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To bag or not to bag?

To bag or not to bag?

In with Green Packaging, out with convenience? Can convenience ever be replaced with some other feature? Plastic bags have become a cornerstone issue for environmentalists, with some cities banning them outright. But plastic bags actually make up a tiny percentage of the garbage that goes into landfills, and more municipalities are picking up bags as part of curbside recycling.

Food producers, take note: Forget the easy-to-prepare foods and give consumers items made with fresh ingredients and encased in environmentally friendly packaging. A new Ipsos Marketing study suggests consumers may be more willing to ditch convenient packaging for the greener kind, while the food itself should include fresh ingredients and deliver health benefits.

Green food packaging is big. Marks & Spencer says in its recent corporate social responsibility report that it reduced food packaging 18 percent and uses salad containers made from recycled PET bottles. Meanwhile, DuPont honored several companies for innovative food packaging with a green hue in late May. Consumers in the Ipsos Marketing survey seemed less interested in food producer efforts to develop foods that are unique and fast and easy to prepare. Oddly, consumers ranked improving the taste of food products fairly low.

Food producers, however, shouldn’t compromise taste, although taste should interconnect with using fresh ingredients, cautioned David Pring, executive vice president of the global consumer goods division of Ipsos Marketing. Pring says the consumer movement toward health, wellness and environmental consciousness may be partially heightened by the recession. Consumer awareness of greener packaging could be growing in part because of recent media attention, he notes.

“Manufacturers have also changed their approach to packaging, making more of an effort to be more environmentally friendly,” Pring says.

The survey polled more than 23,000 people in 18 countries to provide value-added insight to the consumer packaged goods industry. The Freedonia Group projects the U.S. will use 300 billion food containers annually by 2013, PD reported. Freedonia foresees food container demand growing by 2.5 percent every year over the next five years with sales topping $25 billion.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}.

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