Categories of Packaging

For convenience, all industrial packaging is classified into three main categories: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Packaging. Each category fulfils a particular role in the supply chain and this role determines how the product is designed, what materials are used, how it appears and how and where it is finally disposed of.

These categories are:

Primary Packaging
Primary packaging is to hold and protect the actual product and usually has most direct contact with the contents.

Some examples are:

  • Frozen vegetable bags
  • Beer cans
  • Egg boxes
  • Medicine bottles

Usually, the primary packaging is what the customer sees on the retail shelf and it is invariably printed to catch the customer’s eye and provide information.

Secondary Packaging
Secondary packaging contains and protects the primary packaging. Any printing is usually for information and identification but can include display printing. Secondary may be seen by the customer.

Some examples are:

  • Outer wrapping of a “6-pack” of drinks
  • Outer box containing a tube of toothpaste
  • Outer cartons holding a number of items of primary packaging. (Shelf-ready cartons are included here)

Tertiary packaging
Tertiary packaging is for protection in transporting and warehousing the product and is not commonly displayed on the retail shelf. Again, printing, if relevant, is for identification.

Some examples are:

  • Pallet wrap
  • Pallets
  • Pallet layer sheets

Understanding the reasons for this categorisation of packaging materials will inform decisions made in marketing, sales, production and logistics in every business.

Contact one of our packaging experts today to ensure your tertiary packaging is performing as it should, and fulfilling its purpose of protecting your goods effectively and efficiently.

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