E-Commerce trends encourage changes in Sustainable Food packaging design

When was the last time you ordered an item online and received a package much larger than you were expecting? Was your product tucked in the bottom of the box, surrounded by piles of Styrofoam or inflated plastic bags? If so, you’re not alone.

More than ever, consumers are making purchases online, and the types of products bought continues to diversify. In an era of free, 2-day-or-less shipping, people are ordering items such as perishable groceries online through their local grocery or meal-delivery companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.

In fact, the Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) 2017 Paper & Packaging Consumer Trends Report found that close to four in ten (37 percent) American have had household items such as groceries delivered to their home. Nearly one in five (19 percent) receive these kinds of deliveries at least once a month. And, more than half (52 percent) of consumers agree that in general the packaging of delivery items is often much larger than the item itself. Packaging designers, as well as major retailers like Walmart and Amazon leading the e-commerce charge, are being challenged by consumers to think about packaging with the environment in mind. This is especially true for the food industry as the trend for deliverable groceries continues to rise.

The Value in Sustainability for Food Packaging

Almost half (46 percent) of consumers surveyed agreed that the sustainability of food packaging is important to them. And especially notable for brands is that more than half (52 percent) indicated they would be willing to pay more for products in sustainable packaging, indicating that a transition to sustainable packaging can benefit the bottom line.

With more consumers demanding sustainable options and an increasing number of companies committing to comprehensive, end-to-end sustainability programs, brands need to make sure they are meeting sustainability commitments through smart packaging – and some are already rising to the challenge. For example, Hershey announced this summer a sleeker, simpler single-piece display package for its chocolate candy brands that is designed for easy transport and uses 32 percent less corrugate.

Food and beverage company PepsiCo, has also acknowledged the need to adapt to the growth of e-commerce - Chief Executive Indra Nooyi noted the company is making an effort to develop better travel packaging to keep beverages cold.

The Role of the Supply Chain

The responsibility to address this type of trend extends throughout the supply chain. Manufacturers / CPG companies need to package products in ways that minimize waste, so retailers can store and repackage for delivery in the most efficient way possible, for orders big and small. And of course, the challenge of completing deliveries as quickly as logistically possible pervades. The road to a sustainable solution begins with packaging designers. Sustainability should not – and cannot – be an afterthought in the new e-commerce landscape.

Editorial Note: This post was shared by a member of the BXP community and edited by our editorial staff. Do you have news to share with our readers or a package design project that you are especially proud of? Click here to learn how you can become a contributing member of the BXP Magazine online community.