GlobalData’s 2021 Q3 global consumer survey found that consumers worldwide prefer packaged products across all categories. This consumer preference demonstrates that adding a layer of protection with packaging is more appealing than loose products. Consumers have been influenced by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and staying healthy and safe is their priority. Packaged products, therefore, appeal to them by seeming more hygienic.

Carton/cardboard is the packaging material that is most appealing in the food industry among global consumers, where dairy products saw the highest interest (37%). In contrast, within the alcoholic drinks industry, glass is favoured by half of consumers globally, followed by non-alcoholic drinks (39%) and dairy products (24%). These packaging materials both hold favourable environmentally friendly perceptions among consumers as they are deemed easier to recycle. Glass on a whole is also often perceived as higher quality, particularly in the alcoholic drinks sector. However, paper board is rising in terms of quality perceptions due to its green credentials and often sleek, minimalistic designs that can be adapted to a number of FMCG categories.

Mugunghwa, a South Korean dish soap brand, is presented in a paperboard box made with FSC-certified paper and soy ink. This new launch is made with the support of Donggubat, a social enterprise that works with people who have developmental and physical disabilities, meaning the product aligns with both social and environmental trends. Similarly, the Babaria BIO anti-ageing cream launched in Spain claims to be 100% free from plastic, as it is packaged in a glass jar and an outer paperboard box. It is said that 99% of its ingredients are of natural origin and it is suitable for vegans. Glass is a material type that is highly recommended to maintain the condition of natural ingredients and to obtain long-lasting results. The use of glass will also resonate with the growing consumer base who find plastic-free packaging in products quite or extremely important.

In the UK, Potts has revealed an enchilada and fajita cooking sauce in an unusual aluminium can format, following the consumer trend towards sustainability as it is 100% recyclable. The company is trying to reduce plastic usage, thus presenting this new variety of cooking sauces in a can format. This material type within the category is seen as an innovative characteristic and will differentiate the product in the market, attracting the 76% of shoppers in the UK who find it quite or extremely important that products are easy to recycle.

Going into 2022, plastic-free claims will remain imperative in the packaged goods space as consumers look for accessible and simple ways to cut down their environmental impact.  However, as plastic is still favoured in certain categories, brands should explore recyclable plastic solutions when they use this material to avoid backlash. Some consumers are reducing virgin plastic usage and opting for recycled ones. In France, fruit and vegetables sold in plastic packaging will be banned from January 2022. The French Government has been reducing plastic usage since an anti-waste law was voted in 2020.

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