Sustainable Packaging – The New Frontier!
Today, the food sector is in the midst of a dramatic transformation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. More and more consumers are either 1. Shopping online or 2. Taking fewer trips to the grocery store each week. In either case, product packaging plays a key role in the brand’s success given 1. Consumers are bombarded with thousands of products to choose from and 2. Consumers have an attention span of eight seconds according to a Microsoft study in 2020. But what if a brand created a new packaging concept that 1. Provided the brand with a point of differential, 2. Caught the attention of the consumer. Certain brands are starting to do just that. For instance, a chocolate company in Peru in which their packaging is made from plant seeds, and when you plant a piece of the packaging it will grow into a plant.
Welcome to Sustainable Packaging – The New Frontier!
So, what is sustainable packaging and why is it so important? “Sustainable packaging refers to the sourcing, development, and use of packaging solutions that have minimal environmental impact and footprint. Simply put, sustainable packaging is earth-friendly and doesn’t contribute to the further depletion of natural resources.” As for why? “The United Nations points out that should the world’s population reach 9.6B by the year 2050, we’d need the equivalent of almost 3 planets to sustain current lifestyles.” “Since we only have one livable planet, everyone has to play a part in preserving the environment.” [i]
Today, implementing eco packaging in your brand’s operations is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Despite the pressures of the pandemic, sustainable packaging has emerged as top priority for consumers. A 2020 Study from Shorr Packaging revealed:
- Two-thirds of shoppers who have made changes in their purchasing behaviours during the pandemic are paying more attention to packaging.
- 58% reported being “likely” or “very likely” to select products that use recyclable or reusable packaging.
- Millennials are more likely to purchase sustainable packaging, Gen Z emerging as a generation that is willing to spend more for products that meet their sustainability demands.[ii]
A most recent study undertaken by Trivium Packaging as part of their 2021 Global Buying Green Report revealed:
- 67% of consumers consider it important that the products they purchase are in recyclable packaging.
- More than half (54%) take sustainability packaging into consideration when selecting a product.[iii]
A study that was undertaken by IBM and the National Retail Federation revealed:
- Nearly six in ten consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact.
- Nearly eight in ten respondents indicate sustainability is important for them.
- Those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70% would pay a premium of 35% on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.
While Millennials may be leading the charge in sustainable awareness, each age group indicates that sustainability / environmentally responsible are significant considerations in selecting products they purchase as outlined in Table 1.
Importance of Product Attributes When Making a Purchase[iv]
|Gen Z||Millennials||Gen X||Boomers|
|Sustainable / Environmentally Responsible||75%||79%||77%||75%|
|Health and wellness benefits||79%||80%||78%||74%|
|Natural / organic ingredients||71%||76%||73%||67%|
This trend has been at the forefront of consumers’ minds in recent years. Societal concern over waste, climate change, and reducing one’s carbon footprint have led several brands across various segments to swap out their existing packaging for more sustainable options.
Two such examples include:
- Corona unveils sustainable packaging that repurposes barley straw into packaging material for their six-packs.
- Mars Wrigley will roll out in late 201, early 2022 biodegradable candy wrappers for skittles.
Those brands are on the right side with consumers as 61% indicate they will switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly than their current brand.[v] Those brands that fail to adhere to this new packaging standard will be the ones on the outside looking in.