Sustainable packaging is becoming an increasingly important issue for consumers, new research has suggested.

According to a study by market analysts Datamonitor, while sustainable packaging is not yet a primary motivating factor in what shoppers buy, it is becoming a “consumer expectation”.

In the second half of 2008, Datamonitor found that 39% of UK consumers felt that packaging design has a medium or high level of influence over their choice of food and drink products.

However, of this proportion, only 9% felt that it exerted a high level of influence on their purchases.

Sustainable packaging is moving up the consumer agenda and is one of a growing number of issues driven by ethical considerations, economics and environmentalism, Datamonitor said.

Matthew Adams, consumer analyst at Datamonitor, suggested that brands should consider adapting their present approach to accommodate sustainable packaging, given increasing consumer demand, economic imperatives and the possibility of greater regulation.

According to Datamonitor, while the global recession is having a negative impact on ethical buying trends – such as Fairtrade sales – recession-inspired behaviour can also have some positive side affects for environmental shopping.
“Recession makes everyone act more efficiently and, as fewer purchases are made, there is potentially less waste. Rising fuel costs have also made numerous consumer packaged goods companies question their current practices and seek cost savings by reducing packaging in order to cut the amount of weight that is transported from factory, to shop, to end consumer,” Datamonitor said.