Tetra Pak study reveals concerns over food safety, environment and pandemic

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food safety, the environment and the covid-19 pandemic were all uppermost in people's minds in the latest Tetra Pak Index. Pic: Tetra Pak
Food safety, the environment and the covid-19 pandemic were all uppermost in people's minds in the latest Tetra Pak Index. Pic: Tetra Pak

Related tags: Tetra pak, Food safety, Sustainability, Packaging, Food waste, COVID-19, coronavirus, best before date

Tetra Pak has revealed the findings from its global research study, in partnership with market research company Ipsos, showing food safety is a major issue for society.

The same amount of respondents believe that COVID-19 is a “real threat.” At the same time, concern for the environment remains high, which Tetra Pak said creates a dilemma in the consumers’ minds as they try to balance the priorities of human existence through safe food and the sustainability of the planet.

The 13th edition of the Tetra Pak Index showed a 10% increase in global concern about food safety and future food supplies, now at 40%, compared to 30% from 2019. In addition, more than 50% of consumers believe improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers, and that it is the number one issue companies need to tackle now and in the future.

According to this year’s research, health is deeply connected to heightened issues of food safety and hygiene, with two-thirds of consumers saying being healthy is being safe and 60% of consumers globally saying they worry about the food they buy being hygienic and safe.

When asked what is key for them in a package, consumers indicated ensuring food safety is its main purpose. They also express concerns about environmental innovations in packaging impacting food safety, even though the majority of respondents indicate ‘using sustainable packaging’ as one of the top issues food and beverage brands need to tackle – today and tomorrow.

Adolfo Orive, president and CEO, Tetra Pak, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo, accelerated trends and created a new landscape of consumer needs and opportunities for companies to build on. In particular, the industry needs to address the growing dilemma around food safety and the environment, stepping up towards the twin goals of meeting the human need for food while protecting our planet’s ecosystem. This is where food packaging can play a strong role in bringing about harmony.”

The Tetra Pak Index 2020 also highlights how food waste is rising in importance, and this is now seen as a concern by more 77% of respondents. The impact of COVID-19 on supply chains has accelerated awareness of food waste as a pressing issue. Tetra Pak said there is a likelihood this sentiment will grow going forward, as the world strives to feed a growing population.

Consumers cite food waste reduction as both the number one environmental issue they can influence themselves and one of the top three priorities for manufacturers. But confusing labeling is a barrier, offering brands a chance for better communication. 

When asked which global issues they believed they could influence, 47% chose “preventing food waste” followed by 40% for “single use plastic” and 37% for “dealing with packaging waste.”

In the survey, 39% of global consumers said they throw away food that smells and looks fine because the “best before” date has passed, even if it doesn’t smell or look bad, and 67% thought a product may be unsafe to consume once this date has passed.

Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor at Yale University, and chair of Tetra Pak’s sustainability advisory panel, said, "This year’s Tetra Pak Index highlights emerging consumer and social concerns that we see increasingly mirrored by academic research. With a growing global population set to require up to 70% more food by 2050, at a time when biodiversity, climate change and food security are becoming ever more pressing, there is an urgent need for change​.”

The Ipsos study was based on data from: A global survey of 8,501 consumers from Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and US; an online social media study analyzing approximately 75,000 online consumer conversations in the US and India over the 24 months leading up to June 2020, including both text and image-based data sources; and a review of existing data and reports.

The data collected for the 2020 Index Report was supplemented with data from Tetra Pak’s latest environmental survey, the Consumer Environmental Trends Report 2020. Conducted in July 2020, the survey is comprised of a total of 4,800 consumer interviews based on an online questionnaire in 16 markets: Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK and US. 

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