Education needed as consumers snub longer-life packaging

Retailers and manufacturers need to do more to educate consumers on the important role packaging can play to reduce food waste.

Despite packaging innovation to extend in-home life, such as the use of intelligent materials, vacuum-packing and more recloseable packs, most consumers still believe that keeping food in packaging at home leads to it spoiling more quickly

Research launched today reveals that there is public recognition that packaging is important to protect food on its way to, and in, the store, but only 13% of consumers believe that it can play the same role in the home.

The report Consumer Attitudes to Food Waste and Food Packaging was produced by WRAP in partnership with the Packaging Federation INCPEN, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Kent Waste Partnership and British Retail Consortium (BRC).

It urges food retailers, manufactures and their trade associations to raise awareness with consumers about the existing innovations in packaging, food labelling, and design and how to keep food fresher for longer.

The research found that, after price, freshness and food longevity are the most important factors for consumers. However, throwing away food as a result of it not being used in time is costing UK consumers £6.7bn a year.

In addition, WRAP claims that many consumers are storing foods in less than ideal conditions with the research revealing that only 22% look at storage guidance on packaging.

To tackle the issue, the group behind the research are backing a new initiative 'Fresher for Longer' as part of WRAP'S Love Food Hate Waste public awareness campaign launched in 2007.

Marks & Spencer's Plan A head of delivery Adam Elman said that by reducing the amount of packaging M&S used, and by ensuring it was easily recyclable, the company was making it easier for its customers to live more sustainably.

Last year M&S launched product trials of a packaging strip that absorbs ethylene, the hormone that causes fruit to ripen and turn mouldy. 

Following this, amid growing competition by the major food retailers to optimise food packaging, ASDA trialled an innovative 'traffic light' labelling system for avocadoes to help prevent food waste while Tesco piloted a new film claiming it could double the amount of time fruit and vegetables stayed fresh.  

British Retail Consortium's Alice Ellison said she hoped the research would help to end the "demonisation" of packaging.

"Grocery retailers have already achieved notable reductions in food and packaging waste through working with WRAP on the Courtauld Commitment targets and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. This report should stimulate further reductions in food waste by promoting the role that packaging plays in keeping food fresher for longer in the home," she said.

Conor McGlone


| Food waste | packaging | retail | WRAP


Waste & resource management
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