Consumer demand for sustainability and a desire to conserve cost is helping drive the food industry’s ever-increasing interest in lightening up its packaging.
Dominic Cakebread, Director of Packaging Services at market intelligence outfit Canadean, told FoodProductionDaily.com that the American food packaging market lags behind other parts of the world but holds a significant amount of potential.
“The US is really just following common global trends,” he said. “In very general terms in the past the US market has probably been slightly behind Europe in terms of lightweighting trends and packaging.”
Going the distance
Cakebread part of the reason for the US food packaging market being a step behind on lightweighting might be because products and packaging tend to be transported over larger distances than elsewhere.
“The need for robust containers that do not get damaged in transit are higher,” he said.
However, Cakebread pointed out, “That also means in principle however that there is more room for further lightweighting reductions and new technologies, provided the integrity of the packaging is not hampered.”
One prime example of lightweighting: food firms increasingly are migrating products traditionally housed in glass to plastic alternatives. Earlier this year, Latino food firm Goya turned to packaging producer Amcor to shift its marinades from breakable glass to PET bottles and jars, citing the sustainability advantages and branding capabilities among the chief appeals.
As the global economy in the coming months, continues to creep more out of recession and consumers increase spending, Cakebread said, the demand for lighter-weight packaging should continue climbing. However, food firms and packaging partners should keep the consumer’s expectations in mind.
“Reducing container weights, and the amount of material used to create a pack and production efficiencies, can reduce costs or prevent the full impact of increases in material prices from being passed on the consumer,” he said. “However, only if these savings can be made without compromising the pack’s performance and functionality.”
Cakebread added that consumers are interested in sustainability and show interest in procuring green-minded products over less-sustainable alternatives. Again, they will not accept eco-friendly products that compromise product or pack integrity and strength.