A global research study has revealed that food safety and sustainable packaging are major issues for society. More than two-thirds of respondents listed food safety as their top concern, just ahead of environmental sustainability.
Concern for the environment remains strikingly powerful, pointing to the dilemma in consumers’ minds as they seek to balance the critical priorities of human existence through safe food with the sustainability of food packaging entering the the planet’s waste stream.
The Tetra Pak Index, in its 13th edition, has seen in just one year a ten percentage point leap in global concern about food safety and future food supplies, from 30% in 2019 to 40%.
In addition, more than 50% of consumers regard improving food safety as being the single biggest responsibility of manufacturers.
According to this year’s research, health is deeply connected to heightened issues of food safety, hygiene and packaging: with 60% of consumers globally expressing concern that the food they buy is hygienic and safe.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo, accelerated trends, and created a new landscape of consumer needs and opportunities for companies to build on. In particular, the industry needs to address the growing dilemma around food safety and the environment, stepping up towards the twin goals of meeting the human need for food while protecting our planet’s ecosystem. This is where food packaging can play a strong role in bringing about harmony.
Stefan Fageräng, Managing Director of Tetra Pak South Africa, comments:
“Working closely with our customers and stakeholders, we are already on a journey to create the ultimate sustainable food package – a carton package that is made solely from responsibly sourced renewable or recycled materials, is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral, allowing ambient distribution and meeting food safety requirements. We see this as a critical step in building a sustainable future for the next generation, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19.”
“This full-chain approach involves various initiatives from the industry, from increasing the use of renewable electricity in factories and improving the operations of equipment at manufacturing sites, through to increasing energy efficiency and reducing water consumption.” He added, “By incorporating this approach in packaging production methods and reducing the environmental effects of operations, the industry can turn a circular economy into low-carbon business opportunities.”
The 2020 Tetra Pak Index highlights that packaging entering waste streams is not the only environmental concern, but also food waste. Consumers cite food waste reduction as a top environmental issue that they themselves can have major influence over. However, confusing labelling is a barrier, offering brands a chance for better communication.
Francesca Francione, Business Insights and Analytics Manager at Tetra Pak, preventing food waste is also an area where consumers feel they can make a positive difference. When asked which global issues they believed they could have an impact on as individuals, 47% chose “preventing food waste.” As a result, consumers will increasingly look for transparency throughout the supply chain to reassure them that the food waste challenge is being addressed.