Nestle "looking at more sustainable packaging solutions for confectionery that can have an impact now"

Nestle "looking at more sustainable packaging solutions for confectionery that can have an impact now"

While Covid-19 is, for obvious reasons, front-and-centre in consumers' minds, a range of factors continue to drive purchasing behaviour, with environmental concerns holding their importance, GlobalData writes, reflecting on the UK market.

The claims brands make for their products' sustainability credentials may not take precedence over current consumer concerns in the UK over their general health and wellbeing – which have routinely topped GlobalData's weekly Covid-19 tracker since its initial run on 1 April – demand for environmentally-focused products has not diminished.

In week ten of the survey, published on 3 June, 36% of the UK public stated they are always or often influenced by how environmentally-friendly a product claims to be, two percentile points higher than in week one.

This relative stability in UK consumer interest in a product's sustainability credentials suggests the strength of eco-trends, which have grown in prominence over the last decade or so and underpinned a growing amount of innovation – remains a factor when a significant number of shoppers are weighing up what to buy.

UK: To what extent do environmentally-friendly attributes influence your choice in a product or service?

Source: GlobalData

And major packaged-food companies are continuing to invest, for example, in making changes to the packaging of products.

In a recent announcement, luxury ice-cream brand Häagen-Dazs said it would no longer include a single-use plastic spoon in its mini-cup multipacks. A small move but the brand does have a larger sustainability programme, wherein it plans to have recyclable packaging for its products by 2022 – and be plastic-free by 2025. What's more, the announcement came in time for seasonal shopping, as the sun is out and consumers look set to go on picnics, albeit cautiously as social-distancing guidelines are followed.

Nestlé, too, is moving forward with a recent packaging push for its snacks products in the UK. The company is set to use a recyclable paper wrapper – first launched for its Yes! bar brand in 2019 – on  its Smarties sharing block. Again, another, small, incremental move but only one part of Nestlé's overall sustainability plans, with the company investing heavily into alternative and recyclable packaging formats this year.

And Mondelez International has announced that its Philadelphia cream cheese sold in the UK and Europe is to be made with recycled plastic packaging, starting from 2022. The move follows a recent change in the UK for the packaging for Mondelez's Dairylea Lunchables and Dairylea Snackers to be made with 75% recycled PET plastic. To support the new packaging push for Philadelphia, Mondelez said it will put "new recycling labelling information" on Philadelphia packs  this summer to "help consumers dispose of the packaging responsibly".

While there remain some questions about the efficacy of some packaged-food companies' sustainability programmes, not least on the issue of packaging, these recent developments (and more) suggest manufacturers and brands are continuing to look to improve their use of resources for environmental reasons – and, in the UK, consumer data suggests their could be a sales benefit available to them.

Covid-19 isn't denting consumer interest in brands and products that can offer environmental benefits.