This unit explains the function, characteristics and important of packaging

Learning outcomes

By the end of the lesson learners will be able to:

1) Explain the concept and types of package, primary, secondary

and tertiary packages.

2) Identify the functions of package.

3) Describe legal and non-legal requirements of a package.

4) Discuss the characteristics and uses of packaging items: wrappers,

labels containers.

5) Use computer-generated graphics to design and produce

packaging items.



 A package is a container for the purpose of enclosing products for use, storage, sale or distribution. A package identifies a product by name, colour, and logo (brand mark).

A package also helps in branding. A brand (name) refers to a unique kind of product or service, existing among a group of similar products or services. Also, a name or symbol given to a product/service, to differentiate it from others. Branding is a practice of giving a particular product/service identity.

Packaging is the art of enclosing or packing a product in a container, labelling and sealing it, in readiness for use, storage, sales and distribution.

A system of preparing goods for warehousing (storage), logistics, sale and use. Packaging is basically aimed at protecting the product and making it easy for the consumer to carry. It is obviously a process. The process of packaging can be broken down as follow: i) Packing goods into package, ii) Labelling package, iii) Sealing package.

Packaging designing, on the other hand, is the art of planning and producing suitable containers (packages) in which products for sale, distribution, storage, and use are put or enclosed.


Primary Package: These are packages that hold the ‘naked’ product directly. The major function of the primary package is to protect the product from the external environment. A primary package may be branded or not, depending on how it is used in the packaging process. For instance, non-branded wrappers and containers that are used to hold products directly before being kept in another branded box are also primary packages. Examples of some products that use primary packages are liquids, alcohols, powders, creams ice creams, toffees, crystals, solids etc.

      Secondary Package: These are packages that hold a product that is contained in a primary package. The secondary package does not protect the ‘naked’ product directly but helps to identify and market the product. With secondary packages, they must be removed before the primary package is reached and the primary package must be removed to access the product. Secondary packages usually display the products because they are branded or decorated. Examples are boxes of tooth pastes, perfumes, medicine etc.

      Tertiary Packages: These are mainly used to hold group of products for storage and transportation. Some tertiary packages also display the product. Most tertiary packages are large. Cartos, crates boxes, containers etc. are examples.


There are five major functions or purposes of packages. These are 1) Containing  2) Identification  3) Protection  4) Preservation and  5) Selling or marketing.

Containing: Packages are used to hold a product directly or indirectly to make is easy to carry, store, transport and protect it from the effects of the atmosphere.

Identification: The brand names, unique product colour and slogans shown on packing products help consumers to identify packaged products easily on the shelves.

Protection: Packages especially primary packages protect the product directly from the effects of atmosphere elements such as air, dust, water, smoke, chemicals etc. such contaminations cause the product to spoil or lose its potency. Packages also protect products such liquidized products from leakage, spillage, evaporation and caking. It also prevent pilfering and protects the product to achieve its


  Preservation: Packages preserve products especially, beverages and all consumables as well as cosmetics from losing their efficacy such as fragrance, taste scent, aroma, texture, lustre etc.

  Selling or Marketing: Packages also sell and market the product. The brand name or  product name adopted for products gives them unique identity and distinguishes them from similar products in the market. This help consumers to identify products with their names in the market and patronize them. Also, the uniqueness of the brand names and special treatments given to them place much emphasis on them therefore making them appealing and attractive to consumers. The realistic style in which illustrations are depicted on most packages whets the appetize of consumers and this subsequently induces them to buy the product. Good layout and colour harmony also enhance the aesthetic appeal of packaged products on the shelves which can also stimulates consumers to make impulse buying.

Apart from branding and the attractiveness of packages, other vital information such as ingredients, functions and uses of the product, the reputation and goodwill of the manufacturer, authentication symbols, manufacture and expiry dates etc. provide vital information about the product to consumers which give them more insight and boost their confidence in the product. Other information such as slogans created for packages also contribute to the branding of the product. The uses of all this visual elements and vital information on packages appeal to the instincts of consumers, make them develop interest for the products and patronize them.

Other Functions of Packages: In addition to the five traditional functions of packages, good packaging helps easy carriage and transportation of products. They also provide relevant information about the product to consumers and protect them from potential dangers that may occur due to improper usage of the product.



All good packages are expected to satisfy two basic requirements:

             1) Legal requirements   2) Non-legal requirements

  Legal Requirements: These are vital information which by law must appear on every package. These include: the name of the product , name and address of manufacturer of the product. The date of manufacture and expiration of the product, ingredients used to manu- facture the product, procedure for using the product, Ghana Standards Authority’s logo and Foods and Drugs Board’s (for consumables), bar code and others. Failure to provide any of these information on a package is an offence punishable by law.

Non-legal Requirements: These are other equally significant information that must be provided on packages. However, failure to show them on a package does not constitute a legal offence even though such information will enhance the quality of the product and facilitate greater patronage. They include: illustrations, serving suggestions, colour scheme, product or company logo, product slogan, safety symbols, etc.


   Items used to package products are grouped into three: labels, wrappers and containers (boxes, sachets, tubes sacks, cans, drum, etc.)

Labels: These are flat designed sheets that are pasted or wrapped around a container which can be peeled off or detached from the container. They are made with light paper and plastic sheets with or without adhesive backing. They can also be made with light metal sheets. Labels are usually fixed on boxes, tins, bottles, etc. It must be emphasized that, labels do not stand on their own because, they do not contain a product but they form part of the package because, they help the container to perform its marketing and identification functions.

Wrappers: These are flat decorated sheets used to wrap a product. They are made with light sheets such as paper, plastics, aluminum foil etc. they are used for solid products such as soaps, toffees, biscuits etc. because such products can easily be put together.

Containers: These are enclosed and decorated three-dimensional (3D) items that are used to hold products. The various classification of containers used for packaging are: cans, bottles, boxes, satchels, sachets, tubes, sacks, drums barrel, etc.

Cans: These are made with aluminum or galvanized sheets e.g. milk tin, milo tin etc. They are often used to hold liquid beverages etc.

Tubes: These are made with light flexible plastic or aluminum foils. They are used to hold jelly and liquid substances such as pepsodent, glue etc.

Boxes: These are collapsible containers made with paper cards or thick or light plastic sheets such as straw board, chip board, film, etc. They are folded and glued to form the box.

Bottles: These are made of glass or plastic sheets. They are mostly used to hold liquidized products.

Sachet: These are  small or handy  enclosed bags into which a product is filled or poured. They are made with light opaque or transparent plastic sheets. The enclosed side of the sachets can be seamed or not. Sachets are three-dimensional (3D) and have no handle. They are used        to hold crystal, powdered and liquidized products such as salt, sugar, rice  powdered milk, distilled water etc.

 Sacks: These are either made with jute, fabric or thick rubber sheets. They have  the same characteristics as sachets but are bigger in size. They are either sewed or seamed at the two ends. Sacks are used to hold cereals, crystal, powdered products etc.

 Barrels and Drums: These are big plastic and metal containers use to hold liquid chemicals and beverages. It must be emphasized that most container packages are branded or decorated and enclosed. However, branded open bowls, carrier bags, etc. even though cannot preserve products, they can be classified as packaging items because they can identify, market and facilitate carriage of products.



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