"Green packaging is a huge opportunity for food producers - particularly in the snack and bakery categories," Eva Peters, director of Packaging Development at Pepperidge Farm told the seminar.
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily after the meeting, Peters said: "Sustainability is here to stay. I have been in the industry for 30 years, I've seen pockets of interest in sustainability but never to this level."
As pricing becomes no longer an option to drive profitability and with cost-cutting opportunities exhausted, there is growing interest in sustainability. "Packaging can help to drive sales. While packaging will always be about protecting food - with food safety always paramount - there's growing interest in sustainability; protecting the product in the most sustainable way," she said.
Recycle and renew
Pepperidge Farm, part of the Campbell's food and beverage group, plans to extend its sustainability programme based on the principles of food protection and partnership with research groups, together with the themes of recycle and renew. In particular, the company is considering how it might pilot a new sustainable packaging product and educate consumers about its benefits.
Peters praised the sustainable packaging successes achieved by Danone with its yoghurt cups and Proctor & Gamble with detergents. "So far, there's really nothing in the snacks and bakery sector to compare to their successes ," she said.
The continuing economic recession miring the US economy is bringing new opportunities for the packaging sector, continued Peters. As unemployment reaches nearly 10 per cent, about 78 per cent of consumers are now cooking at home, said Peters. "That brings opportunities for product ranges such as Campbell's simple meals and other products."
Act on instinct
Meanwhile, the importance of packaging in driving sales was highlighted at the trade show by German retail consultancy EHI Retail Institute. European consumers are confused by the vast array of choice, said institute researchers.The average German supermarket now stocks more than 15,000 items compared with 6,000 articles in the mid 1990s.
That means most shopper act on instinct,said the researchers. About 70 per cent of shoppers decide what to put in their shopping basket only at the point of sale.
"This is where the importance of the sales package leaps out, because it acts as a decision aid at the shelf," according to the Munich-based research firm. "The influence of packaging on purchasing decisions is twice as high as that of TV advertising, billboards or print media."