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Tetra Pak pledges to ‘accelerate’ green product innovation

By Ben Bouckley , 20-Sep-2011

Tetra Pak has pledged to accelerate green product innovation after an environmental report commissioned by the company showed that consumers want well-priced eco-friendly packaging.

A spokeswoman for the global processing and packaging firm told BeverageDaily.com that its ‘Global Packaging Report 2011’, compiled by Euromonitor International, conveyed key consumer feedback.

As well as assessing industry responses to packagining, the report contained responses from 500 to 1,000 consumers in each participant country conducted throughout December and January: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Turkey, the UK and US.

The spokeswoman said: “For us the message is clear. We must accelerate green product innovation to develop greener packages that offer the convenience and quality of traditional packaging at a competitive cost.”

“Consumers want to buy green, but they want affordable green products,” the spokeswoman said, adding that 83 per cent of food manufacturers and retailers surveyed in 2011 also said they considered environmental impact when choosing beverage packaging.

“Therefore, our R&D efforts are focused on developing greener processing and packaging solutions at competitive prices that consumers can afford,” she added.

Consumer price scepticism

Data in the report suggested that EU consumers were sceptical about lower or at least consistent prices for green packaging compared with standard products.

But the Tetra Pak spokeswoman said a “small but growing number of consumers, 28 per cent in our last survey, are prepared to pay more for environmentally efficient products”.

Since it began surveying consumers in 2005, Tetra Pak said it had learnt that consumers wanted to buy green packaging without compromising on cost and quality.

“That’s why we are accelerating innovation across the supply chain to deliver products that are competitive on cost, quality and environmental performance,” she added.

Key indicators in this respect included Tetra Pak cutting its energy usage, saving water and energy and increasing the renewable content of its packaging, which was “now at an average of 73 to 100 per cent,” the spokeswoman said.

Nonetheless, according to the research, over 40 per cent cited 'convenience' as a key factor in juice pack preference, while 'product features' also led the way (15 per cent) in terms of consumer preference.

But Tetra Pak insisted that environmental concerns (13 per cent) were playing an increasingly important role in the purchasing process.

Cartons find EU favour

The spokeswoman noted that environmental pollution ranked 5th amongst the top 20 concerns amongst global consumers, according to GfK Roper Consulting’s 2011 'Mood of the World' report.

This was based on a global survey of more than 32,000 consumers aged 15 and older across 25 countries.

One interesting statistic in the Euromonitor-commissioned report showed that only 35 per cent of UK consumers thought cartons were ‘less harmful’ to the environment (choosing 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale) compared with other packaging types.

This was a low figure in comparison with France (72 per cent) and Germany (62 per cent), where consumers assessed cartons more favourably.

So as a major carton producer, did Tetra Pak have any theories as to why this was the case? In the UK, plastic containers are more widely used for milk and juice products than cartons,” the spokeswoman said.

She added: “The lack of exposure to cartons and the perception that glass is better for the environment has contributed towards differing perceptions between UK and EU consumers. Where cartons are widely used, they are considered the best environmental packaging.”

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