|The Packaging of Fruit Juice and Non-Carbonated Fruit Drinks (CDI, 1998, 87 p.)|
Wastage of foodstuffs is estimated at 50% in the least developed countries, at 30% in most developing countries and at a mere 2% in the developed world. These differences can be attributed to differences in packaging and distribution(1).
Economies are often in difficulty and development, especially in Africa, is slow.
Problems often begin with the failure of the harvest, crops rotting in the fields, vermin in the warehouses or an inability to distribute that which remains.
In a modern society practically all merchandise is packaged and the entire process of distribution would be impossible without the use of packaging materials.
To demonstrate its importance in our daily lives, these are the principle advantages of packaging(2).
1. For consumer health:
Packaging could help to prevent famine, malnutrition and sickness: a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.) concludes that improved packaging and handling would immediately reduce crop losses by 5% in several countries. This improvement alone would furnish at least an additional 39 million tonnes of foodstuffs each year (or nearly twice the annual world-wide deficit).
Packaging prevents the product from spoiling: it virtually guarantees a safe product and reduces the risk of fraud.
Packaging greatly reduces sickness: Public health and safety authorities consider packaging to be one of the main factors contributing to the regression of tuberculosis, influenza and numerous gastrointestinal illnesses over the last 100 years.
Packaging provides the consumer with information on a product: by indicating the composition, the quantity, the best-by date, and serving suggestions.
Packaging is convenient: it adapts to all types of needs, i.e. individual portions and easy-to-open packaging.
Packaging permits a wide range of products, which otherwise would not be available, to be offered for sale: we can drink mango juice out of season thousands of kilometres from the original plantation....
2. For business:
We use packaging materials in a more efficient manner: thanks to technological progress, we use less material to package the same amount of product... without sacrificing product quality (23% savings on a box of milk in 18 years, 25% on a PET bottle and on an aluminium tin in 20 years.)
Packaging reduces the cost of most products by reducing damage: Experts estimate that the cost of distribution for most products would be at least doubled if packaging did not exist.
Packaging reduces the cost of foodstuffs: through the reduction of losses due to vermin and spoilage.
3. For society:
Packaging reduces solid waste: a study carried out in Mexico has shown that a household in Mexico produces 40% more waste than one in the USA. One of the reasons is that, in Mexico, less packaging and fewer pre-cooked foodstuffs are used; the overall refuse includes far more organic waste.
Packaging contributes to a more elevated standard of living: thanks to more advanced packaging methods, inhabitants of the developed countries spend less each year on food than in other countries. Money thus saved can contribute to providing a higher standard of living.
Packaging contributes to the creation of jobs and revenue: in the USA, packaging is an industry worth 75 to 80 billion dollars and which employs more than 2 million people. Lecturers in the science and technology of packaging are among the most sought-after and best paid technical experts.
This also signifies that packaging costs are a part of everyone's daily life: studies have shown that packaging alone represents 5 to 50% of the overall cost of products, and that for foodstuffs the figure is 16 %.
Fruits are a natural resource in nearly all the African, the Caribbean and Pacific countries. Their variety is impressive and until recently, it must be said that few of these countries have known how to exploit this "gold mine" given the fragile nature of fresh fruit.
Therefore, one of the very first steps in the exploitation of any fruit is the making of a juice, a nectar or any other fruit-based drink.
One of the difficulties frequently encountered by promoters involves the choice of packaging.