Building on the plant-based fiber products it currently provides to individual food producers, technology company Footprint has launched a customized portfolio of solutions for supermarkets designed to replace single-use plastics and foam.
On a mission to create a healthier planet, Footprint’s team of engineers uses plant-based fiber technology to design, develop and manufacture biodegradable, compostable and recyclable products that compete with plastic’s cost and performance. The global materials science company claims that its products have already led to a global redirection of 61 million pounds of plastic waste from entering the air, earth and water, working with leading global consumer brands.
“Footprint is already delivering new materials for frozen food, ready-to-eat, dairy, meat and produce suppliers to replace plastic before products get to the supermarket,” Footprint SVP of Sales Jeff Bassett said. “To accelerate the transition, we’ve created a set of offerings for supermarkets to use with their own private-brand products, or to support in-store packaging and eliminate legacy plastic. We believe Footprint is best positioned to replace legacy plastic with plant-based solutions in every aisle of the supermarket.”
Historically, no good alternatives existed for plastic or foam meat trays, deli foods, microwaveable meals and shelf-stable containers that could also withstand rigorous performance requirements of supermarkets, such as resistance to humidity, hot/cold environments, oil and grease resistance, automated de-nesting, and microwaving.
Several of these solutions were developed and tested by working with global consumer brands and are available in stores today. They are also being offered at scale to supermarkets directly.
“Our partnership with Footprint has helped us to expand our offerings of bio-based packaging options that support our commitment to reduce plastic waste,” said Chad Coester, SVP of Own Brands of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. “These innovative materials will help us work toward our Plastics and Packaging Pledge goals to have 100% of our Own Brands product packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.”
Other items, like mushroom or berry containers and produce trays, are also part of the supermarket line typically brought into stores by third-party suppliers.
“Working in coordination with some of our key partners, we were able to trial Footprint’s plant-based fiber trays for our corn offerings and ultimately replace foam trays at select retail locations,” said Katie Veenstra, director of marketing of Tracy, Calif.-based GloriAnn Farms, a value-added sweet corn supplier. “Footprint helped us develop a tray that performs as well as foam while meeting our and our retail customers’ sustainability goals.”
Footprint's customized portfolio of plant-based solutions comes at an ideal time for food retailers. Research shows that consumers are increasingly concerned about the future of the environment. Acosta’s new "Sustainability Impact on Purchase Behavior" report shows that 59% of shoppers are making it a priority to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, with four in 10 shoppers more concerned about sustainability now than they were pre-COVID-19. In fact, more younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more likely to modify their buying habits, as 75% of Millennials say sustainability is very/somewhat important when buying consumer packaged goods.
Footprint was founded by former Intel engineers Troy Swope and Yoke Chung. The Gilbert, Ariz.-based company employs more than 2,500 employees, with operations in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia. In December 2021, Footprint revealed its intention to list on NASDAQ as a public company in a business combination agreement with Gores Holdings VIII Inc.