Part 2: The History and Future of Food Packaging Technology

In the first part of this blog series, we covered the earliest forms of food packaging technologies, going back to the earliest known type of packing materials. We left off at the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the industrialization of the world. During the 20th century, population growth, technology developments, wars, the rise of the digital age, and many other events spurred the evolution of modern packing systems. From the first plastics to the first biodegradable materials, we have seen many iterations of food packaging technologies grow and adapt in the past 150 years. At Forpak, we manufacture industry-leading, automated food processing equipment for the meat, poultry, and bakery industries. Our designs are innovative solutions that use modern software and intelligent controls for laning, sorting, autotransfers, stacking, conveyors, and reject systems.

Food Packaging

Our equipment designs are premier resources for food packing production floors, but they often handle packaging materials that have been used in some formats for many years. For example, the simple cardboard carton and cardboard box have been used in the food industry since the late 1800s.

Food Packaging technologies

Some food packaging technologies commonly used today are also materials that are over 100 years old, while others are brand-new systems. A few of the newest technologies, such as edible packaging systems, are still in development. Let’s take a look at the development of key technologies over time.

  • Bakelite: The world’s first manufactured plastic, Bakelite, was originally developed in 1908 in New York. For the time, it was one of the best materials for heat resistance and electrical nonconductivity. It was relatively low-cost and had a unique cosmetic range.
  • Cellophane: Soon after Bakelite, cellophane was developed and put into production by 1912. Cellophane is a transparent sheet of regenerated cellulose. Its low permeability to moisture, oils, air, and bacteria makes it an excellent material for food storage. Cellophane is still used in packaging select products today, ranging from candies to cigars.
  • PET plastics: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a plastic first patented in 1941. The first PET bottle was invented by Nathaniel Wyeth in 1973. Because PET bottles were cheaper than glass and could contain carbonated beverages, they quickly became the ideal material for many parts of the food industry.
  • Barcodes: In the 1970s and 1980s, barcode labels became a standard way to track and digitally inventory food products. In addition to the adoption of barcodes, nutrition labels became more standardized, and labels began to be digitally printed on food containers.
  • Biodegradables: The first biodegradable plastics and other green solutions started to become popular in the early 2000s as oil prices increased dramatically. These biodegradable materials are biosynthesized plastics or other materials made from seaweed, plant waste, and bacteria.


Today, there is a huge range of food packaging technology used to pack, ship, store, and distribute food supplies around the world. To learn more about Forpak technologies, contact us by calling (612) 419-1948 or emailing You can also request more information online today or request a quote to get started with us today.