The rise in e-commerce food and grocery sales means that packaging must adapt to withstand increased transportation, bolster hygiene to prevent contamination, and look more appealing, says Dave Berriman, Technical Manager at ULMA Packaging UK.

Berriman explains: “The COVID-19 world health epidemic has led to an increase in e-commerce sales, as both businesses and consumers practice social distancing to limit the spread of the virus. In turn, this has presented a new set of packaging challenges.”

To meet the upsurge in e-commerce sales, food manufacturers must adapt packs to ensure they can reach the consumer in a suitable condition, says Berriman: “One challenge of e-commerce is increased transportation, as packs go through more travel stages to get to the consumer. Packs must therefore provide suitable mechanical protection, so the product looks good and well preserved upon reaching the buyer.”

Bolstering hygiene and preventing internal contamination is crucial, especially in the current health crisis, Berriman continues: “Loose fresh grocery products now need to be packaged for online shopping to maintain product integrity and hygiene. Vacuum and protective atmosphere packaging help with food preservation, whilst providing a barrier to shield products from contaminants during transit.”

The visual aspect of packaging is another consideration for manufacturers to review when transitioning to e-commerce sales, Berriman concludes: “Designing packs to display and showcase the product will not only make it more attractive to prospective buyers but also easier for pickers to select when preparing the customer’s purchase. Manufacturers should make the most of packaging by incorporating easily identifiable labelling or new solutions with bar codes or QR codes.”