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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Food Packaging Trends: Incl Impact of COVID-19 - UK 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? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

The COVID-19 outbreak saw the UK government impose a nation-wide lockdown that began on 23 March. People following the UK government’s edict to stay at home and the closure of foodservice venues have caused a sharp shift in where people eat, with most people now consuming all their meals and snacks at home. This has fed through to increased demand for packaging for that food.

All reports purchased from the Mintel Store now come with free access to our COVID-19 Global Insights Hub, allowing you to understand how industries and consumer behaviour is changing worldwide.


What does the COVID-19 Global Insights Hub give you access to?

  • Over 450 pieces of research (with more published each week) addressing markets across the globe.
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Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

The COVID-19 outbreak has sharply increased the amount of food people eat at home, feeding through to increased demand for packaging for this. The big focus in food packaging in recent years has been on plastic reduction, and the industry has made major progress towards the targets set out by the UK Plastics Pact. In the short term, consumers are likely to be less concerned about the environmental side of packaging, the government also pronouncing this a less urgent priority. Richard Caines
Senior Food & Drink Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Report Scope
        • Executive Summary

            • The market
              • Impact of COVID-19 on food packaging
                • Figure 1: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on retail food packaging, April 2020
              • UK set to miss 2020 target for recycling
                • Progress being made on plastic reduction
                  • Binary recycling labelling being rolled out
                    • Plastic tax coming in 2022
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Plastic removal top of retailers’ agendas
                          • Fruit and vegetables a major focus for plastic reduction
                            • Retailers make big progress on removing black plastic
                              • Packaging-free aisles trialled
                                • New packaging accounts for more than a quarter of launches
                                  • Figure 2: New launches in the UK food market, by launch type, 2015-19
                                • Half of launches feature environmentally-friendly packaging claims
                                  • Figure 3: New product launches in the UK food market carrying environmentally-friendly packaging and recycling claims, 2015-19
                                • Plastic still the dominant packaging material
                                  • The consumer
                                    • Ocean plastic people’s biggest concern
                                      • Figure 4: Top consumer concerns relating to food packaging and waste, February 2020
                                    • Being easy to recycle is important to two thirds of people
                                      • A quarter see keeping food fresh for longer as important
                                        • Figure 5: Most important attributes of food packaging, February 2020
                                      • Re-usable containers most likely to be used for pasta/rice
                                        • Figure 6: Foods people think they would be likely to use re-useable containers for when shopping in supermarkets, February 2020
                                      • Use-by or best-before dates the most checked information
                                        • Figure 7: Information people check on food packaging when shopping, February 2020
                                      • Huge stated preference for loose fresh fruit/vegetables
                                        • Consumers taking action to reduce food packaging
                                          • Figure 8: Behaviours related to food packaging, February 2020
                                        • People want more from local recycling services
                                          • Seven in 10 want environmentally-friendly rating system for packaging
                                            • Figure 9: Attitudes towards food packaging, February 2020
                                          • What we think
                                          • The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Packaging

                                            • Short, medium and long-term impact on the industry
                                              • Figure 10: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on retail food packaging, April 2020
                                            • Opportunities and Threats
                                              • Potential risk of critical packaging shortages
                                                • Demand for refills and loose produce likely to be hit
                                                  • Short-term greater focus on core ranges and essentials
                                                    • Impact on the retail food packaging market
                                                      • Panic buying in initial weeks of outbreak
                                                        • Figure 11: Incidence of stocking up on groceries/other supplies, 28th February-16th April 2020
                                                      • More meals and snacks being eaten at home
                                                        • Figure 12: Expected changes to spend on food for eating at home over the next month compared to usual, surveyed 2nd April- 9th April 2020
                                                      • Contamination worries are widespread but packaging is low risk
                                                        • Packaging industry faces supply and cash flow issues
                                                          • Reported shortage of solvents for packaging
                                                            • Threat to supply of cardboard from recycled fibre
                                                              • Plastics companies expecting a drop in turnover
                                                                • Shifts in consumer behaviour
                                                                  • Less demand for loose produce and refills
                                                                    • Plastic waste issue likely to take more of a back seat during pandemic
                                                                      • Figure 13: The environment as a priority since the COVID-19 outbreak, 16th April-23rd April 2020
                                                                    • On-the-go packaging likely to be less important
                                                                      • Success of remote working may result in longer-term changes
                                                                        • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape the industry
                                                                          • Income squeeze will hit discretionary spend
                                                                            • Economising habits have proven long lasting
                                                                              • Income squeeze puts a spotlight on food waste
                                                                                • Impact on the marketing mix
                                                                                  • Online channel will enjoy a lasting boost
                                                                                    • Figure 14: Selected behaviour changes since the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak, 16th April-23rd April 2020
                                                                                  • COVID-19: Market context
                                                                                  • Issues and Insights

