Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

UK Food Packaging Trends market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Food Packaging Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this report

This Report examines NPD and consumer trends in the UK market for food packaging in relation to consumer products. This includes outer and inner packaging purchased with products, but excludes packaging used for bulk transportation and industrial purposes.

This Report does not follow the usual format of Market Intelligence Reports, due to the nature of the industry. For example, the large numbers of suppliers in this industry means that it is not applicable to include a section on manufacturer/brand share data, while due to the absence of consumer-facing sales of packaging as a standalone product, it is not applicable to include a section on market size.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alyson Parkes, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The spotlight on plastic packaging and its environmental impact will be a key driver of change in the food industry. Consumers’ expectations for sustainable packaging are set to heighten demand for alternative materials. Responding to the shifting demographic backdrop is also vital, given the growing number of small households and the ageing population. Alyson Parkes
Research Analyst

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Packaging needs to cater to the ageing population
              • Out-of-home eating occasions on the rise
                • Disposal of food packaging will become a major challenge for the UK
                  • Plastics debate could see increased demand for other packaging materials
                    • The ‘shrinkflation’ trend exacerbated by Brexit and sugar concerns
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Retailers’ strategies to reduce plastic waste
                          • New packaging launches jump to a four-year high
                            • Innovation in environmentally friendly packaging
                              • Environmentally friendly pouches enter the UK market
                                • Packaging focuses on food waste
                                  • Smart labels appear on Sainsbury’s packets of ham
                                    • The consumer
                                      • Glass packaging is seen as the hardest packaging type to open
                                        • Figure 1: Qualities associated with different types of food packaging, December 2017
                                      • Plastic packaging formats are associated with being difficult to recycle
                                        • Resealable packaging garners the most interest
                                          • Figure 2: Interests in food packaging, December 2017
                                        • Scope to boost recycling amongst younger age groups
                                          • Figure 3: Behaviours relating to food packaging, December 2017
                                        • Strong interest in buying loose products suggests a future for plastic-free aisles
                                          • Britons consider themselves to be a nation of recyclers
                                            • Figure 4: Food packaging recycling habits, December 2017
                                          • Clearer recycling instructions on packaging are needed
                                            • Figure 5: Factors to encourage recycling of food packaging, December 2017
                                          • The majority expect companies to make food packaging sustainable
                                            • Figure 6: Attitudes towards food packaging, December 2017
                                          • Branded packaging seen to be more attractive than own-label by half
                                            • What we think
                                            • Issues and Insights

                                              • Cardboard and paper packaging likely to benefit off the back of plastic concerns
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                    • Helping younger age groups to recycle more can build engagement
                                                      • The facts
                                                        • The implications
                                                          • Highlighting functional features can win favour with the UK’s ageing population
                                                            • The facts
                                                              • The implications
                                                              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                                • Packaging needs to cater to the ageing population
                                                                  • Out-of-home eating occasions on the rise
                                                                    • Disposal of food packaging will become a major challenge for the UK
                                                                      • Plastics debate could see increased demand for other packaging materials
                                                                        • The ‘shrinkflation’ trend exacerbated by Brexit and sugar concerns
                                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                                          • Packaging needs to cater to the ageing population
                                                                            • Figure 7: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2012-17 and 2017-22
                                                                          • Smaller households need smaller packs
                                                                            • Figure 8: UK households, by size, 2017-22
                                                                          • Out-of-home eating occasions on the rise
                                                                            • Disposal of food packaging will become a major challenge for the UK
                                                                              • Household recycling rates have fallen over the last five years
                                                                                • Government proposes 25-year plan to reduce plastic packaging waste
                                                                                  • Removing plastic packaging has the potential to increase food waste
                                                                                    • China restricts imports of waste paper and plastics from the UK
                                                                                      • Uncertain future for packaging recycling following Brexit
                                                                                        • Black plastic trays identified as the worst culprits for not being recycled
                                                                                          • Roadmap agreed for black plastic tray recycling
                                                                                            • Plastics debate could see increased demand for other packaging materials
                                                                                              • Guideline changes to fresh food labelling aim to reduce food waste
                                                                                                • The ‘shrinkflation’ trend exacerbated by Brexit and sugar concerns
                                                                                                • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                  • New packaging launches jump to a four-year high
                                                                                                    • Innovation in environmentally friendly packaging
                                                                                                      • Environmentally friendly pouches enter the UK market
                                                                                                        • Packaging focuses on food waste
                                                                                                          • Smart labels appear on Sainsbury’s packets of ham
                                                                                                          • Retailers’ Strategies to Reduce Plastic Waste

