With a new generation of eco-conscious consumers choosing to support brands that employ sustainable practices over those that do not, companies must continue building on their sustainability efforts. Creating a loyal customer base requires a product that consumers will love and packaging that adds convenience, helps preserve freshness, and aligns with a sustainable lifestyle. This may be especially important for the plant-based foods space.
Reclosable flexible packaging allows brands to differentiate themselves from other plant-based food products and appeal to long-time non-meat eaters like vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about the environment. When eco-conscious consumers know that their food’s packaging has a positive impact, it can bolster their satisfaction with the product and brand.
Here are four ways in which packaging can help make a difference for the plant-based foods industry:
1. Appeal to Consumers That Prioritize Sustainability
Brands that opt for flexible packaging instead of rigid alternatives can benefit from various sustainable advantages. Since flexible pouches are lightweight and more compact, consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands can enjoy benefits like transportation and storage efficiency, reduced volume of packaging waste, and more. Environmentally conscious consumers who seek products aligning with their values often want to see a more holistic approach to sustainability from brands. For companies wanting to further reduce their carbon footprint and tap into this growing market segment, choosing a packaging structure with a more circular end-of-life scenario can help.
When packaging materials are biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable, packaging waste and the environmental hazards associated with said waste can see a significant reduction. While the advent of mono-material structures and compatible closures has made fully recyclable pouches accessible, the packaging industry continues innovating to open more doors supporting a circular economy. Water-based, soy/vegetable, UV, and algae-based inks are becoming sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based inks.
Whether a brand should opt for recyclable or compostable packaging largely depends on the product itself. Recycling often requires consumers to clean remnants from packages to avoid contaminating the recycling stream, which may be an impractical expectation for plant-based cheese or meat products that leave oils and residues behind. Whichever route a brand takes, simply aiming to conserve resources and minimize waste in landfills can help emphasize its long-term commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. This differentiation can help position that brand as a leader in sustainability for the plant-based foods market, attracting consumers who prefer to spend their money on environmentally responsible products.
2. Help Extend Product Freshness with Reclosability Features
While the initial taste and quality of plant-based food products will heavily impact the consumers’ experience with a brand, packaging also has a role to play. Any dramatic change within a package’s appropriate atmosphere—such as exposure to excess oxygen or moisture—can lead to reduced quality in flavor and texture of the product. If the consumer does not finish the product in one sitting and the quality changes in between servings, what was originally a positive consumer experience could quickly turn sour.
This unnecessary food waste can be costly to consumers and a negative for the planet. To help keep consumers satisfied with their purchase and earn brand loyalty, ensuring their experience is the same every time they consume the product is essential. Reclosable flexible packaging can help extend the shelf life of plant-based foods after purchase by supporting the appropriate barriers to help prevent oxygen and moisture from entering or leaving the package. By helping extend the shelf life of plant-based products, consumers can enjoy them over longer periods without waste.
3. Differentiate From Competitors as a Convenient Choice
As mentioned earlier, while the quality of plant-based products alone can help generate a loyal customer base, packaging can be a key influence on their brand experience. If consumers choose between brands whose products are comparable in taste, quality and price, the one with unique packaging features may have a competitive edge.
The convenience and portability of reclosability is a differentiator that can have a lasting impact. Not only can reclosable flexible packaging enhance the visual appeal of plant-based food products on store shelves, but it also helps communicate to consumers that a package is easy to carry and consume on the go. With the right closure, plant-based food brands can help align their product with the busy lifestyle of consumers seeking healthy and convenient options.
4. Educate Consumers Through Packaging
As digital printing technology advances, brands can design eye-catching, flexible pouches that help their product stand out against the competition, share vital information about the product and package many benefits. A standup pouch design also naturally provides a standing “billboard” for graphics and information, making it easier for shoppers to notice.
Proper disposal may require more than simply putting the package in the appropriate bin depending on the package and its contents. If additional steps are required, such as removing labels or cleaning food remnants of the films, consumers may require a high level of instruction before they can confidently dispose of the package. To eliminate ambiguity and misinterpretation, plant-based brands can use their packaging to help close the information gap. Detailed disposal information cannot always fit in a pouch even with a flexible packaging configuration that allows for larger billboard branding opportunities. By opting for QR codes or AR-enabled packaging, brands can extend the conversation and attract digitally motivated consumers seeking additional sustainability information.
A Commitment to Consumers Is a Commitment to Their Values
To help demonstrate a commitment to sustainability in this new era of conscious consumerism, plant-based food brands should consider the environmental impact of their business all the way down to their packaging choices. Reclosable flexible packaging as a sustainable packaging solution provides many benefits that can help appeal to each new generation of eco-conscious consumers, set brands apart from their competitors, and positively impact the planet. By embracing eco-friendly materials, such as biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable options, brands can demonstrate a holistic approach to circularity and address concerns about packaging waste.
As the packaging industry continues to innovate and develop new packaging structures that target circularity, plant-based food brands should stay ahead of the curve and continually educate consumers with the powerful story behind sustainable packaging solutions.