Which food packaging materials are preferred by consumers and why?

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Published 12 March 2018
Brands and packaging manufacturers make big choices, when it comes to deciding on how to package different food products and what materials to use. Some materials are better than others in different conditions or suit different types of food products, and most of them have some pros and cons.
But did you know that if we ask consumers, it is paper and paperboard that is most preferred material when it comes to packaging common food products? Biscuits, sweets, pastries, chocolate, muesli and prepared meals, to mention a few. This attitude applies to all the three countries in our consumer study – UK, China and Germany. It is very appreciated especially in Germany. German consumers want other materials only for their ice cream packaging (plastic preferred) and meat, fish and poultry (plastic or shrink wrap preferred).

With paper and paperboard being both recyclable and often stackable and light, it is no wonder why consumers prefer it as a packaging material. It also provides versatility to be used for different kinds of packaging solutions and design such as premium feel or organic appearance.

The consumers' attitudes, however, do differ some between the three countries. The Chinese attitudes seem to be more inhomogeneous, and it is fairly even between the categories regarding the most appreciated material. The attitudes are more similar in the UK and Germany compared with China.

So, what conclusions can we draw from this? There are some cultural differences, but in general, paper and paperboard have clear benefits as a packaging material, and that has reached consumers' awareness. They want paper.

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Part of the bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper. We employ some 23 000 people and have sales in more than 50 countries and our shares are listed on the Helsinki (STEAV, STERV) and Stockholm (STE A, STE R) stock exchanges.

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