Aluminium and aluminium-containing packaging is used for foodstuffs and alcohol and tobacco because it has so many material properties that fulfil the requirements of good food packaging. Aluminium is:
- impermeable to liquids and gases (important for protecting foodstuffs like coffee that are sensitive to oxygen)
- opaque (important for protecting light-sensitive substances such as cream and chocolate) " tasteless and resistant to the ingress of odours
- corrosion resistant and poses no risk to health
- easy to process thanks to its good formability (ductility)
- easily sterilisable ("retortable"), for example for foodstuffs and pet food.
Chocolate was packaged in aluminium foil for the first time in 1911, displacing the heavier tin foil. Tube has been produced on a large scale since 1919 and beverage cans have been made from aluminium since the 1960s.
Today, packaging made out of and with aluminium is used for a wide range of foodstuffs and alcohol and tobacco:
- cans, for beverages, aerosol sprays, spices and foodstuffs
- drinks bottles
- foil, which can be plain, printed or coated (flexible composite packaging materials)
- tubes for cigars and dietary supplements
- composite cans for coffee, tea and cocoa (mainly made from composite packaging materials)
- trays for ready meals and pet food
- portion packs for meat and liver pâtés, coffee cream and condensed milk, jam and sausages
- tubes for foodstuffs in liquid and paste form, such as tomato purée
- closures for bottles and glass jars
- stand-up pouches, for example for soups and sauces.