Sustainable food packaging: how important is it to consumers?

According to a recent article from The Guardian, shoppers are starting to prioritise whether they can recycle or reduce their food packaging when shopping. Previously, the primary concern for shoppers was price, but emerging trends are continuing to gather pace: environmental considerations, vegetarianism and veganism, and ethically-sourced produce.

Consumer buying habits are starting to change. With an increase in options of how to shop, consumers can pick and choose products which suit their principles. Alongside environmental and dietary concerns, food wastage and the origin of products are growing reasons driving shopping purchases.

ThoughtWorks carried out research which discovered 62% of shoppers care about plastic packaging and recyclable materials when making a decision, whilst 57% say price is the driving factor. These statistics suggest that retailers and food manufacturers need to adapt to these change in consumer mindset.

How Vypr can help identify sustainable food packaging trends

Studies like this should be approached with caution however, as there is often a mismatch between what people say they will do, and what they actually do. In a case where something is seen as the right thing to do, if you don’t control for the response bias, you can end up with skewed data. An important way of tackling response bias is with the use of split testing, where half the panel are shown option A, and the other half see option B.

With the Vypr platform, you can test consumers’ impulse responses to packaging choices and whether they are more likely to buy a product based on its environmental footprint. You can also use the platform to identify eating habits, and predict whether your latest product concepts fit what’s currently popular or emerging trends.

Testing a number of different ready meal options with our consumer panel, there is a small but significant positive association with recyclable packaging over the non-recyclable versions. Our data shows that some consumers will choose businesses who prioritise environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes and packaging – a more modest number than in the ThoughtWorks study, but noteworthy nonetheless.

Our clients already use Vypr to adjust their packaging strategies to align with consumer sentiment. For a recent example, see our work with Nielsen Brandbank on their Pilot platform for split testing packaging options.