Organic shoppers expect eco-friendly packaging

Research by Soil Association Certification and England Marketing has revealed that the majority (67%) of organic consumers expect produce to be packaged in a more environmentally-friendly way than non-organic.

Earlier this month, 1,000 shoppers who regularly buy organic in supermarkets completed an online questionnaire designed to gain an insight into their thoughts on organic fresh produce packaging.

The research found that most respondents are committed to reducing plastic and household waste, believe the level of packaging currently found in many supermarkets is unnecessary and think that retailers and producers should be doing more to reduce it.

30% of respondents said they would buy more organic produce if it was sold loose, mainly due to a desire to buy the exact quantity needed. However, price, locality and buying British were still seen as more important factors when buying organic.

The survey also revealed that consumers prefer produce sold in paper, with an equal preference for recyclable plastic and cardboard, followed by biodegradable, but that 72% of people find it hard to identify whether or not packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.

Clare McDermott, business development director for Soil Association Certification, believes the growing appetite for action against excess packaging (particularly plastics) presents a golden opportunity for organic producers to make a positive contribution to a complex issue.

“The higher expectations shoppers have of organic packaging are a real opportunity for the organic sector to continue to make a difference and for organic producers and retailers to show themselves leading from the front on the question of packaging waste.

“It’s also important to recognize that there are stronger regulations on the horizon, targeting single-use plastics in particular, and we as a sector must do everything we can to ensure that any alternatives to plastic packaging do not exacerbate other environmental challenges such as climate change or deforestation.

“Soil Association Certification is committed to tackling the problem of harmful and non-recyclable packaging. We launched the world’s first packaging standards for organic products over ten years ago. Later this year, we’ll be bringing industry figures together to support the organic sector to work together to develop and share innovative solutions.”

On 26 September, Soil Association Certification is to host a packaging forum for organic producers.