Driving forces for food packaging development in Sweden - a historical perspective

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Availability of safe, edible food is essential. Food shortage has caused many wars and encouraged people to try to preserve food for a longer time, allowing storage and transport, often in some kind of package/container. The USA showed the way in developing the food sector and already prior to the 2nd World War they had self-service stores filled with packed goods. Europe,
however, had to wait to apply the US ideas until after the war. As Sweden did not take part, the country got a head start, although with restricted imports and exports and rationing of some food.
When self-service retail and new food products, particularly frozen food, became available in the 1950s, the role of packaging and distribution became important, providing mass-produced food at reasonable prices. The country took the lead in frozen food in Europe and became the origin of some quite successful packaging companies and distribution/equipment suppliers, starting up as local supporting companies to the food sector but then expanding into Europe in order to grow.
The purpose of this study is to identify the key drivers in society, in the food industry and elsewhere that have affected the development of food-retail packaging, with Sweden as an example of a lead country in Europe for some years after WW II. The study is qualitative and based on semi-structured interviews with experts in the field.
The results clearly indicate that frozen food technology and the introduction of self-service stores at about the same time and mainly later chilled/fresh food are the three developments that are considered to have had the most profound influence on the food sector development. Packages
were considered as a consequence of the appearance of frozen or chilled food and self-service stores by the interviewees and not as very important in itself, even though neither frozen/chilled food nor self-service stores would exist without packaging and efficient distribution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld of Food Science
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Mechanical Engineering


  • driving forces
  • chilled food
  • self-service
  • frozen food
  • food packaging
  • packaging logistics
  • logistics


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