Tetra Pak research study reveals food safety-environment dilemma fostered by COVID-19 pandemic

1 December 2020

Food safety is a major issue for society, according to more than two-thirds of the respondents
Concern for the environment is substantially ahead of everything else, except COVID
Globally, 77% of consumers see food waste as a key challenge

Tetra Pak has unveiled findings from its global research study, in partnership with Ipsos[1], showing that food safety is a major issue for society. The same amount of respondents believe that COVID-19 is a “real threat.” At the same time, concern for the environment remains strikingly powerful[2], pointing towards a dilemma in the consumers’ minds as they try to balance the critical priorities of human existence through safe food and sustainability of the planet we live on.

The Tetra Pak Index, in its 13th edition, has seen a 10% increase in global concern about food safety and future food supplies, now at 40%, compared to 30% from 2019. In addition, more than 50% of consumers not only believe that improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers, they see it as the number one issue that companies need to tackle now and in the future. According to this year’s research, health is deeply connected to heightened issues of food safety and hygiene: with two-thirds of consumers saying that being healthy is being safe and 60% of consumers globally saying they worry about the food they buy being hygienic and safe.

When asked what is key for them in a package, consumers indicate that ensuring food safety is its main purpose. They also express concerns about environmental innovations in packaging impacting food safety, even though the majority of respondents indicate ‘using sustainable packaging’ as one of the top issues food and beverage brands need to tackle – today and tomorrow.

Adolfo Orive, President and CEO, Tetra Pak, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo, accelerated trends and created a new landscape of consumer needs and opportunities for companies to build on. In particular, the industry needs to address the growing dilemma around food safety and the environment, stepping up towards the twin goals of meeting the human need for food while protecting our planet’s ecosystem. This is where food packaging can play a strong role in bringing about harmony.

Working closely with our customers and stakeholders, we are already on a journey to create the ultimate sustainable food package - a carton package that is made solely from responsibly sourced renewable or recycled materials, is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral, allowing ambient distribution and meeting food safety requirements. We see this as a critical step in building a sustainable future for the next generation, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

The Tetra Pak Index 2020 also highlights how food waste is rising up the agenda and this is now seen as a concern by more than three-quarters of respondents. The impact of COVID-19 on supply chains has accelerated awareness of food waste as a pressing issue. There is a likelihood that this sentiment will grow going forward, as the world strives to feed its growing population. Consumers cite food waste reduction as both the number one environmental issue they can influence themselves and one of the top three priorities for manufacturers. But confusing labelling is a barrier, offering brands a chance for better communication. 

Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor at Yale University, comments: "This year’s Tetra Pak Index highlights emerging consumer and social concerns that we see increasingly mirrored by academic research. With a growing global population set to require up to 70% more food by 2050, at a time when biodiversity, climate change and food security are becoming ever more pressing, there is an urgent need for change. Bold initiatives such as those taken by Tetra Pak to rethink future food packaging are therefore the need of the hour.”




Notes to Editors

Download the 2020 index here 

Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor at Yale University, is Chair of Tetra Pak’s Sustainability Advisory Panel. Convened in September 2020, the independent Panel was formed to advise the company on aspects of its sustainability strategy within the business, broader industry and beyond. Meet our advisors.

The findings of the 2020 study, conducted by Ipsos, have been compiled based on data from the following inputs:

Global consumer research: A global survey of over 8,500 consumers from Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and USA (n=8501). Results were collected through June - July 2020 from a minimum of 1000 respondents in each market surveyed.

Social intelligence: An online social media study analysing approximately 75,000 online consumer conversations in USA and India over the 24 months leading up to June 2020, including both text and image-based data sources.

Desk research: A thorough review of existing data and reports.

Supplemental data sources: The data collected for the 2020 Index Report has been supplemented with data from Tetra Pak’s latest environmental survey, the Consumer Environmental Trends Report 2020. Conducted in July 2020, the survey is comprised of a total of 4,800 consumer interviews based on an online questionnaire in 16 markets: Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK and USA. 


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