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Consumers Don’t Buy Sustainable Packaging

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Consumers Don’t Buy Sustainable Packaging

Consumers Don’t Buy Sustainable Packaging
January 22
12:55 2013

Consumers don’t buy sustainable packaging’ is the hot topic being discussed by major names such as the Co-op and MMR during The BIG Packaging Debate, at PACKAGING INNOVATIONS on 27 February 2013.
The panel for the BBC Question Time-inspired session, which last year attracted a 100-strong audience, will include Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager at The Co-operative Group, who says:  “There was a lot of debate and coverage in the packaging press and the wider media on sustainable packaging last year, and I’m really keen to hear what the other panellists have to say.  I’m sure that there will be many interesting questions and a lively debate.  We believe that the most important impact that packaging can have is to reduce food waste.”

He adds: “We are committed to help our customers to waste less food, either by using the packaging to extend the life of food, or by using the packaging as a medium to clearly communicate storage information – for example, our new ‘Keep Me’ labelling.  We have also been active supporters of WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, running adverts on our extensive network of 15,000 till screens in all our 2,800 stores across the UK.”

Fellow panellist Stergios Bititsios, Associate Director-Packaging and Design at MMR Research Worldwide, is someone many world-leading brands turn to when they want to gauge the mood of consumers. He thinks shoppers may be tuned in to the environment, but they’re not necessarily ‘turned on’ by it enough to switch their buying behaviour: “From our vast experience in speaking directly with consumers on a regular basis, and as a result of our own independent research, we have found that consumers’ choices and purchase decisions are not primarily influenced by packs’ ‘green’ credentials. Although environmental factors are on consumers’ radars nowadays, they remain midfield drivers as shoppers are not yet prepared to trade other values (such as convenience) off for eco-friendliness.”

Research by easyFairs, the organisers of PACKAGING INNOVATIONS, suggests many brand managers might agree. Only 3 per cent of the 500 leading UK branding, packaging and marketing managers questioned believe a consumer’s buying behaviour is significantly influenced by the fact an item has environmentally friendly packaging. However this could be because consumers assume most packaging is already ‘green’, as 58 per cent of those studied also said environmental issues have become so mainstream that consumers now automatically assume packaging will be environmentally friendly.
Research aside, Kevin Vyse, Managing Director of The Institute of Packaging Professionals UK, who is chairing the debate, believes confusion and costs are also factors influencing consumer behaviour: “With ever increasing pressures on domestic budgets, the consumer is forced to make some stark choices. Sustainable packaging requires, in the short term, additional cost and virgin polymer material is still ridiculously good value. Asking the consumer to both understand and pay for sustainable packaging is, I fear, an uphill struggle amidst a fog of information and definitions. Maybe if packaging was championed as a resource after its primary use (and it was valued as such) then sustainability might just be a term people would start to understand.”

The BIG Packaging Debate panel, which also features Josh Brooks, Brand Director of Packaging News, will pick their way through the statistics and share their experiences as they explore what it all means for brand owners, retailers and the many companies that make up the packaging supply chain.

The debate will take place within the International Brand Summit area of the show, at 15:30 on 27 February. A drinks reception for all those visiting PACKAGING INNOVATIONS, and its co-located shows, is being held after The BIG Packaging Debate, providing an opportunity to meet the panellists and continue the discussion with colleagues, new contacts, and exhibitors.

PACKAGING INNOVATIONS takes place on 27 & 28 February 2013 at Brimingham’s NEC and is co-located with five other related shows: ECOPACK, CONTRACT PACK, PACKTECH, PRINT INNOVATIONS and, new for 2013, LABELLING INNOVATIONS. The show also features an impressive line-up of speakers in the free learnShops seminar theatres as well as interactive workshops and advice clinics.

For more information on any aspect of the show and to register for free entry to the exhibition, visit www.easyFairs.com/PIUK. For further information about exhibiting, please contact Marc Benoit on +44 (0)20 8843 8821 or email marc.benoit@easyFairs.com.

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