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FOOD PROCESSING

Mintel study sees 72% of Indians are aware of & concerned about issues of single-use plastic
Tuesday, 06 April, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Bengaluru
Mintel sees that in recent years, single-use plastic has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges. Its latest research highlights what consumers want and why, reveals that two-thirds of Indians which is 72 per cent are aware of and concerned about the issue of single-use plastic. But, four in five Indians which is 79 per cent say there's very little information on reducing packaging waste.

As many as 39 per cent of Indian consumers expect brands to reduce the amount of plastics used in packaging and 44 per cent say more brands should implement sustainability practices, placing the responsibility squarely in the hands of companies and brands. However, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), 82 per cent of food launches in India in the last five years have used plastics as a primary packaging material.

Rushikesh Aravkar, associate director, food and drink consumer reports, South APAC, Mintel, said, “Plastic is often the material of choice when it comes to food packaging thanks to its versatility, functional properties and cost-efficiency. The widespread usage of plastics in food packaging indicates that it's largely not viable to eliminate plastics entirely. Brands need to make responsible use of plastics in their packaging.”

“At the same time, it’s important to inform and involve consumers in the sustainability journey. Therefore, brands can educate consumers on the reality of the situation and underscore the fact that plastics are inherently beneficial, and the issue lies with waste management. This is an opportune time for brands to contribute to a packaging circular economy by investing in innovations that make plastic packaging as simple to recycle as possible and enable recycling infrastructure so that what's discarded is fed back into the recycling stream. There is scope for brands to launch recycling programmes where they take back primary packaging to reuse or recycle. Such programmes will not only create brand engagement but also encourage higher recycling rates. Having a reward system can further engage the consumer,” he added.

When it comes to packaged food, consumers value the naturalness of food (39 per cent), along with longer shelf life, which is also one of the most sought-after attributes of packaging. Mintel research highlights that for over two in five Indians (44 per cent), a longer shelf life would make them choose one product over another. This increases among consumers from Metro cities (48 per cent) and Socioeconomic Class (SEC) A group (52 per cent). In contrast, almost two-third of Indians (73 per cent) also agree that shorter shelf life is an indication of product freshness.

“Busy lifestyles, coupled with higher purchasing power, means that metro and SEC A consumers shop less frequently and are more likely to buy in bulk. The Covid-19 pandemic has further bolstered this behaviour and pushed the demand for longer-shelf-life products. The extended shelf-life claims can be coupled with natural claims to improve consumer awareness and perception through on-pack communication,” added Aravkar.

According to the company, the use of QR codes on food packaging in India has doubled from 4 per cent in 2016 to 8 per cent in 2020, highlighting the growth potential.

“The use of on-pack digital technology such as QR codes to boost consumer engagement remains underused in India. Connected packaging can help tackle issues of food safety with authentication and traceability, and enable gamification, promotion and other fun ways to drive engagement,” concluded Aravkar.
 
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