Alternatives to Metal Packaging: An Opportunity in The Crisis for Food Packaging Industry

Food Packaging

Role of Packing in The Food Industry

Packaging is an important segment in the food industry, as it serves multiple purposes for businesses such as not just food handling, preservation and safety but also marketing and branding. Packed has become an essential part of the food processing industry today. Metals are extensively used in food packaging by the food processing industries to make different types of containers like cans, open trays, aerosol containers, caps, closures, lids, etc.

Food Packaging Market Overview

Food packaging equipment market is growing at a rapid pace in the country. According to ReportLinker, the Indian food and beverage packaging market is expected to reach USD 122.78 billion by 2025, with a growth rate of 29.88% per year over the next five years. The packaging industry in India is expected to register a CAGR of 26.7% between 2021 and 2026 with major a contribution from the food industry, as per the Mordor Intelligence report.                  

The food packaging industry in India is majorly driven by various factors like rising demand for online and packed food, growing awareness about food safety, rise in the standard of living of middle class people in the country, etc.

Types of Metals Used in Food Packaging

We already know that metals are used in food packaging. Now we will look at the different types of metals and alloys used for packaging in the food industry. Aluminium, steel, tin, etc. are some of the metals largely used in food packaging. 


Aluminium Packaging

Aluminium and its alloys containing elements like magnesium, silicon, iron, copper, zinc, etc. are highly resistant to corrosion. As a packaging material, Aluminium is well known for its properties like lightweight, impermeability to water vapour, gases and light. This makes them a preferred choice for metal packaging in food packaging.


Steel is one of the most commonly used materials in metal packaging. Electrolytic chromium/chromium coated oxide coated steel has wide applications in food packaging technology such as cans, can ends, etc. Steel coated with tin called as electrolytic tinplate is also used in metal packaging.     


Tin Packaging

Tin is generally used as a thin layer on steel and other metals in the metal packaging. It is applied through an electrolytic process. Ordinary metals react with food causing decomposition. The tin layer coating prevents the metals from corrosion and chemical reactions with the food products.

Shortage of Tinplate & Tine-free Steel in India

The metal packaging industry in India which is worth 10,000 Crores is facing a shortage of tinplate and tin-free steel. The Government of India imposed a BIS standard on the import of tinplate and tin-free steel on 17th July 2020, and recently extended it till 17th July 2021.   

“In the wake of acute shortage of tinplate/ tin-free steel material which is largely used to manufacture cans and containers to pack processed food and fruits, the processed food packaging industry is feeling a pinch,” said Metal Container Manufacturers Association of India in a press release.  

Though some exporters from foreign countries have applied for BIS registration, the approval process has been halted due to the Covid-19 second wave in the country. This has led to a severe shortage of tinplate and tin-free steel, which are the much-needed materials for metal packaging.     

Alternatives to Metal Packaging Updated

Alternatives to Metal Packaging

As the tinplate shortage in the country is impacting the food industry, let us look at some of the best alternatives to metal food packaging material satisfying the properties of metal packaging. Apart from metal, different types of materials like paper, plastic, glass, etc. are used for packaging in the food industry.     

Paper Packaging

Paper Packaging

Paper is used as a packaging material in the food industry. It is easily available, recyclable as well as cost-effective. Paper packaging is the most viable business idea for small and medium scale industries as it requires less investment. It can be started with a minimum investment of 20-30 lakhs.

Plastic Packaging

Plastic Packaging

Perhaps, plastic is the most widely used packaging material in the food industry as well as other industries like pharma, chemical, FMCG, etc. Plastic is known for its flexibility, durability, and lightweight. Today, the usage of recyclable plastic materials is gaining traction with growing concerns on the environmental pollution due to plastic. The investment required for the plastic packaging industry with minimum capacity ranges from 50-70 lakhs.    

Glass Packaging

Glass Packaging

Glass is another alternative to metals in food packaging. Unlike paper, glass is resistant to moisture and inert to chemical reactions. It is mostly used for food products with a longer shelf-life. The investment required to start glass ranges from 5-10 crores.  

Considering the current metal shortage for the food packaging industry in the country and the dire situation of the food packaging industry due to lack of essential metals, it is more than a necessity to explore the available alternatives to metal food packaging material. It is the best time for MSMEs in the country to enter into food packaging industry with a focus on alternatives to metal packaging. However, setting up an industry is easier said than done, as it involves many things which require advice from experts.           

Register Now

If you are planning to start food packaging business and looking for alternatives to metal packaging, then kindly register with SolutionBuggy. We provide you access to trusted and verified experts who can assist you in setting up the food packaging industry. We help you right from market research, DPR, funding plant setup and machinery installation to product development, approvals, marketing, and sales, etc.


1. Why shortage of tinplate and tin free steel occurred in India?

The Government of India’s decision to impose BIS standards on the import of tinplate and tin-free steel led to the shortage of these materials in the country

2. What are the different types of metals used in food packaging?

Various kinds of metals are used for packaging in the food industry. Some of metals used in food packaging include, aluminium, steel, tin, etc.

3. What are alternatives to metals in food packaging?

Apart from metals, other metals are also used for food packaging. Some of the alternatives to metal packaging include paper packaging, plastic packaging and glass packaging.

4. What is the investment required to start paper packaging business?

The minimum investment required to start paper packaging business ranges from 20 to 30 lakhs. Considering the investment range, it is a feasible business idea for small and medium scale industries.

5. What is the investment required to start plastic packaging business?

The minimum investment required to start plastic packaging ranges from 50-70 lakhs. It is another viable business idea for MSMEs as an alternative to metal packaging.

6. Is it safe to store fruits and vegetables in metal containers?

Yes, it is safe to store fruits, vegetables and other food products in metal containers, but not all metals. Metals such as stainless steel, tin, aluminium are used to store food. These are considered safe to store food because they do not react with food products stored in the containers.

7. Why we should use stainless steel for food storage?

Stainless doesn’t react with acidic foods present in containers. Unlike, plastic it is stainless as the name suggests. It is also recyclable. So, stainless is widely used for food storage.

8. Why food packaging is so important for public health?

Packaging ensures that food is clean and safe. If we consume unhealthy or unhygienic food, it leads to foodborne diseases. So, effective food packaging is important for public health.

9. Are steel containers good for storing food in the refrigerator?

Steel containers are safe for storing food in refrigerators, as steel doesn’t react with acidic foods. Also, it can sustain low temperatures in the refrigerator.

10. Can you recycle food packaging?

Many kinds of food packaging materials can be recycled. Some of the recyclable food packaging materials include paper, some kinds of plastics, some kinds of metals and glass.

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