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The Shift in Butter Packaging Technology

Early functions of packaging include contain, protect, preserve and ease in transportation but after the industrial revolution 'marketing functions' of packaging developed.

Swift shift in Butter packaging scenario

Industrial Revolution not only transformed people from peasants to industrialists but also made market systematic. Systematic in terms of products rather creating demand for products and ultimately lead a competitive environment in the market which had also reflected the food industry. Early functions of packaging include contain, protect, preserve and ease in transportation but after the industrial revolution ‘marketing functions’ of packaging developed. Marketing functions ensure a competitive advantage for the company. Main marketing functions include communication, promotion and motivation. Marketing professionals need artistic as well as motivational understanding. So that their product could dictate the market. Amul butter girl is the best example of marketing in India.

This article aims to sensitize readers with various aspects of butter packaging.


What packaging is?

Packaging in simple words packing of the product. But it should be considered as a complex dynamic coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, distribution, storage, retaining and use of the goods. It can be perceived to be a powerful weapon which when properly used can make the company victorious.


Need for proper packaging for butter

Butter can be categorised under the fat-rich dairy products. Since it contains a high percentage of fat so they are more susceptible to spoilage. Table butter contains 80% milk fat, 15% moisture, 1.5% curd and 3% common salt. Because of high moisture content butter is more susceptible to mould growth. Flavour and aroma are easily absorbed by butter from its environment. Rancidity is common in butter. Also, it tends to lose moisture. Proper packaging is needed to ensure the non-toxic product for consumer’s health. Butter packaging material should be grease/moisture-proof. It should act as a barrier to oxygen and light (contributes to the oxidation). Packaging material should also have low metallic content as metals favour oxidation of fat.


Salient features of butter packaging materials

Butter packaging materials must be non-toxic, non-greasy, non-sticky, amenable to packaging machines and economically feasible. Apart from these features, they should offer:

Protection against external environments like light, humidity, gases, odours, etc.

Protection against loss or gain of moisture.

Protection against yeast, moulds and bacteria.

Protection against mechanical damage.

Corrosion resistance.

Ease of transportation.

Appeal to the consumers.

Convenience to retailers and consumers.


Packaging forms

Packaging of butter depends on the required form, weight unit and packaging material. Common forms of butter are wrapped blocks or rolls, boxes, cubes, tubes and tin cans.

For bulk packages, corrugated or solid fibreboard has almost completely replaced wood. Parchment is the common lining but plastic films and aluminium foils are used in some countries. The weight of contents is mostly 25 kg.

Retail packages are mainly wrappers made from aluminium foils, parchment laminates or parchment alone. Tubs holding 50-300 g for retail sale or 10-15 g for customer portions are in trend. These are usually closed with heat-sealed foils or laminates. Latest packaging form is shallow 1-2 mil thick Al foil trays with heat sealable PVDC-cellophane.


The packaging material used for butter

In India, butter is packed in bulk and retail packages. For bulk packaging, there is no specific method. Generally, polyethene bags/ parchment paper along with corrugated boxes are used.

Aluminium foil (0.09 mm) thick, surface treated with lacquer for protecting against corrosion. Aluminium foil/parchment or glassine paper (40-42 gsm). PVC or cardboard with a parchment insert can be used.

Indian Standard 2034-1961 gives specifications for tin cans of 200 g and 400 g capacity that are to be used for the package of butter. As per specifications tin plate thickness of 0.24 mm and 0.27 mm respectively and minimum tin coating of 17 g/ sq.m besides many other requirements. For the protection of butter, tinplate containers are the best one but due to their high costs, they are not often used. Alternatively, aluminium foil, vegetable parchment paper or greaseproof paper can be used. As per Indian Standard 7161 – 1973, vegetable parchment paper should be of 45 gsm and above can be used. Indian Standards recommend the usage of 0.009 mm thick aluminium foil. Butter is susceptible to catch odours from the environment thus proper care should be kept while using adhesives and printing ink for packaging materials.

Cartons protect butter during transportation and distribution process just after packaging in the primary wrapper. It is suggested to wax cartons with about 10 gsm wax on either side. Large packs of butter (10 kg, 20kg and 50 kg) packed in wooden barrels or parchment paper-lined boxes.


Standards for vegetable parchment paper

Grammage: 41-45

Bursting strength: 1.8 ± 0.2 kg/sq. cm

Wet strength: 0.8 ± 0.2 kg/sq. cm

Grease strength: Should pass the turpentine oil test

Acidity: 0.02% as H2SO4

the pH of H2O extract: not less than 0.5

Brightness: 79



Good packaging is key to the success of any product. It should perform technical (protect, contain, etc) as well as marketing (communicate, attractive, etc) functions. Since butter is a perishable fat-rich dairy product so proper care should be taken in its packaging.

To read about active packaging technology from extrusion technology click here



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