Eco-aware shoppers increasingly opt for zero waste packaging

Eco-aware and cost-conscious consumers increasingly consider zero waste packaging as a core purchasing driver, according to new Bord Bia analysis.

Shoppers want packaging that keeps food fresh longer, thus producing less food waste. They also want to put less packaging into landfill, according to the latest consumer research.

The Bord Bia view is based upon a recent Mintel UK consumer survey entitled ‘Food & Drink Packaging Trends’, which shows that eco-friendly packaging has grown in importance in parallel with convenience trends such as ‘easy-open’ and ‘smart’ packaging.

While the survey focused on 1,600 British internet users, the survey results also offer useful guidance to Irish food producers for domestic and export markets.

Bord Bia Food & Beverage sector manager, Stephanie Moe, notes: “Food and packaging manufacturers continue to work together to introduce more environmentally-friendly packaging formats.

“A wide range of products from coffee to milk are now sold in light pouches or bags, with even minced beef now being sold similarly.

“As well as the environmental benefit, these packaging developments offer savings in transport and storage costs offered by more lightweight packaging formats,” Ms Moe said.

The Mintel report highlighted some of the main drivers and trends impacting on food packaging in Britain. Partly driven by rising waste disposal costs, consumers in Britain are increasingly conscious of their food waste.

As a result, people are shifting their priorities when it comes to food packaging, with a strong focus on seeking packaging options that help to keep products fresher for longer, thereby minimising food waste.

The Britain-based Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) reported recently that the average British family throws away £680 worth of food annually, with a total of £12bn of food going to waste in Britain each year.

In an effort to tackle this, consumers are seeking products of a size more appropriate to their needs, looking for variety of pack formats so they no longer have to throw out what they do not use.

Another packaging trend of note is ‘easy-open’. With the over-55s forecast to represent 30% of the population by 2016, packaging is starting to target this demographic, again with more suitable, generally smaller pack formats and the availability of easy-to-open jars, bottles and tubs for food.

Also increasing in popularity is the ‘clear packaging’ category. There is considerable evidence that consumers prefer clear packaging, with the ability to see the product clearly offering a reassurance of the product quality and allaying fears that a product may have superfluous packaging.

Consumers are also seeking out ‘smart’ packaging, which refers to new packaging features that go beyond changes in pack shape, colour, barcodes etc. This comprises ‘active’ and ’intelligent’ packaging.

Ms Moe says: “Advancements in active and intelligent packaging are numerous but their penetration remains limited due to their high costs and technical issues often involved in incorporating them into the production process. Examples of this would be the use of thermo-chrome inks, used in the drinks industry to show when a product is at the correct temperature for consumption ( for example Coors beer bottles).


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