Consumers have raised significant concerns about plastic food packaging in response to a survey covering the US, India and Sweden conducted by Innventia.
Given a choice of seven packaging materials including glass and aluminium, most respondents to the survey singled out plastic as the substance they regarded as the least environmentally friendly.
Almost two thirds of those in Sweden, more than six out of 10 in India and virtually half of those in the US stated this in the Packaging 2020 Global outlook report.
Consumers in India seemed especially sensitive to packaging issues, with almost seven in 10 survey participants claiming to have felt bad about throwing away plastic bottles. And more than seven out of 10 said they tried to refrain from buying products if they were wrapped in plastic packaging.
Turning to the functions of packaging, consumers polled indicated the greatest demand for packaging that could flag up food spoilage as it occurred, rather than just bearing a date stamp. More than half of those in Sweden and the US indicated this was their view.
A total of 47% from India held the same viewpoint, with slightly more – exactly half – desiring packaging that kept food fresh for longer, so still showing concerns about spoilage.
Indeed, in India, a significantly greater proportion of consumers than in the US and Sweden – more than half – said they worried the fresh food they bought might be spoiled or unhygienic.
Temperature, damage, distance travelled
Respondents also showed substantial demand for packaging to show how product temperature had changed over time, whether the product had been damaged in transit, its origin and how far it had travelled.
Well over half those surveyed in the three regions said they were very or rather interested in scanning products in stores to discover details including origin, distance travelled and contents.
The top source of packaging hassles cited by 55% of those in the US and 68% of those in Sweden was difficulty in opening packs. In India, just over half reported their top hassle as pack leakage.
“We’re seeing purchasing decisions being guided by the packaging material itself, not just the appearance of the packaging,” said Fredrik Rosen, manager of Innventia’s market and consumer group. “We’re also seeing a clear demand and a great need for smarter packaging.”