The same kind of products and packaging, but different ways of consuming. Who we are and where we live has a great impact on how we act when arriving home with groceries from the store. When unpacking dry foods, the Brits focus on organizing and long term freshness. Therefor they repack into Tupperware, tins and cardboard boxes to stack easily. They prefer overview and appreciate small spaces and small packaging.
The Chinese on the other hand, keep their snacks stored in the living room. They keep food organized in the same category and or in similar shape together. Metal packages for instance, are put at the bottom, and lighter paper boxes on the top and paper bags are inserted where there is space. In Germany there is a fear of moisture and moths, which makes people refill the purchases into jars or reseal it with their own solutions.
When it comes to placing packaging into the fridge, the Brits have limited space and therefor they unpack if they see the packaging unnecessary. Secondary cardboard packaging is perceived redundant and possibly getting soft by the moisture. In China, the people prefer packaging in smaller sizes, with square shape suitable for standing or stacking. The consumers also ensure all opened packages to be resealed. In Germany, the resealability of cartons is top of mind and appreciated. People are largely missing a safe, environmentally friendly cold cuts packaging that can be resealed.
When putting the groceries into the freezer the behaviour in the three countries is more similar. The British consumers have the habit to expect a plastic film around the products. The mindset is that plastic keeps it fresh and compact while cardboard takes more space. The same thinking prevails in China. Consumers split large packs into smaller portions and put them into small plastic boxes so that each time they only need to defrost what they need. The Germans also think that plastic is preferable to get more space.
When it is time to use the new purchases at once, the British consumers seem to prefer squeezable plastic since it is easy to use and dispose. They find it tricky to get the opening right on the cereal packs and there is a risk for spillage and too much coming out in one go. In China few think of ease of storage and recyclability at the point of purchase, instead the taste and price is more important. The German consumers think it is problematic pouring with plastic bags in box. Usage of cartons means easy to dose and control, but their storage and re-closing should be made better. They believe that the perforated tears are always tearing in the wrong places – note that the quality of the selected packaging board can make difference here! For Germans, resealability without hassle is the key which results in many own hacks with rubber bands or clips.
Last step in the process is to recycle. This is a fairly new habit for the Brits. Single material seems easier to recycle and, to avoid waste, only a minimum amount of packaging is preferred. People are concerned about a lot of plastic ending up in the oceans. In China the knowledge of recycling is rather low. There is no governmental recycling program and that opens up for small scale businesses with trash collectors.
In Germany on the contrary, most users like to think about the future generations and try to follow recycling regulations strictly, and there are different fees for different materials. Some people are however concerned about burdening the eco system by washing waters and occasional skepticism in media about recycling.