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Bethan Wilkins

Analyst

AHDB Pork Market Intelligence

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Will a pledge against plastic change how food gets wrapped up?

Home \ Prices & Stats \ News \ 2018 \ February \ Will a pledge against plastic change how food gets wrapped up?

Innovation in food packaging formats continues to expand usefulness and improve the ability for consumers to engage with products.

The Government announcement pledging to eliminate the use of avoidable plastic waste by 2042 is likely to have an impact on attitudes to the materials used and waste generated. So how might packaging change and what food products may benefit from innovation?

With increasing choice available in store, innovative packaging can provide new ways to connect with the consumer.Foresight Factory cites Kettle Chips ‘Tater Tracker’ as an example, where consumers can type in an on-pack code to find out about the farm on which the potatoes used for their crisps were grown. However, although this type of information may be interesting, IGD ShopperVista research shows that, generally, ethical concerns and origin information are of lower importance in a shopper’s ultimate purchase decision, and it is quality and price that dominate this. However, this does vary by category, with origin being more important for world foods, wine and fresh red meat.

Advances in packaging technology can also be used to communicate product quality. GlobalData has identified smart packaging technologies, which can reflect a change in product freshness. In July 2017, Sainsbury’s began to trial these labels on cooked ham products as part of their waste reduction strategy.

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The Government’s 25-year environment plan outlines an aim to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. Some companies have already made announcements along these lines. The Grocer reports that Cranswick has announced that all of its packaging will be 100 per cent recyclable by 2025 and that it will cut its plastic waste by half over the next seven years, stating that it recognises its role to be an industry leader in this area. 

Packaging has multiple purposes and has been instrumental in improving food safety and helping to reduce food waste. Innovation that improves the capability of packing to communicate information about the food it protects and how brands engage with consumers is likely to become increasingly popular. More focus on sustainability and, in particular, reducing plastic waste may promote reform in the types of material used to package food, but perhaps we will first see a reduction in the volume of non-essential plastic packaging rather than a shift away from plastic use entirely.

To read more about packaging, click here.

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Emily Beardshaw, Consumer Insight Analyst

Emily.Beardshaw@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8756