Food packaging — why is it so important?

Monday, 02 November, 2020

Food packaging can be a barrier to quality nutrition. If a consumer at home, hospital patient, or a resident within an aged care facility can’t open the food packaging, then they can’t eat the food; it’s as simple as that.

Research conducted in NSW Hospitals showed that over 80% of elderly patients experienced difficulties or were unable to open one or more food packaging items1. These difficulties can include requiring a utensil to open packaging with consequent spillage and mess, not to mention the increased risk of hand injuries. Many older people express frustration and an impact to their independence and ability to adequately intake proper nutrition when accessible packaging options are not available to them. This issue, combined with the prevalence of malnutrition in the acute hospital setting (documented to be between 20–50%),2 is cause for concern.

Malnutrition is the imbalance between the supply of energy, protein and other nutrients and the body’s demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance and specific functions. Malnutrition can result in weight loss, muscle wasting, impaired immune function, poor wound healing and loss of strength3. For this reason, it is important that patients and residents can access the food they are provided, and accessible packaging makes this possible.

A greater emphasis on accessible packaging among healthcare providers

It was based on these insights into packaging as a barrier to nutrition that led organisations like HealthShare NSW and Health Purchasing Victoria (HPV) to place an emphasis on packaging accessibility in their tenders for food and beverage product procurement. A Packaging Accessibility Rating is provided by manufacturers for their single serve food and beverage products and this rating shows how easily products can be opened by patients. Arthritis Australia’s Accessible Design Division is the approved testing authority for issuing the Packaging Accessibility Rating. The rating estimates the percentage of the population who can open and read packaging. The highest rating on the scale is a +8, which means that 95% of consumers are able to easily and safely open the packaging as well as read the labelling4.

The SPC ProVital brand recognised the need to take a leadership role in elevating accessibility of its portion-controlled products in order to improve consumer access to quality nutrition while assisting in the reduction of food waste. The portion-controlled cups have been specifically developed using the guidelines established by Arthritis Australia to achieve a +8 rating and an Easy-to-Open Certification. The aim of creating the cups in this accessible packaging is to provide a more accessible fruit snack for consumers with fine motor skill difficulties. The key features that provide these accessible benefits include:

  • Textured and lengthened pull tab for easier grip
  • Clear instructions for opening
  • Optimised seal to reduce opening force
  • Decagon shape for easier grip
  • Extra large font for improved legibility

SPC ProVital has been recognised globally by the packaging industry for its innovative and sustainable packaging that minimises food losses and food waste. Their portion-controlled cup was awarded the 2016 Save Food Packaging Award from the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), a 2018 WorldStar Packaging Award from the World Packaging Organisation (WPO), and a gold winner at the PIDA 2019 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards for Accessible Packaging Design.

SPC ProVital is now available direct to your home

In addition to being available in the Hospital and Residential Aged Care settings, SPC is pleased to announce a partnership with Atlas McNeil Healthcare Community. With easy-to-use online ordering and delivery direct to your door, SPC ProVital products are now available to assist with your nutritional needs, safely and conveniently.

Click here to visit the Atlas McNeil Community site.


  1. According to multiple patient studies in NSW Hospitals. 2011-2015. HealthShare NSW 2015.
  2. Barker L, Gout B and Crowe T. Hospital Malnutrition: Prevalence, Identification and Impact on Patients and the Healthcare System. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2011; vol 8, pp 514-527.
  3. Evidence based practice guidelines for the nutritional management of malnutrition in adult patients across the continuum of care. Nutrition & Dietetics Journal; Volume 66 Supplement 3, December 2009.
  4. Receiving a Packaging Accessibility Rating for the health system. Arthritis Australia. 2017. Available @
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