Consumers Remain Concerned About Food Packaging and Safety

G&S Business Communications Survey Shows Evolving Trends

Consumers Remain Concerned About Food Packaging and Safety
Digital Exclusive

Late in the fall, G&S Business Communications updated its national survey of consumers to see how COVID-19 continued to change their habits and found that about 58% remained at least somewhat concerned with contracting the virus through food packaging.

That number was down from 66% in April 2020, says Brian Hall, managing director for G&S. The survey also found that 41% of the respondents said they have been washing food packaging with disinfectant during the pandemic, and 25% said they will continue to do so post-pandemic.

“In April, 44% of consumers said they were disinfecting food packaging, so this remains relatively consistent,” Hall says in an email sent to the Flexible Packaging Association in December after the survey results were released.

Hall highlighted other trends involving the packaging industry that the survey found:

  • More than half —56%—say they have increased the frequency of their deliveries from online purchases since the beginning of COVID-19; and
  • Among those who increased their frequency of deliveries, 63% say the increase in deliveries has made them more concerned about packaging waste.

G&S Business Communications published the survey results on November 20, 2019. (Visit the G&S Communications blog to see the full post.)

“Consumer concerns about contracting the coronavirus through their food and/or food packaging seem to trend downward among older respondents, suggesting that younger consumers are more attuned to risks of exposure,” the blog says. “Interestingly, while stores across the country have set aside dedicated ‘senior hours’ for older consumers to shop and purchase groceries, it may be the younger consumers to whom companies should target their next wave of communications about the safety protocols set in place to protect their food supply.”

The blog also notes that a shift to online grocery shopping might not be for everyone and might not continue for those who shifted during the pandemic. “Particularly when it comes to food, consumers may simply prefer to shop in person.” The survey showed that post-pandemic, the percentage drops slightly for those who expect to continue ordering groceries online for delivery and pick-up.

The G&S Snap Poll was conducted online in October. Food, healthcare, and finance sections sampled 1,041 adults, while the home renovation and manufacturing sections sampled 1,050 adults, according to G&S. Hall says that the survey will continue to be updated in 2021.

Hall has written about the role of the pandemic on packaging, including a look at how safety and security were dominant concerns during the crisis. His column—“Is Safety the New Sustainability for Food Packaging?”—appears online and in the September/October issue of FlexPack VOICE™.

Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE™.