Study (re)fills packagers in on refillable packaging
Number of Americans taking food safety precautions sinks
Pike Research: One third of packaging to be sustainable by 2014
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Study (re)fills packagers in on refillable packaging

Report indicates that consumers look for convenience and businesses seek customer loyalty in simple-to-use and streamlined refillable packaging.

In a rare consensus, a new Wiley-Blackwell study has found that consumers and packagers alike say that their reasons for using, or wanting to use, refillable packaging are tied to both environmental issues and potential cost-savings. For those reasons, refills have typically been good business for flexible packaging, especially pouches or bags with easy-pour fitments.

Even if there seems to be some agreement, consumers surveyed remained adamant that pricing is a main driver in their purchasing decisions. Consumers believe that refills must be cheaper than fully packaged options, but the refill’s quality must not be sacrificed for cheapness, says the study.

Of the consumers surveyed, only 26% had used self-dispense style refills, 55% had positive experiences where the original packaging was swapped for a new product (such as milk bottles and ink cartridges) and less than a quarter had used a deposit system where empty packaging is returned for a financial incentive. By comparison, 98% of all soft drink and beer packaging in Finland is refillable, 90% in Denmark and 80% in the Netherlands.

“There are business and sustainability advantages to engaging with refills,” says lead researcher Vicky Lofthouse of the Department of Design & Technology at Loughborough University. “If refillable packaging is designed carefully and applied to appropriate products, it has a great opportunity to reduce household waste, and also reduce the amount of natural resources needed to package and deliver goods to the consumer.”

For consumers, the main features for convenient and useable refillable packaging identified by the study included: quick and easy-to-use; lighter and easily transported; creates less waste and is less bulky; delivered in a convenient way; and is specifically suited to the purpose and nature of the product.

For businesses, refills can generate high levels of customer loyalty, as they can tie the customer to the system if designed correctly. Researchers also found that as long as there is a clear reason as to why a refill approach is better and the refill is delivered well, people do not mind whether or not they are given a choice to participate.

Number of Americans taking food safety precautions sinks

New research shows fewer people are taking food safety precautions at home, despite recent outbreaks.

With recent media coverage on flu outbreaks and foodborne illnesses, logic dictates that food and health issues are top of mind with consumers. But new International Food Information Council Foundation research reveals the opposite is true: Fewer people are taking basic precautions that could significantly reduce their risk of becoming sick.

According to the foundation’s latest survey, more than half (52%) of Americans think foodborne illness from bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, is the most important food safety issue today. While 95% of respondents say they take at least one food safety precaution when cooking, preparing and consuming food, the number of people taking various precautions is down for nearly every action from 2008.

Compared with 92% of those surveyed in 2008, only 87% of respondents wash hands with soap and water before cooking, preparing or consuming food. When it comes to washing cutting boards with soap and water or bleach, 84% of 2008 respondents took this precaution compared to just 77% of those surveyed for 2009. Further, only 63% of those surveyed this year separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat food products, down from 70% in last year’s survey.

The survey suggested that Americans in 2009 are also faring worse when it comes to following microwave cooking instructions. Only 68% of this year’s respondents follow all cooking instructions on the packaging, down from 79% in the 2008 survey. Finally, 48% of those surveyed this year increase or decrease cooking times based on the wattage of their microwave, down from 58% in 2008.

According to the survey, only 49% of consumers say they are confident in the safety of our food. As for boosting this confidence and increasing food safety, consumers believe the onus isn’t on them. Instead, Americans look first to food manufacturers (72%) and the government (also 72%), followed by farmers/producers (57%) and retailers (49%) before looking at themselves (41%).

Pike Research: One third of packaging to be sustainable by 2014

The fast-growing packaging segment will experience double-digit growth in just five years, says research group.

According to a new study from Pike Research, sustainable packaging-a fast-growing segment of the global packaging industry-will grow to 32% of the total market by 2014, up from 21% in 2009. The intelligence firm forecasts that plastic-based packaging, which currently represents 35% of all materials used, will experience the fastest growth in the sustainable packaging market over the next five years.

“The $429 billion global packaging industry is huge but extremely fragmented, with no clear market leaders,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “As such, the move toward sustainable packaging represents a broad-based effort by manufacturers, retailers, industry groups and governments to promote the design of minimal packaging that can be easily reclaimed. A tremendous amount of innovation is going into reducing energy requirements to manufacture packaging and using more recyclable and compostable materials, but there is still a long way to go.”

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Chemical Market Associates Inc.
DeWitt & Co. Inc.
ICIS
IDES Inc.
Plastics News