                                                                                    • Consumers taking action to reduce food packaging
                                                                                      • The facts
                                                                                        • The implications
                                                                                          • Seven in 10 want environmentally-friendly rating system for packaging
                                                                                            • The facts
                                                                                              • The implications
                                                                                                • Packaging waste in the environment is biggest waste concern
                                                                                                  • The facts
                                                                                                    • The implications
                                                                                                    • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                      • UK set to miss 2020 target for recycling
                                                                                                        • Progress made on plastic reduction
                                                                                                          • New advice on compostable packaging
                                                                                                            • Binary recycling labelling being rolled out
                                                                                                              • Plastic tax coming in 2022
                                                                                                                • Ease of opening more important to older population
                                                                                                                  • Progress made on reducing food waste
                                                                                                                    • COVID-19 pandemic boosts demand for retail food packaging
                                                                                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                                                                                      • UK set to miss 2020 target for recycling
                                                                                                                        • Figure 15: Recycling rates for waste from households in England, 2010/11-2018/19*
                                                                                                                      • Progress made on plastic reduction
                                                                                                                        • New advice on compostable packaging
                                                                                                                          • Binary recycling labelling being rolled out
                                                                                                                            • Plastic tax coming in 2022
                                                                                                                              • Ease of opening more important to older population
                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2014-24
                                                                                                                              • Smaller households need smaller packs
                                                                                                                                • Figure 17: UK households, by size, 2014 and 2019
                                                                                                                              • Progress made on reducing food waste
                                                                                                                                • COVID-19 pandemic boosts demand for retail food packaging
                                                                                                                                • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                  • Plastic removal top of retailers’ agendas
                                                                                                                                    • Fruit and vegetables a major focus for plastic reduction
                                                                                                                                      • Retailers make big progress on removing black plastic
                                                                                                                                        • Packaging-free aisles trialled
                                                                                                                                          • New packaging accounts for more than a quarter of launches
                                                                                                                                            • Half of launches feature environmentally-friendly packaging claims
                                                                                                                                              • Plastic still the dominant packaging material
                                                                                                                                                • Compostable packaging is limited
                                                                                                                                                  • Re-sealable is a major element of convenient packaging
                                                                                                                                                    • Brands partner with Terracycle for hard-to-recycle packaging
                                                                                                                                                    • Industry Strategies on Packaging

