25 million people have hurt themselves opening packaging in the UK and the biggest offender is the tin can, claims consumer body, Which.
Joanna Pearl, senior health researcher, Which, said three quarters of Brits think everyday packaging is harder to open than it needs to be.
According to its survey, four in 10 people have hurt themselves while trying to open packaging in the last two years with 89% using scissors, 66% knives, 8% using Stanley knives, 6% screwdrivers, razor blades (4%) and hammers (2%).
And moulded plastic packs claim nearly as many victims, as well as being the biggest cause of irritation, annoying over half of people.
Duerr’s jam jar lid is ingenious
“Manufacturers have to serve many masters: packaging has to be sustainable, safe and secure, and keep our food fresh and intact in transit and on the shelves. Perhaps it’s no wonder accessibility has taken a while to get to the top of their ‘to do’ list,” said Pearl.
As an example of companies that have ‘got it right’, the researcher said Duerr’s jam jar lid is ingenious.
“You twist an outer ring which loosens and pushes the fixed central panel away, breaking the seal. Whereas more traditional jars need strength to open them,” she added.
“But I believe packaging matters. It’s stopping a quarter of people from eating what they want, and a quarter of people regularly need help to open packaging.
More people now live alone
“More and more of us are living alone. For example, one older lady told me she has to wait for the postman to open jars and tins for her.
“Manufacturers may soon have help to commit to easier packaging, regardless of the cost. An EU testing method was launched in 2011 to help manufacturers striving to improve packaging accessibility, using test panels of older people. This should become a British standard in 2014.”
Martin Dallas, managing director, Payne packaging, agreed with the Which survey and said understanding consumer attitudes and priorities is key to developing effective products.
His company has set up a facebook campaign called Packaging Resolved to find out what people think about reclosable packs and what their favourite and worst packs are.
'Consumer choices can surprise us'
He added research suggests a third of consumers would pay more for the convenience of being able to reseal certain types of packs.
“We recognise the benefits of reclosability in terms of portion control, product protection and reduced waste,” said Dallas. “However, consumers can sometimes surprise us with the reasons for the choices they make and we want to get to the heart of what they consider to be good packaging and why.
“For example, if you buy a larger bag of confectionery, is the ability to reseal it and save it for later a reason for choosing the pack? How many people take advantage of this, and how many eat the entire contents in one go?
“On a more serious note, what types of products would consumers like to see in packs that are easier to reseal? Is being able to buy in larger sizes and save the contents important? Is this a more convenient way to shop?”
Dallas said from feedback the company had received so far, the top 10 worst packaging people cited were; take-away clamshells, cardboard boxes, trays with a lid, bag/packets, envelopes, shrink wrapping, plastic bottles, aseptic packs and cartons, boxes with ties and roll wrap.