I was shopping recently and checked out the quick sale section in the supermarket (as I am sure we all do!!!). After working out whether there is anything of interest, the next step is to look at the use by or best before dates and figure out how many days you have before it has to be eaten.
Most of us don’t then work out whether the amount of packaging is reasonable. This week I saw a product weighing 200g containing only eight small Indian vegetarian patties. Looked yummy, but I did not buy it as each pattie was individually placed into it’s own slot in the specially designed tray and then the whole thing was sealed and then a label was wrapped around the container. It was simply a classic example of excess packaging.
So why is it important to talk about this excess packaging thing on a website that is mainly concerned with food safety?
Simple, food safety is only part of what a business needs to consider and build into it’s products, process, and packaging. It does not stand alone.
Of course a business can be made or broken by food safety, A recent food recall in my local area is going to make it very difficult for that business to get back into the shops it had started selling in. People just expect that their food will not harm them when they eat it. In fact, it is even more than expect, it is really an intrinsic belief that the food they are eating will be safe. That is why a recall can be one of the worst things that ever happens to a business.
However, even if a business gets it’s food safety and quality right, if they do not think about the product, process and packaging at all stages of the product lifecycle, it will still fail as a business.
I did not buy a product that I liked at a good price, because I did not want to have to throw away so much excess packaging. A sale was lost, and I am not alone in making this part of my purchase decision.
Business must realise that they have a responsibility for the product from design to disposal and plan based on that.
This is the basis of the Australian Packaging Covenant, and most of the big companies in Australia have already signed up to it. They have realised that they have this responsibility and design their products and related packaging accordingly.
The hassle is that the vegetable patties that I was looking at are not manufactured by one of these big companies. It is now the turn of the smaller ones to make sure that they not only ensure food safety but also take responsibility for their packaging from design to disposal. They need to consider what will happen to that packaging, and do what they can to reduce it’s environmental impact. It simply makes business sense.
Written by Rachelle Williams – the Green Food Safety Coach