                                                                                                            • Iceland commits to plastic-free aisles
                                                                                                              • Waitrose pledges to scrap black plastic trays
                                                                                                                • Tesco wants all packaging to be recyclable or compostable by 2025
                                                                                                                  • Sainsbury’s aims to halve packaging by 2020
                                                                                                                    • Asda commits to recyclable packaging under Walmart’s Sustainability targets
                                                                                                                      • Morrison’s responsibility targets align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
                                                                                                                        • Aldi to source all of its pulp-based packaging from certified forests by 2020
                                                                                                                          • The Co-op aims to make the majority of its packaging easy to recycle
                                                                                                                            • Marks and Spencer aims to generate zero waste across the business
                                                                                                                            • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                              • New packaging launches jump to a four-year high
                                                                                                                                • Figure 9: New launches in the UK food market, by launch type, 2014-17
                                                                                                                              • Several categories have seen pack sizes shrink
                                                                                                                                • Innovation in environmentally friendly packaging
                                                                                                                                  • Iceland launches Indian street-food style range in eco-friendly packaging
                                                                                                                                    • Tesco maximises recyclability of fresh food packaging
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 10: New product launches in the UK food market carrying an environmentally friendly package claim, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                    • Co-op’s single-polymer protein pack aims to help consumers up recycling habits
                                                                                                                                      • Itsu relaunches pot noodles in environmentally friendly packs
                                                                                                                                        • Snact roles out home compostable packaging across its range
                                                                                                                                          • Environmentally friendly pouches enter the UK market
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 11: New product launches in the UK food market, by packaging type, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                          • Packaging focuses on food waste
                                                                                                                                            • Waitrose introduces packaging made from food waste
                                                                                                                                              • Maldon Sea Salt summer packaging encourages top-to-tail cooking
                                                                                                                                                • Retailers remove sticker labelling on some fruit and vegetables
                                                                                                                                                  • Unipak develops new packaging to absorb fruit juices and extend shelf life
                                                                                                                                                    • Retailers face consumer backlash over packaged fresh produce
                                                                                                                                                      • UK’s first re-closable frozen food pack launched
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 12: New product launches in the UK food market, by claims related to convenience, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                      • Fairfields unveils the first ever microwaveable bag of crisps
                                                                                                                                                        • Linpac develops ‘quick roast’ joint pack concept for the Co-op
                                                                                                                                                          • Smart labels appear on Sainsbury’s packets of ham
                                                                                                                                                            • Onken offers personalised ‘YouGurt’ pot service
                                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                              • Glass packaging is seen as the hardest packaging type to open
                                                                                                                                                                • Plastic packaging formats are associated with being difficult to recycle
                                                                                                                                                                  • Resealable packaging garners the most interest
                                                                                                                                                                    • Scope to boost recycling amongst younger age groups
                                                                                                                                                                      • Strong interest in buying loose products suggests a future for plastic-free aisles
                                                                                                                                                                        • Britons consider themselves to be a nation of recyclers
                                                                                                                                                                          • Clearer recycling instructions on packaging are needed
                                                                                                                                                                            • The majority expect companies to make food packaging sustainable
                                                                                                                                                                              • Branded packaging seen to be more attractive than own-label by half
                                                                                                                                                                              • Qualities Associated with Different Types of Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Glass packaging is seen as the hardest packaging type to open
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 13: Correspondence Analysis, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                  • A fifth see flexible plastic pouches as hard to open
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Qualities associated with different types of food packaging, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Plastic packaging formats are associated with being difficult to recycle
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Various component materials inhibit ease of recycling plastic pots
                                                                                                                                                                                      • ‘Downcycling’ is an option for plastic pouches
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Most packaging types are not seen to be environmentally friendly
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Interests in Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Resealable packaging garners the most interest
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 15: Interests in food packaging, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Under-34s are most interested in portion control
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Portion control packaging can help to reduce food waste
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Edible packaging is an underexplored area
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Interactive packaging features appeals to the young and the affluent
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Behaviours Relating to Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Scope to boost recycling amongst younger age groups
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 16: Behaviours relating to food packaging, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • On-pack information about food is preferable to online
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Strong interest in buying loose products suggests a future for plastic-free aisles
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Reducing food waste is more of a priority than reducing packaging waste
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 17: Food Packaging Trends – CHAID – Tree output, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Food Packaging Recycling Habits

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Britons consider themselves to be a nation of recyclers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 18: Food packaging recycling habits, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Over-65s are the most frequent recyclers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Food packaging recycling habits, by age group, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Factors to Encourage Recycling of Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Clearer recycling instructions on packaging are needed
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 20: Factors to encourage recycling of food packaging, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • More clarity is needed for local recycling
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity for supermarkets to boost recycling rates
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Attitudes towards Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Easy-open packaging is important for older generations
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 21: Attitudes towards food packaging, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • The majority expect companies to make food packaging sustainable
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Many consumers forget how long food has been open for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • More than half think that popular characters would make healthy food appealing to kids
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Branded packaging seen to be more attractive than own-label by half
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Drivers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 22: New product launches in the UK food market, by packaging material, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Recycling rates of municipal waste, by EU Member States, 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: New product launches in the UK food market, by package type, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Share of new product launches in the UK food market featuring an easy-to-open claim, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 26: Share of new product launches in the UK food market, carrying a resealable claim, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 27: Food packaging waste recycling habits, by region, December 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Food Packaging Trends – CHAID – Table output, December 2017