Merchandising Features / Trend Features

The Eco-Friendly Future

March 26, 2012
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A look at new developments in the eco-friendly marketplace

In an ever-changing market, anticipating trends can give retailers a competitive edge. That’s certainly true in the world of eco-friendly packaging where consumers increasingly are coming to expect packaging that does the minimal harm to their environment. 
Retailers who stay on or slightly ahead of trend when it comes to eco-friendly packaging can gain increased consumer goodwill, which will hopefully translate into higher sales, says Kevin Williams, principal brand strategist for the Northampton, Mass.-based research and analysis branding firm Pure Branding, Inc.
Agrees Wendy Sancewich, director of the McGladrey National Manufacturing Industry Team at the Bloomington, Minn.-based consulting firm McGladrey & Pullen, LLC., “Companies are in business to make money. If a company decides to start carrying or producing eco-friendly products, it can not only reduce spending by reducing the amount of materials used in creating or disposing of a product’s packaging but find favor among consumers as well by being socially responsible.”
The packaging world has seen a variety of new products, both private label and national brand, in recent days that point toward a greener and more environmentally conscious future, experts agree.
Danvers, Mass.-based seafood supplier Fishery Products International announced last year that it had completely converted all of its U.S. produced items to 100 percent recycled packaging and is in the process of converting its items produced overseas as well.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms was awarded the 2011 Produce Marketing Association’s Impact Award for its new sustainable packaging approach. The company’s new packaging replaces the standard styrofoam with corrugated paperboard that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Richmond, Calif.-based Excellent Packaging & Supply in 2011 introduced compostable produce bags into the market. The bags are made from GMO-free cornstarch and can be branded by any retailer, according to the company’s site.
Last September, Baltimore-based Brassica Sprout Group switched to a new tamper-resistant clamshell container in an effort to improve food safety and become more sustainable. Each container is made from low-carbon, 100 percent recyclable PET plastic.
“For certain retailers such as Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and Tesco, it [selling eco-friendly products] reinforces their commitment to sustainability and being a good corporate citizen. Not only are they being sustainable, but they are obviously expecting that their suppliers are doing it as well,” explains Williams.
Companies can now quantify exactly how much each package they use helps or hurts the environment. Neenah, Wis.-based Menasha Packaging introduced the Environmental Sustainability Calculator as a way for companies to document just how much of an impact they are having on the environment.
This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of PLBuyer sister publication Perishables Buyer.

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