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Pandemic sparks greater interest in packaging sustainability

Although price is still the most important factor when it comes to packaging, almost a third (29%) of businesses say that environmental credentials and sustainability are now important in a post Covid-19 world, according to research by leading food and retail packaging company Rocaba Packaging.

Rocaba’s recent survey with customers shows that 40% of businesses have seen a heightened interest from consumers in the environmental impact of their purchases and packaging during the pandemic. Respondents have needed to pivot their business models as a result of reduced footfall in shops and outlets, with most saying they have seen an at least 25% increase in online sales over the last 12 months.

‘As lockdown continues to lift in 2021, it is a good time to gauge the sentiment of our customers, a large proportion of which operate in the retail and hospitality sectors,’ said Rocaba Packaging CEO Sujan Shah. ‘It is clear from our results that while all have needed to adjust to trading in a remote way, most are planning for the return of physical shopping environments. Similarly, many are now actively responding to new consumer demands around the sustainability of their packaging and products which has been accelerated by the pandemic.’

Rocaba’s research shows that although around one in ten (11%) are considering a permanent shift to online business models, 40% have no plans to close any of their retail premises, despite a number of closures from high street brands. Asked what would be most helpful to retail sector recovery as the impact of lockdown continues to bite, 29% cited a continuation of government financial support and grant options. Some 39% reported that greater efforts were needed to level the playing field between bricks and mortar versus online retailers and welcomed initiatives such as the government’s proposed online sales tax to achieve this.

‘Interestingly, our retailers and other businesses favoured stimulus like financial support to grow above reducing businesses rates and cutting costs,’ Sujan continued. ‘There is an energy and appetite from retailers to get businesses moving this year, which is really encouraging. Our respondents don’t expect shopping habits formed during the pandemic to change, but they can now play a role in shaping this new approach to retail purchase and packaging, including the opportunity to factor packaging choices more heavily into both marketing and sustainability strategies.’

Independent retailers answering the survey felt there could be benefits to customers shopping more locally. Respondents also suggested that product quality and higher margins per unit, with retailers being more selective over product selection and looking to minimise packaging waste, would be a top priority as a result of the pandemic.

‘Although the challenges presented by lockdown are far from over, it mis encouraging to see how the businesses we supply to are innovating and looking forward to retail opening fully later in 2021,’ Sujan concludes.


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