Bangalore Tells the History of Product Packaging

A museum in Bangalore showcases 250 pieces of vintage packaging and memorabilia, including antiques made in wood, tin, aluminium and other materials.
29 June, 2017
One of India's biggest packaging companies is Manjushree Technopack, which provides plastic packaging to all kinds of global brands including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and beverage brands in 15 different countries.
But it turns out that CEO and managing director Vimal Kedia has a soft spot for all kinds of packaging, and for years he collected product containers when he'd come across them. Ultimately, his treasures became a nostalgic display when the company launched a museum to showcase them back in 2003.

"I always had a fancy for antique items and I would collect old packaging items that I would stock in a cupboard in the office," Kedia says in a recent interview. "As the collection grew, we decided to have a proper display of the products and we had our interior designer create the museum to house them."
Image: AFOOT
After that, he said, Manjushree Technopack added more items and asked customers to send them old packaging materials. They did, expanding on a collection that includes old Hershey's cocoa tins, wine bottles and soda pop cans, biscuit tins, cigar boxes, gramophone record covers, even an antique radio.

There's an aluminium tiffin carrier, which are widely used as lunchboxes in India and other parts of Asia. Tiffin is the word, reportedly derived from British influences, for the light midday meal, but the bowls stack to keep the meal courses separate rather than the single-space box more common in the West. Tiffin carriers are still used today, as are the Japanese-inspired bento boxes. Other items found in the museum include glass perfume bottles, chocolate tins, velvet-lined boxes, and oil and paint cans.
Visitors find the nostalgia appealing as they reminisce over brands they recall from years gone by, but they're also engaged in the history of packaging technologies and how it shapes consumer preferences.

Kedia laments that these days, most customers welcome the convenience of packaging but don't pay much attention to it after choosing or consuming a product. There may be some truth to that, when compared with packaging of decades ago that tended to be more durable and was marketed and sold with the continued usefulness of the container in mind. Yet it might also be argued that today's shopper is returning to a time and place when that thoughtful packaging – with an eye toward its future uses in the home or shop – was just good business sense. It's one reason why many companies are shifting to aluminium, although both Coca Cola and Pepsi have sold their products in aluminium cans since 1967.
Image: Twitter
Fifty years later, while there are a few of those cans in Kedia's museum, they remain popular today for their convenience and portability as well as their environmentally friendly materials. In the United Kingdom, the recycling rate hit 70 percent in 2016, according to numbers released by Alupro in May. As more people develop their awareness about climate and making sustainable choices, aluminium has emerged as an attractive packaging choice for sparkling water, coffee, food, wines and other products.

The demand for packaging that can be repurposed also has returned, as more consumers seek to reduce the waste they create. The cigar boxes that became the button and sewing kits of yesteryear, and the baby food jars that held nails and screws in the workshop, aren't just artifacts in Kedia's museum. They point the way from the past to new packaging solutions that become a part of sustainable living in the future.
Banner image: Vaastuyogam