Many consumers think that packaging is only useful for transporting food. It can have a big role to play in keeping food fresher, helping to minimise wastage and save consumers money. The industry has to raise awareness of this fact to prevent the technology from being wasted.
Packaging is not just used for keeping food safe in transit. Innovations within the industry mean that bags and containers can actually keep the food inside fresher for longer. This message doesn’t appear to be reaching the consumers and many are still discarding the wrappers once they get home. How can the industry change these perceptions?
In recent years, the packaging industry, including bagmaking and weighing machine suppliers, has developed a number of new technologies. These include vacuum packs, re-sealable packs and the use of hormone strips within packaging. Many of these allow food to be kept within the packaging and stay fresh for much longer than in traditional bags.
Consumers remain unaware of how they could be limiting the life of their produce by taking it out of the bag and packaging and weighing machine suppliers need to better inform them. Many items of fresh fruit and vegetables, including apples, peppers and carrots, will actually last far longer if they’re kept in their bag and in the fridge.
A recent report by WRAP, in conjunction with INCPEN, The Packaging Federation, Food and Drink Federation, Kent Waste Partnership and British Retail Consortium, found that perceptions of food packaging hadn’t kept up with technology.
13% of those questioned didn’t think that it was important to keep food in its packaging once they got home. In fact, 61% of them believed that food would actually go off quicker if it remained in the bag. This lack of information could be responsible for a huge amount of wasted food that would be dramatically reduced if consumers were better educated. The report found that an average family could save 270 a year by simply following the storage instructions on the pack.
How the Packaging Industry Can Change Attitudes
The industry is up against many years of consumers adopting certain behaviours. They’ve always thought it was better to take some items straight out of their bags when they get home, rather than actually reading the label to see what’s best. According to the WRAP report, only 22% of them would study the storage information on the pack.
The advances that the industry has made have helped supermarkets to reduce their waste, but this is not being replicated in the home. Supermarkets, industry bodies and manufacturers have to work together to better inform the general public or the technology will not be worth it.
As technology advances further, there will be more developments and these could simply be wasted opportunities to reduce food waste if consumers aren’t educated about them. Leading packaging and weighing machine suppliers are looking to smart technology and in the future packaging could actually tell us when food has gone off.
About the Author
Samantha Lees writes regularly on packaging for a range of manufacturing websites and blogs. She works with a number of manufacturers and industry bodies to keep up to date with technology. For further information on food packaging click on this page.