South Africa advocates for environmentally sustainable packaging that ensure longevity, safety of food

SOUTH AFRICA – Majority of consumers in developing and under-developed countries are more concerned about food security, simply having enough food to eat, than food safety issues.

This is a contrasting narrative with that in developed countries where according to Tetra Pak’s recent study, 53% of respondents listed food safety as a top issue.

One of the ways of achieving food safety is by use of appropriate packaging that maintains the integrity of the product, providing fully transparent health and nutritional data, which simultaneously permits food to last longer.

According to the research, 52% of the correspondents also indicated that sustainable packaging as their top issue.

Ultimately, the research illustrated there was no conflict but rather an interdependence between the two issues – ‘What’s good for the consumer has to be good for the planet as well’.

“This dilemma grows ever more acute as more people on the planet demand more and safer food.

“Consequently, this tension will only resolve through packaging innovations towards greater sustainability. The package of the future will play a central role in preserving both food and the environment,” says Stefan Fageräng, managing director of Tetra Pak South Africa.

With a unique case presented in developing countries such as South Africa, where only a small percentage of consumers share these first-world concerns of ‘sustainable packaging that ensure food safety’, the approach has to be slightly different in this market.

“Consequently, numerous consumers want long-life packaging which is easy to carry and store, while retaining sufficient nutrition and Tetra Pak has identified the South African market as one in which it has to simultaneously address food safety and food security.”

Francesco Francione – Market insights manager for Tetra Pak for Central Europe based in Italy

Among affluent consumers in the region, clearly marked expiry dates, and clean undamaged packaging give confidence in the safety and hygiene of the food, reports Biz Community.

Tetra Pak Index’s market research found that 58% of respondents reported that the outer packaging played a big role in their perceptions of food safety.

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“Consequently, numerous consumers want long-life packaging which is easy to carry and store, while retaining sufficient nutrition and Tetra Pak has identified the South African market as one in which it has to simultaneously address food safety and food security,” says Francesco Francione, market insights manager for Tetra Pak for Central Europe based in Italy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has however driven the factor of food safety even higher across the globe over the past year.

Simultaneously, fears regarding climate change have increased considerably during this time.

So, food packaging has to address three concerns in South Africa: long-lasting food; safe food; and environmentally sustainable packaging made from plants.

Consumers push for zero emissions

The Index also found that 67% of respondents (across nine markets) say urgent action is required to reduce the impact of packaging on climate change.

Meanwhile, 70% of respondents say packaging made from plant-based material would be preferable to them as a sustainable option.

This represents a growing public voice that is demanding a quicker shift to zero emissions, within a decade or so.

As part of this trend, consumers have become willing to actively avoid certain products solely because consumers feel they don’t meet their environmental expectations. For instance, 57% of consumers say they would avoid a product for excessive packaging.

When it comes to recycling, 80% of respondents say companies should be obliged to assist with recycling the packaging they produce.

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