We are fortunate to be in an era where new and unique flavor combinations and innovative package structures are appearing on shelf that both freshen up and challenge existing flavor and style offerings. Consumers are challenging brands to eliminate unnecessary chemicals, colorants and preservatives; they are also demanding more in terms of packaging sustainability, and increasingly expect brands to demonstrate greater responsibility in reducing the impact of packaging and food waste on the environment. We, as the packaging community and brand owners, all need to demand more of ourselves in challenging existing prejudices and adopting a stronger commitment to reducing the impact of food and packaging waste.
Right Package for the Environment
Some change is immediately achievable – everyone can reduce and streamline the amount of material used in packaging and insure that materials used in packaging are as recyclable or compostable as possible. Reducing package size delivers a decrease in overall packaging material and in food waste caused by movement in product content. The less content shifts and knocks around in an over-sized package, the less potential there is for breakage. Additionally, by not forcing consumers to buy portion and package sizes that are too big you eliminate built-in waste created by discarding unused food.
Super Sized to Right Sized!
As a nation, we have gone through a period of “big”, which gave rise to the club and warehouse shopping experience. As baby boomers become empty nesters or singles, portion size and volume based on warehouse buying is increasingly irrelevant. Why should consumers have to buy packaged foods knowing that a significant portion of what they purchased could end up being discarded? I believe it is time to create an effective package sizing strategy. While there are many single or small serving packages available for a variety of products, stores tend to selectively stock them, forcing consumers by default into purchasing larger sizes of food at higher price points. Retailers need to become as mindful about creating and managing waste as packagers, by readily supporting re-evaluation of SKU management and asking for compressed packaging rather than simply managing what is made available.
CPGs Moving in the Right Direction
So much is being done to break the mold of conventional thinking about food packaging, making this is an opportune time to take a hard look at how we in the packaging industry make a commitment to lead environmentally smart, creative, right-sized packaging ideas – and work to reduce material and food waste in packaged goods. It can and is being done. Kraft has been innovative in developing packaging for selected versions of prepared salad dressings in smaller (one or two) portion package sizes. Major soft drink companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are offering individual, 8 oz. sized cans of soda as an alternative to their 12 oz. cans and 16 oz bottles. Campbell Soup is coming to shelf in small-serving, recyclable cartoned packages in addition to the large family-size packages. We need more creative and practical package solutions like these that are suited to contemporary consumers needs, deliver sustainable packaging that works to prevent and reduce excess waste, and when managed effectively, build brand strength and credibility.
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