Consumers watch out for environmentally friendly packaging

EU policy has declared war on plastics. But is the issue also important for consumers and their shopping behaviour? YouGov’s opinion pollsters investigated this question.

According to the YouGov study, only 29 percent are of the opinion that there is already sufficient environmentally friendly packaging available. 72 percent prefer to buy products that generate as little packaging waste as possible. Older people aged 60 and over (81 percent) in particular are keen to avoid waste when selecting products in supermarkets. The younger people are, the less (comparatively) they watch out for packaging waste. These are the results of the current “For the bin” analysis by the international Data and Analytics Group YouGov. Almost half of the Germans (46 percent) have at some time decided against buying a product because it was packaged in plastic. The study shows that plastic packaging is less likely to cause goods to be left on the shelves by customers of Netto (40 percent) or Aldi Nord (39 percent). More than half (53 percent) would even change their main store for the sake of the environment if another nearby supermarket offered environmentally friendly packaging. Above all Edeka (58 percent) and Penny (58 percent) could lose customers in this way.

What characteristics consumers prefer in food packaging depends on the packaged product. The environmental friendliness of packaging is the top priority for shoppers buying dry goods such as pasta (51 percent), confectionery (49 percent) and fruit and vegetables (56 percent). In the case of more perishable goods such as fresh food and dairy products, consumers attach the greatest importance to avoiding germs (63 percent for fresh food and 58 percent for dairy products). However, environmental friendliness is the second most important aspect of packaging for these product groups, at 53 and 54 percent respectively.


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German consumers are sensitized to the subject of packaging waste and try to actively avoid packaging waste already when shopping,” says Daniela Loeck, Senior Consultant at YouGov. “Retailers and companies across all product categories should take consumer wishes seriously and improve their offers in terms of environmental friendliness”.

When asked why consumers call for more sustainable packaging, but the consumption of coffee to go and take-away snacks is still on the rise, Daniela Loeck explains, "At first glance, the consumer desire for more environmentally friendly packaging  and the increasing consumption of coffee to go and snacks to go, which often involve comparatively large amounts of packaging waste, are contradictory. For consumers, the focus here is on fast, uncomplicated consumption options. Packaging solutions that limit this convenience, such as deposit systems with limited return facilities, are therefore less well accepted. Nevertheless, consumers do appreciate environmentally friendly alternatives here too. Suppliers of to-go or convenience products can therefore score particularly well with solutions that combine both aspects".

The study (only available in german language) was able to access the YouGov database comprising 130,000 data points and for which 70,000 Germans are continuously surveyed on a representative basis over the course of the year. The analysis was combined with an additional population-representative survey of 1,023 individuals conducted from 11 to 13 March 2019.

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