National Operations Packaging Sustainability

Shoppers Increasingly Looking For Recyclable, Renewable Packaging

Hands holding up recyclables

Evergreen Packaging, a fiber-based packaging solutions company, has released a report based on data from the annual EcoFocus Trend Study, which forecasts key trends that will shape the U.S. food and beverage industries in the year ahead.

Now in its ninth year, the EcoFocus Trend Study examines how consumer attitudes, actions, preferences and values are reshaping grocery purchasing decisions. The study identifies Responsible Packaging Shoppers (RPS) as an emerging, trend-setting segment of shoppers.

“The critical take away from the latest study and report is that there is a growing consumer group that is consciously making their purchasing decision based on packaging material, its perceived recyclability and corporate commitments to sustainability. Through our work with EcoFocus Worldwide we are able to help our customers stay ahead of the most important trends and to make decisions based not only on the customer of today, but the customer of tomorrow as well,” said DeWitt Clark, Evergreen VP of sales and marketing, North American packaging. “Without a doubt, the consumer expectations we are seeing now will have a lasting impact on the shopping experience and the packaging expectations for many years to come. It is vital information for any leader in food and beverage sales at the grocery level.”

Of the general grocery shopper population in 2018, RPS now make up 59 percent, which has grown 16 percentage points from 43 percent since 2013.

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For this group of shoppers, recyclable and renewable are the cornerstones for responsible packaging. The importance of packaging becomes even more prevalent when buying healthy foods and beverages. RPS want packaging that aligns with perceptions of the contents: healthy packaging for healthy foods and beverages, and recyclable packaging for natural and organics.

Beyond the benefits of renewable and recyclable, RPS believe packaging should protect freshness without preservatives, and protect the product from light to protect taste and nutrients. These shoppers also consider the environmental impact of packaging when buying products.

The perceptions about responsible packaging among the RPS consumer segment extend all the way up the responsibility ladder to the corporation itself. Corporate commitments to only using packaging that is recyclable or made with recycled or renewable materials positively influence choices for RPS, and commitments to plant-based packaging are influential for most of the RPS segment. This growing segment is 31 percent more likely than grocery shoppers overall to consider the recyclable label important when shopping.

More than three out of four RPS report that they have already made changes in what they buy to reduce their exposure to chemicals from food and beverage packaging. More than six in 10 have concerns about the safety of plastic and Bisphenol A (BPA) in food and beverage packaging. These shoppers want to learn more about plant-based food and beverage packaging and plastic-free aisles in supermarkets.

“The study clearly shows that the audience of shoppers who cares about responsibly packaged products is growing and evolving in their expectations. These Responsible Packaging Shoppers are linking the product and the package as having a combined influence on their product and brand perceptions and ultimately on their purchasing decision,” said Linda Gilbert, study author and CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide. “This is an opportunity for food and beverage brands and for grocery store brands alike—the package matters.”

The full white paper detailing the Responsible Shopper Segment is available for free download here.


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