Packaging Goes to School

Packaging Goes to School

Many people may be surprised to learn that degrees in packaging are available at a growing number of schools around the United States. Students can earn undergraduate degrees and a number of different graduate degrees in packaging studies. While this may come as a surprise at first, it makes more sense once you consider that packaging has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The industry, in concert with certain educational institutions, have seen the wisdom in educating those who will inherit this industry in the past, present and future of packaging.

Pick out any product on the shelf of a grocery store or department store today and with some brief analysis the many different components of packaging are easily realized. Take any product and you can pretty much guarantee that consultants were involved with the package design and marketing data. There were probably graphic designers for the package itself working with the marketing team to ensure that the product/package would appeal to the target audience. Manufacturers will be involved in the production of bottles, caps, labels, boxes, cartons, seals, shrink wrap and any other component of a package. An engineering department will design a packaging line and a production crew will fabricate conveyors, filling machines, cappers and other equipment to automate the packaging process. Research and development teams will work at every level of packaging to find new and better ways to target audiences, build machinery, package products and more. For mass produced items, from the very beginning of the product as an idea in someone’s head to the time it reaches the shelf, literally hundreds of individuals may be involved in the process in some manner.

The study of packaging will allow the next generation to comprehend not only the various aspects of packaging, but also the importance of each individual component. It will help the next group of packagers to understand that different, but crucial questions, will need to be answered for each product marketed. Questions such as:

Must the product stay free from contamination through the entire packaging process?

What message should the label convey to the end user?

What type of container will be convenient to the end user but also safe for the product?

The questions are seemingly endless, but an education in the science or art of packaging can help to identify and answer them more efficeintly and correctly.

As with any other course of study, the technology and packaging used in the industry today will constantly be changing, adapting and improving. The best package and packaging machinery for a product today will likely not be the best package or machine for the same type of product in the future. A solid foundation in the current practices of the industry with a new eye on the technology can only help to move the industry forward. Preparation breeds innovation, and structuring the preparation of the next generation of the packaging industry through higher education actually seems long overdue.

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