100 years of packaging: how packaging has changed over the last century

The world of packaging has come a long way since its birth. Back when it was in its infancy, packaging was not the throwaway layer it has largely become, but rather, a beautiful exterior to a valuable product – and one which buyers may have kept as decoration or storage.

However, as time moved on and supermarkets came to power, a pretty box was no longer enough. Packaging had to be robust and keep food fresher for longer. It had to be waterproof and sometimes, airtight as to prevent bacteria from growing in foods like meat and dairy. 

Packaging has always had an element of art to it, but never before has there been so much competition to be noticed on a shelf. If you visit a supermarket, you will see for yourself that dozens of cereal boxes must compete to be the brightest, most visible, most interesting to a range of different audiences. Designers and advertisers must now go above and beyond to be heard in such a loud industry.

If you are as interested in packaging as we so obviously are, then we hope that you will enjoy seeing how packaging has changed over the last 100 years – in function and in form. From simple bottles and boxes, with quaint designs and last-forever tins, to modern printing and the science of food freshness, packaging has made leaps and bounds in a century, and will continue to do so into the next.