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Clam Shell Packaging 101: Behind the Package with the Funny Name

If you head to the grocery store, you'll find a bevy of different packages. Typically, these packages are divvied up into two main categories - rigid packaging and flexible packaging. While everyone seems to have their own definition of what's considered "flexible" when it comes to packaging, generally speaking flexible packages are considered to be the plastic pouches and bags that hold products like salad, shredded cheese, snack foods, juice boxes and certain frozen items. Rigid packaging, on the other hand, is considered to be the boxes and thermoformed plastic containers that help package everything from health and beauty products to food and drinks. Clam shell packaging usually falls into the rigid packaging category, as it is usually made from either rigid plastic or paperboard. When it's created from plastic, it's usually either thermoformed or injection molded.
So just what is clam shell packaging? Specifically, it's a one-piece container, typically but not exclusively made of thermoformed or injection molded plastic, that has two halves which are folded together to protect and package a product. It utilizes a hinge of sorts to complete the open and closing action. It gets its name because it looks and operates similar to that of a clam shell - and you may be surprised at just how often you see and use clam shell packaging in your life. For instance, think of the to-go box that you get from your favorite restaurant when you're taking the rest of your meal home as leftovers - chances are the foam or paper box is a clam shell package. When you order a burger at a fast food joint, the burger may be prepared and presented to you for consumption in a clam shell box. If you buy a bunch of nails at the hardware store, they may come in a clam shell package. And when you purchase things like fresh fruit and produce at the grocery store, it's not uncommon to find things like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries packaged in plastic clam shell containers. Many other markets and industries rely on clam shell packaging, which we'll get into more throughout this piece.
Benefits of Clam Shell Packaging
Clam shell packaging wouldn't be such a common packaging option if it didn't exhibit a variety of benefits. Here's a look at some of these benefits:
• Attractive: Aside from protecting the product that it is packaging, one of the key roles of packaging is "popping" so that it stands out on the shelf and appeals to consumers. Clam shell packaging accomplishes this in a few ways. For starters, many clam shell plastic packages allow the customer to see inside the package and observe the product, and consumers prefer this transparency feature. There's also the ability to further customize and enhance the package design by inserting special graphics cards and labels into the package. It's also possible to dye the plastic to a different, more eye-popping color. Bottom line - clam shell packaging may seem simplistic in nature, but there's a lot that can be done to make it more appealing to consumers. And when part of a package's job is to appeal to consumers, this benefit is crucial.
• Good protection: Clam shell packaging also offers good product protection, a trait that has led many brands and consumer product companies to package higher-end items in them. Clam shell packages can usually be sealed or secured in some way, which helps keep products safe in the transportation of them, and many clam shell packages are also designed to prevent tampering.
• Variety: As we hinted in the opening, there are a lot of different types of clam shell packaging. We'll get into more of this variety in the next section, but know that clam shell packaging can be created around the application - and not the other way around. This helps brands put products in the packaging that is best for them. In a sense, clam shell packaging can be packaging without compromise.
Types of Clam Shell Packaging
Plastic clam shell packages are probably the most popular type of this style of package - and these packages are created either via thermoforming or injection molding. Here's a look at some of the types of clam shell packaging:
• Custom vs. Stock: Many manufacturers offer clam shell packaging either by custom package design and creation or in stock options. While stock options are cheaper than clam shells that are custom made, they may not secure and package the product as well as the alternative. Noting this, it's important for companies to weigh the pros and cons of the custom vs. stock option before making a decision.
• Box: Fitting to the name, box-like clam shell packages are box-shaped. Typically made of plastic, these packages can be used to package everything from fresh fruits to nails from the local hardware store. Large box clam shells are often used as to-go or carryout containers at restaurants.
• Rectangular: These types of clam shells area ideal for packaging more unconventionally shaped products. They can also be useful for packaging food items, such as cookies.
• Circular: Circular clam shells are best utilized for single-serve items, like sandwiches at a local deli. These types of clam shell packages often seal in some way to protect the food from premature spoilage and serve as a tamper resistance.
What Industries/Markets Use Clam Shell Packaging?
When it comes to packaging, different types of products are placed in different types of packages. However, when it comes to clam shell packaging, the markets and industries that this style serves are far-reaching. Aside from packaging a bevy of food products (it's estimated that clam shell packaging accounts for about 65 percent of the packaging when it comes to produce), clam shell packaging is also ideal for the following markets:
• Health and beauty.
• Hardware/home improvement.
• Cosmetics.
• Toys.
• Medical.
• Sporting goods.
• Electronics.
• Household goods.

One of the other big notables when it comes to clam shell packaging is that it isn't going anywhere. We already noted that clam shell packaging accounts for about 65 percent of the packaging market when it comes to produce - and this number is expected to increase about 20 percent by 2019 according to estimates from Freedonia Group, a leading market research firm. In other words, clam shell packaging is here to stay - and it's only likely to become more popular in the years to come.
For more information on clam shell packaging, and to learn more about the technologies and methods that help create this style of packaging, contact Bid on Equipment today.


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