This page deals with that part of the supply chain where the product is packaged for marketing.

“Packaging” can include rigid and flexible plastic containers, cardboard containers, plastic bulk bins, punnets and trays for fruit and vegetables, sachet machines, tinplate pails and cans and other metal containers, polyfoam, polystyrene, as well as the equipment used prepare the product for the market.

A walk along any fresh produce market floor will emphasise the role of packaging in promoting fresh produce. Nothing looks better than a neatly stacked row of pallets boasting an attractive, branded, quality product for sale. (The contrast is brown, unattractive cartons, often bent and buckled, offering inferior quality to the cheap-line buyer).

Labelling legislation came into effect from 2012, governing the use of terms like “free range”, “organic”, “free range” etc. The legislation stems from the Department of Health’s Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (regulation R146/2010), but detailing and enforcing these protocols is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Coupled with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), it means that labelling of products will require more thought, accuracy and caution than in the past.

The development of Africa’s handling systems and cold chain potential is vital in promoting intra-Africa trade.

Source: Packaging SA

Packaging in agriculture

  • A major trend in the food industry is to make packaging more environmentally friendly and to increase the rate of recycling.
  • Local fresh produce buyers have refined logistics to where produce is packed in the field and stays in that container all the way through to the retailer’s shelf.
  • Bulk bins are used, but this is for produce that is intended for juicing.
  • Computerisation (bar coding) makes it possible for the producer or purchaser to trace any pallet, bulk bin or carton from the farm to the supermarket throughout the supply chain. For high value products RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Discs) tags are increasingly being used to counter fraud and control inventories.
  • Some of the repacking takes place overseas for two reasons: (1) to recheck the quality of the fruit received, and (2) to react quicker to the market demands.
Source: Packaging SA

Read about requirements for Food Business Operators (FBOs) at Packhouses are included in this category.

Some notes


A note on wood packaging

The International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures Guidelines for regulating wood-packaging material in international trade, ISPM 15, covers wood-packaging material such as pallets, dunnage, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, loading boards, pallet collars and skids, which can be present in any imported/exported consignments. Treated wood-packaging material should bear the appropriate International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) mark to certify that the wood-packaging material has been subjected to the approved phytosanitary measure.


Recycling and Biodegradable Packaging

See also the following:

Associations involved


Training and Research

  • Agri Academy SA Tel: 021 880 1276/7
    Packaging and packaging requirements is included in the training done on technical market access requirements.
  • Find the link to the “National Certificate: Fruit Packing and Grading Processes” qualification on the AgriSETA website,
  • FOODBEV Tel: 011 253 7300 FoodBev is the Sector Education and Training Authority responsible for facilitating training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector. Packaging operations are included in its learning programmes. Find accredited training providers on the website.
  • Institute of Packaging SA (IPSA) Tel: 041 379 5599 The organisation is also a voluntary body focusing on industry professionalism via education. As part of its commitment to education the Institute of Packaging manages a packaging diploma programme and also runs the well known Goldpack and Student Goldpack Awards.

Companies involved


Cold storage

Find the several options dealing with refrigeration at


Scales and weighing equipment


General handling systems





Websites and publications

Visit websites mentioned earlier on this page.

  • A Handbook of Packaging Technology is a “most valuable information source for the African packaging industry” and is the prescribed text book for students at the Institute of Packaging SA. To order a copy contact the national secretariat at 011 804 1614 or email education [at]
  • Find the “Packaging Review” option at
  • Another publication is Packaging & Print Media. Visit
  • Food & Beverage Reporter, which includes Packaging Reporter. See
  • put out a weekly retail newsletter which includes a packaging heading. Call 021 680 3500 or visit
  • Book thirteen of the series Training manuals: cooperatives is called “Packaging, Pricing & Storage”. The books can be viewed at (take the “Resource Centre” option). Also find the Info Pak “Regulating wood packaging material”.
  • Ingeo bioplastics offers the food, cosmetics and other industries a new packaging material derived from sugar instead of petroleum. Read about it at


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