear-resistant packaging

At wholesale stage


Damage due to high humidity, storage time and stacking height

Use of new materials with enhanced stacking strength - Modified atmosphere packaging

At retail stage


In-store preparation losses

Centralized food preparation - In the bag merchandizing

At consumption stage


Too much preparation

Portion control packs - Ready-to-eat entree

The trend to consume more (a reflection of rising incomes) creates a demand that drives producers to offer products in ready-to-go and prolonged shelf-life packages to induce volume purchase. Meal preparation takes time and with the advent of double income households, where women are also preoccupied with activities outside of the home or men are expected to share in food preparation chores, food that comes in easy-to-open and resealable packages is extremely popular. As a demand derived from the products that use it, the state of packaging and its status in developing countries are best deduced from the state of food and food processing industries. A number of factors are contributing to the growth of the packaging industry and they vary by region.

In the case of Asia, for instance, the foremost contributors are the fast-growing economies of China and India, which fuel an increasing demand for food supplies and consequently demand for packaging in the region. In the same manner, the sub-region of Southeast Asia has been experiencing a boost in the processed food industry owing to the modern lifestyle and food needs of its inhabitants. In Africa, proximity and access to the lucrative US and European markets is triggering the growth of the packaging industry.

Developing Market Economies (DgMEs) contribute substantially in the production of agricultural foods like cereals, roots and tubers, oilseeds and pulses (including nuts), fruits and vegetables (including bananas), animal products (milk, eggs, meat), as well as fish, contributing 60–80% to the world total production. The large volume of production in the agricultural food sector in DgMEs therefore offers a potentially huge market for investment for the international packaging industry, packaging being a critical component in the complete value chain of agricultural food products.

Aside from the large volume of production, another factor that can further attract investment in packaging is the steady growth in these commodities. Furthermore, in a report, FAO (2009a), has predicted that DgMEs have high growth opportunities in agriculture up to year 2018 (Figure 4), which has in fact already attracted high income countries to invest in DgMEs as supply regions to secure their own longterm food security.