Last updateThu, 02 Apr 2020 8pm

When It Comes To Food Packaging Choices, Sustainability Trumps Novelty

New research reveals new insights about consumer demand for sustainable packaging

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An independent research study conducted by MindClick Global on behalf of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), found that when asked about sustainability in food packaging choices, two-thirds of consumers preferred steel cans.

The results support findings that consumers consider sustainability to be a major driving force for purchase decisions. This fact is further supported by recent studies that rank packaging sustainability as a high priority among purchase decision makers at consumer package goods companies.

The study directly compared various packaging types within the soup category. Results revealed that when asked about food packaging and sustainability:

-- The steel can is the preferred packaging by a factor of 3:1, based on

product features of recyclability, quality of taste, shelf life, safety

and maintaining nutritional value, in a direct comparison between the

steel can, pouch and carton;

-- Consumer interest in products packaged in steel cans ranked as important

as their consideration for the nutritional value, organic ingredients

and packaging design; and

-- As a package type, cans are perceived as the best at providing complete

protection for packaged foods and shelf life.

The research also revealed a lack of strong preference for carton and pouch packaging compared to steel cans, a fact consistent with category behavior and contrary to recent studies. Focus group research also indicates that when Millennials, who are among the highest weekly purchasers of soups, meats and seafoods, are educated about steel's sustainability, there is a jump in consumer preference. With growing demand for easily recyclable material, sustainable packaging trumps novelty.

"Steel currently accounts for two-thirds of packaging material for more than 1,500 variations of food, pet food, paint, household products, health and beauty products," said Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of SMDI. "Steel is the most recyclable material on earth, with 88 percent of steel being continuously recycled. And unlike cartons and plastics, recycled cans are used over and over for both cans and all other steel application without loss of quality."

SMDI recently launched www.SteelCan.com, an education site that highlights the sustainability of steel. The site features a compelling infographic showing the story of steel from inception--iron scattered through space from the end of a star's final stages as a supernova--to its production, packaging, distribution and continuous recycling. The site also shares consumer testimonials that highlight their preference for sustainable packaging options.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 24 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI's member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.

SMDI grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets.


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