Sainsbury's potato packaging

Shoppers expect organic packaging to be more environmentally friendly than non-organic according to new research.

A survey carried out by Soil Association alongside England Marketing revealed that where produce was packaged, 67% expected organic to be packaged in a more environmentally friendly way than non-organic.

Although packaging was not the primary motivation for buying organic, shoppers expressed frustration with what they perceive to be excessive wrapping of products.

Their figures also showed that 30 per cent of shoppers would buy more organic products if it was sold loose, rather than pre-packed.

Clare McDermott, business development director for the Soil Association said packaging could soon become a “headache” for organic companies as the public demand for environmentally friendly products rises.

“While the issue of excess packaging and plastic waste doesn’t appear to be affecting purchasing decisions in the organic sector yet, growing awareness of the problem suggests a headache could still be around the corner for organic producers.

“The higher expectations shoppers have of organic packaging presents a real opportunity for the organic sector, though to lead from the front and for those producers and retailers that are able to come up with innovative solutions to set themselves apart from the field.”

The survey also showed a majority of consumers preferred produce sold in paper, with an equal preference for recyclable plastic and cardboard, followed by biodegradable, but that 72% of people find it hard to identify when packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.

McDermott suggests this represents another opportunity for producers: “Producers need to be telling shoppers about the sustainable packaging they’re using, and why they’re using it. Consumers are looking for more information than just a logo stuck on the packet. If producers can make it clear that they are thinking about reducing waste and show how they are doing it, it’s a real chance to engage shoppers with their products.”

Around 38 per cent of Brits buy organic produce weekly, following six years of growth into a £2.2billion market.

Finn Cottle, trade consultant at the Soil Association, said that data for 2018 is “still showing a rising trend”.