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Sustainability divisive in the snack foods industry

According to a new study by PMMI Business Intelligence, snack food manufacturers are wrestling with sustainability, particularly in the areas of material usage and recyclability.

Sustainability divisive in the snack foods industry
Sustainability divisive in the snack foods industry

Material usage

  • Single serve and lower case count are trends in high demand – these trends require smaller packages, but the associated unit material usage, and thus costs, are typically higher.
  • “SKU explosion” – the proliferation of products and product sizes - means more changeovers & downtime, therefore inefficiencies must be reduced to compensate. Reducing material usage is one way of achieving this goal, and it also helps achieve sustainability goals, which can be used from a marketing perspective to improve brand image.
  • “Our #1 focus is on optimizing [usage] of packaging space, i.e. finding ways to wrap primary and secondary packaging more tightly around contents, allowing for reduction of material use and costs. Innovation in primary and secondary equipment is needed to make this happen,” said one respondent who is a packaging R&D manager at a savory crackers CPG.


  • Research is finding that the desire for “sustainable packaging” is growing especially among younger consumers, but “science has not caught up yet.”
  • “Today materials that can be recycled are not in demand by other industries post-consumer use,” said one project manager at a large CPG.
  • Multiple CPGs & OEMs who responded to the study have mentioned that “lack of packaging sustainability is not currently an obstacle to purchase,” a view that could impede a decision to get on board with sustainable packaging. Said one packaging purchasing manager at a nuts manufacturer, “Sustainable materials for packaging is a customer-driven [i.e. retail] as opposed to consumer-driven phenomenon for CPGs.”

Source: PMMI Business Intelligence “Snack Foods – Packaging and Processing Market Assessment and Trends 2018”

For more details about the snack foods market as it pertains to the packaging and processing industry, download the FREE Executive Summary or the full report here.

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