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Purpose - This paper aims to examine salient issues in the packaged food business with special focus on packaging and its crucial role covering food marketing, best practices in the food and drinks industry, product innovation, food safety and quality, food supply chain management and emerging trends. Design/methodology/approach - Phenomenological research has raised awareness and increased insight into critical issues in the packaged food business. The approach is based on observation of the business environment, online research, a close watch on British food industry, analysis of papers in journals, and brainstorming with co-researchers for four years. Findings - The research has found that the key trends fostering growth in developed packaged food markets are convenience, functionality and indulgence. The real value of packaging is that the package is an integral part of the product today. Besides, food products frequently require the general marketing approaches and techniques applied to the marketing of other kinds of products and services. In addition, for the food industry to improve further, it needs to adopt the best practices shown in this research paper. Moreover, while going for product innovation, some critical success factors must be taken into account. Furthermore, the objective of all quality assurance systems exercised by food manufacturers and processors, is to produce safe products that comply with manufacturers' specifications, including the requirements established by governments. On top of that, the companies that are the most progressive in the management of the supply chain are expected to be the most successful and profitable. Last, but not least, companies should look forward to emerging trends for business success. All these critical issues must be observed in a packaged food business for superior performance. Research limitations/implications - Company surveys have not been performed due to the limited access of the research to well-developed Western food markets. Hence, company surveys may be the next step to further identify critical issues in the packaged food business from the perspective of existing corporations. Originality/value - This paper offers a holistic view that would guide a reader to identify critical issues in packaged food in existing or new businesses.