Ian Venus is managing director of Venus Hartung, Australia’s leading packaging company supplying packaging products to customers nationwide.
We are living in an era of convenience where we don’t have to step foot outside the house to feast like royalty or even gather our groceries for the week. When we are on the go, we are turning toward portable, packaged items more than ever as they provide ultimate efficiency for our busy lives.
For the average consumer, it’s highly appealing to order food delivery or pick up takeaway on a regular basis. But it doesn’t stop there — every individually packaged Procter & Gamble soap, Nestlé chocolate bar or box of Kellogg's cereal adds to our environmental footprint. This stands in direct contradiction to another increasingly popular consumer trend: waste management and reduction.
Demand for eco-packaging is at an all-time high
Environmental consciousness is on the rise, and even the most indulgent of consumers are taking note. While the average consumer is willing to pay more now for food than they were in the past, they are also more willing to pay more for earth-friendly items that meet their ethical and environmental standards.
This means an increased demand for sustainable options that decrease both their carbon footprint and their guilt, even as their consumption of packaged food products continues to rise. As a result, it has become extremely important for consumer packaged good (CPG) companies to take note of this trend in order to meet demand and stay in customers' favor. Companies that showcase themselves as earth-conscious and trend-savvy ultimately hold an advantage in the current environment.
How to make the shift as a food distributor
The desire for sustainable packaging can be applicable to all sorts of consumer goods, but it is especially pertinent in the world of food distribution. In America and similarly structured countries, regional grocers, discount stores and club stores rely most heavily on CBGs. Although, if you sell food or drink products of any kind, whether it is through wholesale or retail trade, you can never fully avoid excessive packaging and subsequent waste.
What you can do is respond to consumer demand for sustainable options by utilizing simpler and more eco-friendly packaging materials. And they don’t even need to be gimmicky to stand out or make a difference. Some highly underrated packaging options, such as heat-sealed vacuum bags or mesh net bags, are extremely sustainable yet don’t get all the hype that certain "eco" packaging companies aim for.
Vacuum bags are great for wet, messy or perishable goods, as they keep these items well-sealed and protected until customers are ready to open them up. For health and safety purposes, air- and water-tight packaging is simply non-negotiable for most food items. Net bags, on the other hand, are best for edibles such as bundles of produce that do not require such intense packaging and do not perish as easily.
For even simpler packaging options that require close to no waste, opt for either rubber-band bundling or bagging (with the optional addition of a zip-tie closure to seal the bag). These two options are obviously not quite as secure as heat-sealed bags or even net mesh bags, but they can be useful when selling goods that either do not spoil easily or should be used in a short amount of time.
There are many other types of eco-friendly packaging options on the market to suit your needs and preferences. Depending on the sort of products you sell, some will be more beneficial than others. It pays to do some research and consult with a professional packaging company before settling on your ideal pick.
Where to source your packaging materials
If you sell large quantities of food or drink items and require enough packaging to suit, your best bet is to partner with a wholesale packaging supplier that specializes in eco-friendly goods. There are many available to provide many different services depending on the nature of your company and the products you sell. While organic goods like animal products and plant-derived food items are the most important to properly package, processed foods of all varieties can also benefit from premium wrapping, sealing and packaging.
You may also want to source packaging from certain areas depending on where your products are being distributed and what cultural context you are catering to. Many large CPG companies like CoIgate have adapted their packaging depending on what clientele they are catering to and experienced success as a result.
If you are primarily selling and distributing wholesale food items, it is recommended that you find a company that offers bulk pallet wrapping and high-quality vacuum sealing to keep your products in good shape while they are being transported. For the retail sector, look for packaging businesses that provide shrink-wrapping or food-wrapping in smaller quantities. Look at purchasing vacuum heat sealers that you can use for yourself in the comfort of your own restaurant or distribution space.
No matter your need, there is something out there for you. But the first step is making the switch to more basic packaging for the sake of your company, your customers and the earth.