More than three quarters of consumers around the world say their beverage choice is influenced by environmentally friendly packaging, according its survey carried out across 6,000 consumers in 12 countries.
Environmental considerations were a much stronger influence on beverage choice in developing markets like India, Brazil, Turkey and China, compared to the US, UK and Japan.
Water management and carbon footprint
“Increasing urbanization in the developing world presents challenges to natural resource management and environmental sustainability,” Mario Abreu, vice president environment, Tetra Pak told this publication.
“Moreover, parents in those geographies are moved by the wish to secure a better future for their children and this includes a cleaner environment and access to natural resources.
“That being said, environmental priorities vary from region to region. For example, water resource management is a high priority in Brazil and South Africa where water scarcity is common, whereas consumers in India are more focused on carbon footprinting.”
In India, China and Turkey more than 60% of consumers surveyed said they always look for environmental credentials on beverages, compared to less than 25% in the US, UK and Japan.
“Globally, 77% of consumers say environmentally sound packaging would make them more likely to choose a brand. However it is true that this is more pronounced in developing markets (88%),” added Abreu.
What does ‘environmentally friendly’ mean to consumers?
Tetra Pak Environment Research has been carried out every two years since 2005.
In 2009, 39% of consumers looked for environmental information on labels; in 2015 this figure had risen to 70%.
In 2015, 66% of consumers decided not to choose a particular product or brand for environmental reasons: representing an increase of 26 percentage points in the last six years. 85% of consumers now recycle, up 19 percentage points.
“27% of consumers can correctly define ‘renewability’: this is a new entry and a great step forward, if we consider that it is not at all an easy concept,” said Abreu.
But what does ‘environmentally friendly’ actually mean to the consumer?
“Consumers consider ‘environmentally sound packaging’ to mean a wide range of attributes, from using raw materials that are certified and responsibly sourced and produced, to replacing the plastic of the carton package (closure, layers) with bio-based plastic,” said Abreu.
“Environmental information displayed on the package and accreditation from independent third parties, such as the FSC [Forest Stewardship Council], has also become an important way brands can display their environmental credentials.”
Meanwhile, food manufacturers and retailers use initiatives such as product recyclability, responsible sourcing and use of renewable materials (93% of those surveyed said they have these in place).
But despite increased understanding among consumers, the average user is not willing to pay extra for products unless they see a good reason to do so, said Abreu.
“While environmentally active consumers are ready to pay a premium for more sustainable products, on average end-users are not willing to bear the costs of environmental innovation, above all if the benefits for them are not clear,” he said.
“Therefore it is important to explain the environmental features of the packages to consumers. We will continue to work in partnership with our customers to provide consumers with as much environmental information as possible through on-pack channels, accreditation from third parties and clear labelling.”
Tetra Pak’s research covered 12 countries: Brazil, China, Germany, France, Japan, India, South Africa, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, US and UK.