By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Industry Relations, FMI
Shoppers are pushing back on plastic waste, but many consumers do recognize packaging can be important when it comes to product shelf life, food safety, in-store conditions, product information, portability and more. This is particularly true for produce shoppers as we found in our 2020 Power of Produce research.
What Matters Most To Shoppers When It Comes To Produce Packaging?
In the report we asked shoppers what matters most when it comes to fresh produce packaging. The results were divided:
- 35% of shoppers report minimizing environment impact of packaging wastes is most important.
- 34% of shoppers say package functionality should be balanced with environment impact.
- 31% of shoppers stress package functionality is most important.
When Is Produce Packaging Ok?
When it comes to providing a value-add and food safety shoppers are willing to accept the use of plastic packaging of produce. Most shoppers (72%) say using plastic packaging for prepared fresh produce, such as pre-cut fruits and vegetables, is important to them. At the same time, 54% of shoppers approve of using plastic packaging for food safety.
Where Could Retailers Improve on Produce Packaging?
Shoppers did report they want to see more change from their produce departments on packaging waste. Avoiding Styrofoam trays was at the top of the list of solutions at 42% and offering bio-degradable packages was also popular at 41%. Interestingly, 39% of shoppers indicated a willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly packages.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The issue of plastic packaging is complicated. Many retailers and suppliers have already committed to reducing plastic waste and are making progress, but there are so many competing concerns that it will take store leadership and consumer willingness to experiment before we find the right mix of solutions. Add in local and state legislative activities, recycling infrastructure needs and new packaging technologies and the web only gets more complex.
FMI is on your side as we work through the rapidly evolving dynamics of responsible packaging. If we’re looking for a starting point, the research indicates consumers have a fundamental understanding that sometimes plastics provide a much-needed function that other materials don’t. Our next step is balancing this information in a way that looks at the needs of both shoppers and our planet.