Packet containing a dishwasher tablet

A packet or sachet is a small bag or pouch, made from paper, foil, plastic film or another type of packing material, often used to contain single-use quantities of foods or consumer goods such as ketchup or shampoo. Packets are commonly opened by making a small rip or tear in part of the package, and then squeezing out the contents.


Condiments distributed in packets include ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad cream, HP sauce, relish, tartar sauce, vinegar and soy sauce. They provide a simple and low-cost way of distributing small amounts of condiment with ready-to-eat packaged food such as hot dogs, French fries, or hamburgers, and are common in fast food restaurants. The packets produce less contamination and mess than freely available condiments dispensed into small disposable cups or other containers, especially if the food will be in transit before dining. Potpourri fragrances are also sold in sachets. Potpourri sachet envelopes are filled with scented herbs and flowers or use vermiculite containing aromatic fragrance oil. These are known as potpourri wardrobe sachets. In Argentina and Uruguay, milk and yogurts are also sold in packets.

In 1983, the Indian company Cavin Kare began selling shampoo in small plastic packets instead of large bottles in order to make it more affordable to the poor.[1] Sale of small amounts of shampoo and detergents in plastic packets is very popular throughout the Philippines, India and other Eastern countries.[2] In 2011, 87% of shampoo sold in India was in sachets.[3]

Porous pouch

Chlorine dioxide pouches placed inside fruit-packing boxes kill pathogens but don’t damage fruit. [4]

Some packets are made of materials with known porosity to allow vapors from the pouch to escape. These pouches, also called sachets, can be placed in other packages to help control the atmosphere. Uses include: volatile corrosion inhibitors, desiccants, oxygen scavengers, etc.


Benjamin Eisenstadt invented a machine that produced the modern sugar packet after a failed endeavor to package and sell tea bags, later packaging other items, including sauces.[5]


The Sanford Redmond designed the no mess dispenSRpak for one handed operation. Introduced into Australia in 1990, it is used in other countries, but the design has not been widely licensed in the USA.[6][7][8][9]

In 2010, the H. J. Heinz Company designed a new ketchup packet. The new design was made with a cup and easy tear, thus making it easier to dip food without a plate along with holding three times as much ketchup.[10][11] It has not been widely adopted.[5]

Water sachets

A woman drinking from a plastic sachet.

Water sachets or sachet water is a common form of selling pre-filtered or sanitized water in plastic, heat sealed bags in parts of the global south, and are especially popular in Africa.[12] Water sachets are cheaper to produce than plastic bottles, and easier to transport.[13] In some countries, water vendors refer to sachet water as "pure water".[14][15][16]

High demand, and poor collection of waste from consumers, has resulted in significant plastic pollution and waste from sachets throughout the West Africa.[12][14] Accumulation of sachets frequently causes blocked stormwater drainage, and other issues.[14] Some countries, such as Senegal, have banned disposable sachets.[12]

Because sachets are frequently filled in small and often unregulated facilities, inadequate sanitary conditions can occasionally result in disease or contamination.[17][13] However, in countries like Ghana consumers still prefer that access over other forms of venders, with a perception of lower risk.[13] This form of water distribution provides vital access to water in communities that otherwise wouldn't have it. However, some scholars have identified this method of distribution as having potential human rights and social justice issues, limiting the right to water and sanitation.[13][18]


In Collinsville, Illinois, the largest ketchup packet was created by H. J. Heinz Company for a fundraiser for the Collinsville Christian Academy. People could buy a bottle of ketchup for $1 to add to the ketchup packet. After it was filled, it weighed 1,500 lbs. and it was 8 ft × 4 ft (2.4 m × 1.2 m) across and 9.5 in (240 mm) thick.[19][20]

Annual production of ketchup packets by Heinz alone is 11 billion.[21]


Plastic sachets are a major contributor to litter and pollution, especially in low-income countries where many more household goods are sold in sachets in small quantities.

