Unit dose packaging: advantages and disadvantages

March 16, 2022

Unit dose packaging is everywhere, including restaurants (sugar, preserves and condiments), supermarkets, pharmacies and cosmetics shops. These packets provide a convenient, single-size portion of the particular product in question.  

Unit dose packaging has several advantages over other forms of storing, packaging and distributing products, for both businesses and consumers. 

It’s a great strategy for increasing market penetration and gauging consumer preferences. 

For consumers, unit dose packaging is synonymous with convenience, portability and less waste.


  • Powdered drinks. The contents – such as instant coffee – can be easily emptied into a cup or a water bottle. 
  • Infant formula Unit dose packaging enables the product to be distributed in ready-to-use, precise amounts. This is a boon for parents with very young children. 
  • Pharmaceutical products. Medicines and other pharmaceutical items are ideal for this type of packaging. Its ease of use and dosing precision offers several benefits, among them reduced waste – the product can be opened when needed and the rest kept for a later time. The use of individual packets makes it easy for consumers to ensure they take the right dose. 
  • Sugar, spices and sauces. These are among the most common products packaged in this way. Consumers enjoy the portability of unit dose packaging, and for businesses it’s an opportunity to meet consumers’ needs and embrace new consumption trends. Unit dose packaging is a more hygienic way of serving granulated products (sugar, sugar substitutes, salt, etc.) or liquids (sauces and condiments such as condensed milk, ketchup, mustard, vinegars, oil, mayonnaise, etc.)  In the case of liquids, ready-packaged single servings are easier to consume when out and about (at work, travelling, etc.). In fact, they can be carried and consumed just about anywhere.
  • Samples. Marketing pros love unit dose packaging because it’s the perfect vehicle for penetrating the food, health and beauty, and personal care markets. 
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There are several benefits to using unit dose packaging: 

  1. Hygiene. The product is guaranteed to be untampered with and in perfect condition.
  2. Preservation. Quality and freshness are maintained, and the shelf life of food, drinks and other products is prolonged.
  3. Convenience. The packets are light and easy to transport and open. What’s more, it’s easy to control how much we use or consume. This is paramount when it comes to medicine, for example. 
  4. Savings. Accurate dosing becomes easier and waste is reduced as a result. 
  5. Storage. Take the product anywhere and store it wherever required. It’s also a great way to distribute and export products.  

In terms of the disadvantages of single use plastic packaging, there’s no denying that it generates more packaging waste. 

The smaller size of the packaging also means higher production costs, resulting in slightly higher cost to consumers. 



Unit dose packaging is a type of primary packaging. That is, it has direct contact with the product and has to keep it in optimal condition. 

There are three main categories: 

  • 3-weld flat pouches

These hermetically-sealed packages are typically used for powdered medicines but are also suitable for viscous products (e.g. ketchup) or self-care items impregnated with liquid, such as wet wipes. 3-weld pouches are also used to package promotional items distributed with magazines or newspapers.

  • Stick packs (VFFS/HFFS)

The versatility of these tubular packets makes them the most common unit dose packaging choice for food, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics or chemical products. There are stick packs of all sizes to suit the product or the dose. 

  • Trays with lids

Typical examples include single-serving oil tubs or individual ready meal trays. Used across the food industry, trays with lids are particularly suitable for liquids and sauces. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are transparent to display the product inside.

3-weld flat pouches,  stick packs and trays with lids are manufactured in a range of materials including paper and plastic. 

Since unit dose packages are not sold separately to the end customer, they require secondary packaging for transport and in-store display. 

Whatever your final choice, SP Group will help you find the best option for your company’s needs and can advise on materials, printing systems and sustainability. Get in touch to talk to one of our experts. 

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At SP Group we optimise our production processes to provide the most efficient service to large industry. Many multinational companies already trust our ability to meet their flexible packaging needs on a daily basis.
If you would like to know how your company can benefit from our services, send us your details and one of our sales advisors will contact you. Or, if you prefer, consult the contact details of your area representative.