Packaging of the product is equally part of the product, since the packaging can itself convey benefits. The main purpose of packaging is to protect the contents from the outside environment and vice versa, but packaging also carries out the following functions:
Packaging decisions might include such areas as tamper resistance (paper strips around caps to prevent bottles being opened while on supermarket shelves) and customer usage (e.g. the development of beer packaging from bottles to cans to ring pulls to non-waste ring pulls to draught beer systems). The protection of the environment has become important to consumers in recent years, so much packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable. Customer acceptability is of obvious importance; packaging must be hygienic and convenient for the consumer. Within the United Kingdom there has been a growing trend to develop packaging designs that can be legally protected under the 1994 Trade Marks Act; the purpose of this is to prevent imitators from making close copies of the packaging. In some cases the package design has been made expensive to copy, requiring re-tooling for unusual pack shapes, or expensive printing processes. ‘Me-too’ packaging has become particularly common among supermarket own-brand versions of popular products, and there has been some debate about the ethics of this. In some countries these close copies infringe copyright or patent laws.
Colour can also be important: for example, Heinz's use of a turquoise label for their baked beans tin emphasises the orange colour of the beans when the can is opened. In recent years, because of the huge upsurge in world trade, it has also become necessary to consider the legal requirements of labelling, which differ from one country to the next; nutritional information may have to be in a different form for each country (for example, in the United States food has to be labelled with the amount of fat it contains expressed as a percentage of a 2000 calorie daily intake).
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