In June 2022, a Reuters report revealed that Unilever had lobbied the governments of India and the Philippines to stop legislation which would ban the sale of cosmetics in single-use plastic sachets, despite vowing in 2020 to stop using them.[22] The design of these sachets had been called 'evil' by Hanneke Faber, Unilever's President for Global Food and Refreshments, 'because you cannot recycle it'. The bans were then dropped by lawmakers. In Sri Lanka, the company pressed the government to reconsider a proposed ban on sachets, and then tried to manoeuvre around the ban after regulations were implemented. Unilever sells 40 billion plastic sachets each year.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "The inspiring success story of CavinKare". Rediff-India. 22 March 2007.
  2. ^ "Packaging preferences". Archived from the original on 2012-03-01.
  3. ^ "Now aiming at the high end". Business Today. India. 30 October 2011.
  4. ^ OBrian, D (2017). "Chlorine Dioxide Pouches Can Make Produce Safer and Reduce Spoilage". AgResearch Magazine (July). USDA Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Why are ketchup packets so... unsatisfying?". Archived from the original on 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  6. ^ "Sanford Redmond". Sanford Redmond. Archived from the original on 2013-04-21. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  7. ^ Hesser, Amanda (2000-07-30). "BUSINESS; Man Behind the Butter Pat Now Lets You Hold the Mayo, One-Handed". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "91/50 Packaging, (2), food, tomato sauce, plastic, 'Masterfoods Squeeze Mate', Australia, made by Conoflex packagiing, designed by Sanford Redmond, 1990 - Powerhouse Museum Collection". 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  9. ^ Martin, Douglas (1989-12-16). "About New York; Of Metaphysics And the Making Of Useful Things". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "New Ketchup Packet Allows for Dunking or Squeezing". ABC News. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  11. ^ "Old Ketchup Packet Heads for Trash". 19 September 2011.
  12. ^ a b c Lerner, Sharon (2020-04-19). "Africa's Exploding Plastic Nightmare: As Africa Drowns in Garbage, the Plastics Business Keeps Booming". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 2022-03-06. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  13. ^ a b c d Stoler, Justin; Weeks, John R.; Fink, Günther (2012). "Sachet drinking water in Ghana's Accra-Tema metropolitan area: past, present, and future". Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. 2 (4): 10.2166/washdev.2012.104. doi:10.2166/washdev.2012.104. ISSN 2043-9083. PMC 3842094. PMID 24294481.
  14. ^ a b c Stoler, Justin (2012-10-11). "Improved but unsustainable: accounting for sachet water in post-2015 goals for global safe water". Tropical Medicine & International Health. 17 (12): 1506–1508. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2012.03099.x. ISSN 1360-2276. PMID 23051893. S2CID 205392805.
  15. ^ "Why pure water prices dey rise across Nigeria?". BBC News Pidgin. Archived from the original on 2022-03-29. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  16. ^ Keough, Sara Beth; Youngstedt, Scott M. (2018-01-09). "'Pure water' in Niamey, Niger: the backstory of sachet water in a landscape of waste". Africa. 88 (1): 38–62. doi:10.1017/S0001972017000560. ISSN 0001-9720. S2CID 149122566.
  17. ^ Fisher, Michael B.; Williams, Ashley R.; Jalloh, Mohamed F.; Saquee, George; Bain, Robert E. S.; Bartram, Jamie K. (2015-07-10). "Microbiological and Chemical Quality of Packaged Sachet Water and Household Stored Drinking Water in Freetown, Sierra Leone". PLOS ONE. 10 (7): e0131772. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1031772F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131772. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4498897. PMID 26162082.
  18. ^ Morinville, Cynthia (2017-09-11). "Sachet water: regulation and implications for access and equity in Accra, Ghana". WIREs Water. 4 (6). doi:10.1002/wat2.1244. ISSN 2049-1948. S2CID 168637685. Archived from the original on 2022-03-06. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  19. ^ "Heinz Ketchup Packet to Squeeze Into Guinness Book History", Business Wire, July 27, 2007
  20. ^ "Ill. town creates record ketchup packet". Usatoday.Com. 2007-07-28. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  21. ^ "Trivia". Heinz. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  22. ^ a b Brock, Joe; Geddie, John (22 June 2022). "Unilever's Plastic Playbook". Reuters. Retrieved 23 June 2022.

Further reading