                                                                                                                                                        • Plastic removal top of retailers’ agendas
                                                                                                                                                          • Tesco announces targets to reduce plastic
                                                                                                                                                            • Asda aims for 30% recycled plastic by end of 2020
                                                                                                                                                              • Iceland and Unilever cut plastic packaging
                                                                                                                                                                • Fruit and vegetables a major focus for plastic reduction
                                                                                                                                                                  • Aldi trials reusable bags for fruit and vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                    • Asda tests coating to boost shelf life
                                                                                                                                                                      • Iceland trials plastic reduction approaches
                                                                                                                                                                        • Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s look to loose produce and paper bags
                                                                                                                                                                          • Retailers make big progress on removing black plastic
                                                                                                                                                                            • Packaging-free aisles trialled
                                                                                                                                                                              • M&S trials refill aisles in two stores
                                                                                                                                                                                • Asda plans ‘test and learn’ store
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Waitrose Unpacked
                                                                                                                                                                                    • ‘Clear on Plastics’ campaign unveiled by WRAP
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sainsbury’s Net Zero by 2040 target
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                        • New packaging accounts for more than a quarter of launches
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 18: New launches in the UK food market, by launch type, 2015-19
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Half of launches feature environmentally-friendly packaging claims
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Environmentally-friendly packaging claims mostly about recycling
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 19: New product launches in the UK food market carrying environmentally-friendly packaging and recycling claims, 2015-19
                                                                                                                                                                                          • 1% claim 100% recyclable
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Examples of new food launches making ‘100% recyclable’ claims, 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Paper wrapper for snack bars and component recycling instructions stand out
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Higgidy Family Kitchen Spinach & Pine Nut Pie and 100% recyclable packaging, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Few launches call out use of recycled plastic
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Moves to reduce or replace plastic in food packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: New launches in the food market, by package material, 2015-19
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 23: Examples of new food launches highlighting using less plastic, 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Plastic-free claim remains rare
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Compostable packaging limited despite consumer interest
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Examples of new food launches with compostable packaging, 2019/20
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Premium ready meals opt for wooden trays
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Examples of new launches of ready meals using wooden trays, 2019/20
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Re-sealable is a major element of convenient packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: New product launches in the UK food market carrying convenience claims, 2015-19
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Few launches explore ‘no mess’ convenience
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Examples of new food launches with ‘no mess’ packaging, 2019/20
                                                                                                                                                                                              • On-the go claims remain steady in food launches
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brands partner with Terracycle for hard-to-recycle packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Ocean plastic people’s biggest concern
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Food waste is second biggest concern
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Being easy to recycle is important to two thirds of people
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • A quarter see keeping food fresh for longer as important
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Re-usable containers most likely to be used for pasta/rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Use-by or best-before dates the most checked information
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Huge stated preference for loose fresh fruit/vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumers taking action to reduce food packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • People want more from local recycling services
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Seven in 10 want environmentally-friendly rating system for packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Top Concerns Relating to Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ocean plastic is biggest concern
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Top consumer concerns relating to food packaging and waste, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Waste to landfill and littering are also big concerns
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Most Important Attributes for Food PackagingTargeting zero waste to landfill for end-user waste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Supporting local clean-ups an opportunity for snack food brands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Food waste is the second biggest concern
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Few people think about CO2 emissions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Most Important Attributes for Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Being easy to recycle is important to two thirds of people
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Strong interest in recyclability
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: Most important attributes of food packaging, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Recycling depends on local services
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • A quarter see keeping food fresh for longer as important
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Likely Usage of Re-usable Containers When Shopping in Supermarkets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Re-usable containers most likely to be used for pasta/rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Chilled foods spark least interest
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Foods people think they would be likely to use re-useable containers for when shopping in supermarkets, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Major retailers trialling packaging-free aisles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Information Checked on Food Packaging When Shopping

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Use-by or best-before dates the most checked information
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Information people check on food packaging when shopping, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Four in 10 check list of ingredients on packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • A third check packaging for nutritional content
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Country of origin important for a quarter of people
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Behaviours Related to Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Huge stated preference for loose fresh fruit/vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Eight in 10 report preferring loose fresh produce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Shelf life and convenience matter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • COVID-19 puts the spotlight on hygiene
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 32: Behaviours related to food packaging, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Consumers taking action to reduce food packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Two in five report switching brands for sustainable packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • A third interested in smart technology connected to packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Usage of on-pack QR and AR features is low
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes towards Food Packaging

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • People want more from local recycling services
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Attitudes towards food packaging, February 2020
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Seven in 10 want environmentally-friendly rating system for packaging
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Limited edition packaging benefits from catching the eye
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 34: New launches in the food market, by claim, 2015-20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: New launches in the food market, by package material, 2015-20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        About the report

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Competitors

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Market

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Innovations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The Trends

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Description