Deciding How to Wrap a Product


Once you know you need to wrap a product, you need to decide how to wrap the product. You need to weigh the appearance, product protection and costs of your options. In all cases we are talking about consumer products needing to be wrapped for one reason or another.

Factors to consider:

  • Appearance: What does your customer want to know about your product from its packaged appearance? Consumers hate over packaging but want attractive, protected products.
  • Product Protection: Is your product packaging tamper-evident? Is it protected so that it maintains its key attributes while waiting for the consumer to take it home? Can you open it?
  • Cost: How much does your packaging cost your company in time, labor, materials and machinery? It is not just one of these costs but all combined that make the difference.
  • Societal Cost: Do you or your customer care about aftermarket costs of disposal of the packaging? How will you convey the message if you do?

You can pick from different methods of wrapping and then, within those, there are various alternative styles and looks.  It really depends on your product. There are high quality outcomes and lesser outcomes for all of these forms of wrapping in terms of appearance, protection and cost. Some are impacted by the choice of material and some by the way it is accomplished.

Weighing the differences in the broad categories

marshmallow tray comparison shrink vs .overwrapsnack pack overwrap vs flowwrapscotch tape bundle overwrap

Shrink wrap



AppearanceClear PE film covers the product. Handles odd shapes better than anything elseUneven film thickness of film due to shrink. Seam can be rough. Printed film may not work well do to uneven shrink
Protectiontamper barrierCan have holes in the seams, so not good barrier to air or water
CostHandles a variety of SKUs for short runs very effectively20% excess film that is cut off or shrunk.Energy costs are highest.

Common applications: low volume products, oddly shaped products, food, cosmetics, office supplies

Flow Wrap



AppearanceCan use clear and printed BOPP film.Tails and a long seam that stick out.
ProtectionProvides a complete barrier seal to maximize product longevity.none
CostCan handle some variation in product sizing.  Can handle cylinders or plastic traysUses more film than other wrap processes. Takes up more space in secondary packaging as a result.

Common Applications: foods with nuts or fruit in them, snacks, candy




AppearanceCan use clear or printed BOPP film with tightest fit. Provides the highest end wrap look. Can use paper or waxed paper as well as film to wrap.none
ProtectionTamper evidence, Can be equipped with tear tape for easy openNot as good as flowwrap but better than shrink at product protection
CostUses least amount of film and/or energyRequires consistency of product dimensions

Common applications: higher end looking products, including perfume, cosmetics, food, candy, office supplies, games, paper products

There are high and low end alternatives in each category. The quality and barrier resistance of film varies depending on composition and coatings.  Gauge or thickness of the material, matte or shiny surface – all these factors impact appearance and performance of the wrapping.

For most applications there are bio-based or compostable materials available in addition to petro-based films to wrap a product, but petro-based films are less expensive to purchase.

For more information on the differences, look at this on Wrap Styles.

For more information on film options, look here.

Next up is what machinery factors to consider. And, yes, we have our biases.

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