With sustainability becoming a bigger priority for consumers, brands and governments alike, the packaging market is transforming significantly.
According to leading market expert Innova, consumers increasingly seek products that reflect their values. Thirty-nine percent of consumers have said that the planet's health was their leading global concern. Despite this, it is not the primary purchase driver. However, for most consumers, when making food choices, it can be a tiebreaker. To attract such conscious consumers, brands use on-pack claims and certifications to highlight the environmental friendliness of their products.
To attract the eco-conscious consumer segment, brands leverage on-pack claims and certifications to underscore the environmental friendliness of their products. Trust in these claims is growing, especially among younger generations, and brands can enhance this trust by substantiating claims' legitimacy and placing greater emphasis on certification. Regarding upcycling, 60 percent of consumers say that independent certification is critical.
Though the Upcycled Certified logo from the Upcycled Foods Association remains limited and is still focused mainly on the US, more and more companies and brands are getting certified, while the use of the Upcycled Arrow logo is also increasing. Product launches with upcycled or rescued ingredients have grown but remain relatively niche, mainly in the treat and beverage categories.
Innova's research shows that the planet's health is becoming consumers' most important global issue, surpassing human health and economic considerations. This shift in consumer sentiment aligns with a growing interest in waste reduction, with two in three consumers willing to pay more for products designed to address food waste.
In addition, more consumers have minimised food waste (46 percent) or recycled/upcycled items (39 percent) to support the environment or their social situation in the past year. These findings suggest a strong consumer interest in upcycling as part of their sustainability efforts.
Upcycling is becoming a key waste management strategy, gaining traction among consumers, particularly younger generations. Brands appear to respond, with Innova's market research showing a steady upward trend for upcycled product launches between 2018 and 2023.
Different qualities of packaging will motivate consumers to spend more. Innova's 2023 Packaging Survey shows that the top three packaging qualities consumers would pay more for are preserving food quality, sustainability (e.g. recyclability and reusability) and enhancing shelf life – all of which directly support food waste reduction.
Consumers are clear about their expectations: when asked what they would most like to see brands do to help environmental or social causes, consumers list nature protection, sustainable packaging and improving waste management at 34 percent, 33 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
Packaging plays a critical role in the move to a more sustainable future. From increased certifications and claims to consumers gravitating toward (and paying more for) planet-friendly packaging, brands can benefit from greater consumer buy-in if they commit to innovative packaging solutions.