Can sustainable flexible packaging add value for specialist food brands?

Whether creating innovative vegan products or making recipe changes to make products halal or kosher, specialist food brands have perhaps the biggest opportunity of any food segment to deliver on their sustainability commitments with their packaging.

Across the specialist food sector, sales are surging. The vegan food market, for example, is projected to grow at an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of almost 10% to 2025, according to intelligence agency Grand View Research. Similarly, the company projects that the global market for gluten-free products will grow at a strong 8.5% CAGR until 2027.

While the food trends are capturing consumer attention, there is opportunity for brands in these more niche markets to build on this with a more focussed push towards sustainable packaging.

The appeal of ‘green’ packaging

It becomes increasingly clear that shoppers are using packaging sustainability to inform purchase decisions. Research from intelligence agency Boston Consulting Group found that 74% of consumers were proactively willing to pay more for packaging deemed more eco-friendly or sustainable.

Spurred on by high-profile media coverage, including documentaries and political activism, shoppers are looking for brands and products that reflect their own values and ideals, which today includes more environmentally-conscious propositions.

Specialist food products, which must be formulated, processed and created in a certain way, are usually sold at a higher price point. For example, vegan products in supermarkets tend to be more expensive than their meat, fish or dairy counterparts, as well as in comparison to vegetarian products. Sustainable packaging doesn’t just enable a business to lower its carbon footprint and move closer to closing a circular economy, it creates a demonstrably more attractive proposition for the consumer and helps to account for what is already a higher price point.

There is also a common misconception that due to a difference in substrate or production method, sustainable packaging cannot perform as well as more ‘traditional’ materials such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or HDPE (high-density polyethylene). Today’s sustainable packaging technology is a world apart from that idea, often outperforming the non-recyclable packaging format it replaces in terms of security and barrier performance.

Another notable consideration, that impacts vegan producers more than most, is that for many individuals, vegan diets and lifestyles are an ethical choice, designed to lower that person’s impact on the world around them. Because of this, using packaging destined for landfill that is purely linear in use is at odds with a significant consumer driver in this demographic.

Why choose a sustainable packaging partner?

For many brands, the difficulty lies in beginning the journey towards more sustainable packaging. For larger businesses, there may be established lines and stockholding or a reluctance to change packaging design or supplier. For many niche brands serving smaller markets, there may be limited internal resources to make sustainable packaging a reality.

A sustainable packaging partner like Eco Flexibles® can take the traditional pain points of eco-friendly packaging away, using extensive industry expertise to guide brands through the process. As specialist food brands look for ways to add additional value to the consumer, sustainable packaging combines two upwardly rising trends.

At Eco Flexibles, we believe that the journey to convert existing packaging designs into consumer-led sustainable packaging should be simple and effective for the brand owner. By handling the full packaging redesign journey in-house, from ideation, concept and development, to testing, accreditation, manufacture and supply, Eco Flexibles helps to turn packaging from a fundamental need into a crucial competitive edge.

Get in touch with our team to discover more about Eco Flexibles. Revolutionising the packaging design and supply process, Eco Flexibles challenges the packaging sector to think differently – and its fresh approach to sustainability is designed to drive long term value for brands and their supply chains!