New soil Association research reveals issues and opportunities for fresh produce packaging

Shopper opinion on organic packaging

New research carried out by Soil Association Certification, in association with England Marketing, has revealed insights into consumer opinion on the packaging of organic fresh produce.

1000 supermarket shoppers of organic, buying regularly (fortnightly to occasionally), responded to the online questionnaire in June, with the results revealed on 21 June at Soil Association Certification’s Organic Produce Forum.

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

Of those surveyed, 30% would buy more organic produce if it was sold loose, mainly driven by a desire to buy the exact quantity needed. However, price, locality and buying British were still seen as more important factors when choosing to buy organic.

A key finding was that the overwhelming majority of respondents (67%) expected organic produce to be packaged in a more environmentally friendly way than non-organic.

organic peppers on a shelf 

The survey also found that the majority of consumers preferred 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 when 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

Clare said: “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 recognise 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 10 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 will host a packaging forum for organic producers.

Read more about the Soil Association’s commitment to tackling plastic waste.

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