Sustainable Packaging Gains Traction

by | Jul 7, 2009

sust-pack21A new report identifies sustainable packaging as a growing consumer issue, driven by issues such as ethics, economics and environmentalism, according to market research company Datamonitor.

Matthew Adams, consumer analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report, told Manufacturers’ Monthly: ” “Sustainable packaging has the potential to become the new breakthrough consumer issue of its time, in the same way as organic food or fair-trade products a decade or so previously.”

Of the 15 countries surveyed by Datamonitor, in the second half of 2008, the UK had the greatest proportion of survey respondents showing high levels of concern about the packaging of products in the household goods market, followed by China at 56 percent and India at 53 percent. The U.S. fell at the lower end of concern at 34 percent. Only Germany, Brazil and Russia scored lower than the U.S.

The results of the consumer survey also showed that in the U.S. 49 percent of consumers felt that packaging design has a medium or high level of influence over their choice of food and drink products. However, of this proportion, only 6 percent felt that it exerted a high level of influence on their purchases.

Datamonitor said few consumers will admit to the influence that packaging has on their decision-making process, however, increasing consumer concern about ecological matters means that packaging is an issue that is rising to prominence.

One of the most obvious methods that consumers can use to bring about change is to boycott products that do not meet their requirements or expectations.

According to the survey, consumers are starting to make their buying decisions based on concerns about excessive packaging.  In 2008, 40 percent of UK respondents agreed that they seek alternative products if they believe their first choice is packaged excessively.

This is a slightly higher proportion than in the U.S. at 35 percent but lags behind other European countries such as France, Spain and Sweden. In the Netherlands, consumers are less likely to boycott products than in the UK.

Upshot: All consumer packaged goods companies should continue to evaluate their packaging in order to align themselves with this emerging consumer trend, says Datamonitor. Sustainable packaging not only benefits the environment but also manufacturers and consumers.

The researcher adds that updating packaging can also be a more credible way to achieve cost savings rather than using methods such as “package shrink” or “portion shrink,” where a smaller amount of the product is sold at the same price.

Product packagers are getting the message. Sustainable packaging is projected to grow to 32 percent of the total global packaging market by 2014, up from just 21 percent in 2009, according to a new study from Pike Research.

And despite economic challenges, the nearly $35 billion U.S. market for food and beverage packaging, for example, has plenty of opportunities for growth in sustainable packaging options, according to a new report on paper, plastic, metal, glass and flexible packaging for the food and beverage industries.

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