Food and bev in refrigerator

A Competitive Edge in a Fast-Growing Space

The food and beverage packaging market is continuing to see growth and shifts like never before. COVID-19 led to an increase in takeout, cooking at home, and at-home meal kit services, all ways to help meet consumer expectations of sanitary, secure, and sustainable packaging.

Polymer packaging provides consumers and brand owners with a variety of benefits over other materials. HDPE and LLDPE are often more energy-efficient to manufacture than alternative materials. According to the American Chemistry Council, just two pounds of plastic can deliver 10 gallons of a beverage. To hold the same amount with other popular materials for beverage containers, companies would need:

  • Three pounds of aluminum
  • Eight pounds of steel
  • Over forty pounds of glass1

Polymer packaging will play an even more significant role as consumers actively consider how their goods are protected during the delivery and shipping process. Packaging that can be easily sanitized and prevents tampering can help reassure consumers that the contents are safe to consume. Additionally, both rigid and flexible polymer packaging can help make brand owners stand out from the competition while offering customers more time to enjoy their purchase.

These new demands require a reliable supply chain and a consistent source of resin. That’s where Shell Polymers comes in with its high quality, consistent HDPE and LLDPE resins for food and beverage packaging applications. Our resins will act as the starting point for converters to create flexible packaging that maximizes shelf life and keeps consumers safe.

Types of Food & Beverage Packaging


High-performance packaging will help to keep food fresh for extended periods. Polymer packaging also has low moisture/vapor transmission rates to keep food and consumers safe. It also helps to keep meat fresher longer, because plastic films for fresh meat packaging are specifically designed to allow a small amount of oxygen to pass through the film, thus maintaining the oxymyoglobin that gives meat its fresh red color.2

Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

Plastic packaging has been known to extend the shelf life of perishable foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, which helps to reduce food waste. One way this is achieved is through modified atmosphere packaging, which helps the container provide a reduced-oxygen air mixture that better preserves food.3 1 The moisture- and chemical-resistant properties of HDPE and LLDPE keep produce fresh and prevent wilting.

Dry Goods

HDPE is an approved food-safe material4 that is typically used to make cereal and snack liners. HDPE is strong enough to stand on its own, making it ideal for cardboard box liners. It also offers moisture-resistant properties to protect from liquids and helps dry goods last longer.

Refrigerated and Frozen foods

Milk, juices, cheese, and other cold-storage items are typically packaged in rigid or flexible plastic. HDPE is impact resistant to protect liquid packaging from punctures. Plus, both forms of PE can withstand a wide range of temperatures, covering the products from the outside environment.5

Reduce Food Waste and Keep Consumers Safe

There is a reason why plastic sees such high usage in the food and beverage space. In addition to being cost-effective and durable, polyethylene film can help combat a common social and environmental issue – food waste.

Polyethylene film packaging can help increase the shelf life of goods, reducing the chances of food being thrown away. According to The Economist, “ wrappings can, in fact, be an environmental boon. By more than doubling the time that some meat items can stay on shelves, for example, better packaging ensures that precious resources are used more efficiently.”6

According to the American Meat Science Association, there are a few reasons for this:

  • Most materials designed for wrapping meat have specific qualities, such as low moisture/vapor transmission rates, heat shrink ability, stretch, flexibility, strength, and the ability to retain their protective characteristics over a wide range of temperatures and conditions.
  • Films for fresh meat packaging allow a small amount of oxygen to pass through the film, thus maintaining the oxymyoglobin that gives meat its bright red color.7

Consumer preferences continue to dictate how plastic food packaging evolves, with many looking to sanitize packages due to COVID-19. Packaging materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are resistant to many organic substances, such as bacteria and fungi. As the trend from monolayer to multilayer film continues, the hygienic properties of multilayer film prevents germs and other contaminants from penetrating the surface. HDPE is also resistant to most chemicals, meaning it can withstand sanitation efforts such as consistent exposure to cleaning agents.

Polymer Trends Impacting the Food and Beverage Industry

Discover how converters can support brands in meeting consumer expectations as the industry evolves.

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Technical Expertise for Food and Beverage PE Applications

Dan Falla

Dan Falla, Senior Technical Service Engineer, Film

Senior Technical Service Engineer, Film

Dan Falla has helped customers innovate in new product and application development for over 30 years. He is a Fellow with the Society of Plastics Engineers, Membership Chair of the Flexible Packaging Division, Recycle Division Councilor, and a Fellow with the Society of Plastics Engineers. He was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement award with the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada.

Meet Dan

Francisco Alvarez

Francisco Alvarez, Senior Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding and Injection Molding

Senior Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding and Injection Molding

An industry veteran, Francisco is an experienced chemical engineer and a certified project management professional. He has spent over 25 years in the polymers industry, imparting technical support globally to both converters and polypropylene and polyethylene resin producers. He also developed new polymer additives and formulations for PP and PE (performance enhancement and nucleating agents), for which he has received two R&D 100 Awards and several patents.

Meet Francisco

Michael Misco

Michael Misco, Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding

Technical Service Engineer, Blow Molding

A member of the Shell Polymer team since 2018, Michael has nearly ten years of experience supporting extrusion blow molding processes for new production line start-ups and leading R&D programs for new technology. During his tenure at a global leader in plastic packaging, he developed and led a focused continuous improvement team into high risk, high demand production lines and worked on overall improvements and fine-tuning of in-line processes.

Meet Michael