I’m fresh off a trip back to Australia, where I spent a good amount of my time eating all the favorite junk foods of my youth.
I always enjoy a nostalgic trip to a supermarket when I’m back in Oz, although it can become an expensive, and even embarrassing, undertaking when I show up at the cash register with a shopping cart (or trolley, for any Australian readers) full of food that's devoid of any nutritional value. While I head to the supermarket craving the tastes and treats of my younger years, I noticed several interesting new trends in the products, and of course the packaging, on my recent travels.
As with most of Europe and several US states, the use of plastic shopping bags has now been banned in Australia. In some states, this has been part of a total ban on single-use plastics that has taken effect in the last few years. As a result, I noticed a sharp increase in the prevalence of paper straws and food service packaging labeled recycled or recyclable.
I also noticed that several of my favorite confectionary brands, such as Jaffas, a delicious chocolate and orange flavored sphere from a local affiliate of Nestle, have transitioned from flexible substrates like film and foil to the use of paper bags. Thankfully, the BASF Printing & Packaging team is actively working on projects specifically for the Australian market where we can support effective, sustainable packaging that complies with these regulations.
Furthermore, our Joncryl HPB range of barriers is also very well equipped to support the plastic-to-paper conversion that is taking place across many world markets.
I was quite surprised to find carbon neutral food items on the shelves, such as meats and eggs, where the carbon emissions associated with the production have been offset with carbon capture elsewhere. This is not a cheap proposition, with the price almost double that of traditional products, but demand is growing for this sustainable option and the Australian beef industry has set the ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030.
It reminds me of our own Joncryl MB products where we have used the mass balance approach to offset our fossil resource use with bio-sourced resources, in some cases allowing our products to be fully carbon neutral.
One final thing I noticed was the prevalence of retail-ready packaging, or RRP, where a product is shipped through the retail distribution chain in a secondary package that is then set on the shelf upon arrival at the store.
Though this is already the norm in other regions, it’s still not common in US supermarkets. I would expect that this means more inks and coatings are used than in traditional retail distribution as not only does the product package itself need to look good aesthetically and have certain resistance qualities, but also the outside secondary package needs to look good on a crowded shelf and stand out against competing brands.
We’ve got many products in the Joncryl portfolio that enable the formulation of beautiful, resilient printing inks and coatings so I’m excited at the prospect that we are enabling the industry to implement this efficient and sustainable practice.
When you’re a member of this industry for any significant time, you tend to look at packaging differently. It was interesting to see how the nostalgic foods of my youth intersect with the products that I and the global team are working to develop and promote.
Now that I’m back in the US, I can reflect happily on the many great memories of the trip spent with friends and family while also confronting the reality of the many calories consumed over the last few weeks.
Until next time.
Read more print and packaging insights from our Head of Global Marketing, Resins for Paper, Simon Foster.