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Dairy shoppers are looking for packaging that delivers on both freshness and sustainability, according to findings presented this week by Memphis, Tenn.-based Evergreen Packaging and EcoFocus Worldwide during the International Dairy Show in Chicago.
"We know that dairy shoppers are rethinking their shopping decisions and making changes and choices that reflect a lifestyle commitment to being environmentally friendly," said Linda Gilbert, CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide. "This is an opportunity for the dairy industry to use packaging choices to differentiate their products at the grocery store."
More than 86 percent of Americans surveyed said consideration of the environment influences their purchases, according to the presentation. Therefore, it's important for dairy brands, manufacturers and retailers to understand the intersection of sustainability and freshness in relation to packaging, Gilbert noted. This insight can inform brand building and package choices to more effectively connect with this growing trend.
According to the groups' research, dairy manufacturers should consider these key insights and strategies to build brand affinity with eco-conscious consumers via packaging:
1. Understand and align with consumers' eco-priorities: specifically, environmental concerns that surround recycling, helping reduce household waste, and interests in the use of renewable resources.
2. Make it easy for consumers to make eco-friendly choices: Consider on-package labels and directions about recycling and disposal options.
3. Use packaging to tell your environmental story: This can enhance a brand's reputation and reinforce eco-priorities, and communicate messages that shoppers consider important.
4. Speak to both freshness and sustainability. Show how packaging protects contents and can support consumer efforts to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle.
"Clearly, eco-conscious consumers want companies to be committed to environmental responsibility," said Derric Brown, director of sustainability at Evergreen Packaging. "Consumers today want responsible packaging options for dairy products, such as cartons, that can deliver on freshness, while also offering sustainability benefits. One of the benefits is that more than 75 percent of the carton is made from paper, which comes from a renewable resource—trees. Another benefit is that cartons are recyclable for millions of households."
Additionally, the barrier technology in cartons helps to enhance freshness and protect dairy product quality by controlling interaction of dairy products with the environment, he added. Cartons help to preserve flavors, minimize ingress of odors and maximize nutrient retention, specifically vitamin A and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
In related news, Evergreen Packaging Equipment has released the EQ-70 gable top packaging machine, which is designed to serve the dairy, juice and liquid food markets. ELL (Extended Long Life) components include a self-contained CIP/SIP system, environmental control features, carton decontamination and a hermetic filling system to maintain product quality. With fill volumes of 6 to 32 ounces, the EQ-70 fills quarts/liters up to 7,000 cph and fractionals up to 9,000 cph with a three-stage top down fill system.
Servo-driven technology provides repeatable package performance and automatically controls fill volumes and profiles based on product and carton size. Infinite fill adjustments allow for less down time with quick and easy changes to fill volume and carton height. An optional Spout-Pak System is available to enhance consumer convenience and preserve product freshness.