Having just attended the American Bakers Association (ABA) convention in Arizona, I recall remarks given by Brad Graham, senior executive vice president, Harris Teeter, Matthews, N.C., on how bakers can enhance their retailer connections. Sustainability is becoming the buzzword of the retail industry, which translates not only into store design, but also in the reusability and recyclability of bags, notes Graham.
“Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, who also spoke at the ABA's convention, described ways in which retailers, consumers and bakers could connect, based on the results of two focus groups he had moderated — one with a group of leading retailers in the United States and the other with a group of baked foods shoppers. Lempert cited America goes ‘green’ and VALUE, in capital letters, as two of the top trends for 2008. How consumers perceive value is key. If consumers are, in fact, willing to sacrifice packaging-related conveniences for the sake of the environment, as Lempert's online newsletter (March 2008) would lead one to believe, then perhaps bakers should take note.
Research conducted by the Nielsen Co. revealed that “more than half of U.S. consumers would give up all forms of packaging provided for convenience purposes if it benefited the environment; 58 percent say they would give up packaging designed for easy stacking/storing at home; 55 percent would give up packaging that can be used for cooking, or doubling as a re-sealable container, and 53 percent would give up packaging designed for easy transport.”
What consumers aren't reportedly willing to give up with respect to packaging for the sake of the environment is anything that compromises food safety, quality or labeling. In other words, packaging that prevents tampering, preserves the freshness of products and/or extends shelf life adds value for the consumer.
Nielsen's packs@work studies show that eco-friendly packaging options, such as paper, cardboard and glass that are recyclable, biodegradable and safe for disposal are apparently consumer preferred over plastic and polystyrene. While some of these options are completely impractical for bakers, there may be other ways that they can not only reduce the amount of non-eco-friendly packaging used, but also reduce their costs in the process.