Demand for Plant-Based Foods Boosting Packaged Food Market
It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Public opinion has been a sleeping giant, but now, it has started to awaken and see the unsustainability of plastic. Approximately 40% of our plastic usage is used up to the food market, and now, some innovators have started looking for interesting ways to avoid using the material. However, it’s still hard to imagine stopping using something as useful as plastic.
It’s versatile, affordable, and can be produced in numerous ways. It does a good job of protecting your food, and it can also be substituted with heavier and costlier materials like glass, metal, or wood.
So what should companies do? The obvious answer would be moving away from something as harmful as plastic or using reusable material. That said, this solution isn’t practical for several kinds of plastic types, at least not yet.
The Alternatives for Plastic Packaging
But what is sustainable-alternative plastic? Is this material biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable material? Yes, and several options like these exist today, and some of them are already being used in the market. But since the market for plastic alternatives is still growing, is every approach mutually exclusive? If it is, which one is better?
Bioplastic is an approach that has recently received a lot of attention. This is a kind of plastic made from biological sources compared to traditional plastic made from fossil fuels. One prominent benefit of bioplastic is that it can be composted while maintaining the versatility of traditional plastics. This convenience factor is essential to the nature of this industry. That said, bioplastic is just one of the different kinds of plant-based packaging you can opt for in your food business.
Here are the rest:
Cellulose is an organic compound found inside the cell walls of a plant. It is derived from trees, hemp, wood pulp, and cotton, and it can be morphed into several different packaging materials. This material can be air and water-resistant. It can also vary in hardness and thickness to withstand heat.
Cellulose is usually used for netted food, cellophane, and film. Some of the most common applications can be seen in:
- Bath products
- Dried fruits bags
- Biscuit boxes
- Coffee beans
- Dried Beans
- Tea leaves
- Sugarcane Bagasse
Bagasse is the dry and pulpy residue that remains from crushing sugarcane. It can be used as biofuel for producing heat, energy or electricity. Bagasse produces pulp with physical properties suited for printing paper, plywood, cardboard, newspaper, furniture, and biodegradable plastics. Products made from bagasse need less energy and cause reduced pollution compared to plastic products. Foodservice packaging can also be produced from sugarcane bagasse.
- Mushroom Mycelium
To use mushrooms for packaging, fungus sprouts are mixed with seedlings. Mycelium has a natural wire-like adhesive that forms a network. This natural material has identical properties to synthetic foam plastics, also known as Styrofoam.
This material is easy to mould, lightweight, and remarkably easy to produce. It can be used to create scaffolding, organic plastics, packaging materials, footwear, and clothing. It can also act like polystyrene foam, though it is more durable and stronger.
Understanding the Audience You’re Catering To
If you plan on incorporating plastic-based packaging to cater to the demand boom, you’ll first have to be aware of the audience you’re catering to and their preferences. Are your packaging products for vegetarians or vegans? Are you thinking of inspiring carnivores to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets? It’s essential your food’s packaging has the relevant messaging for the audience you’re speaking to.
First, let’s define these different audiences and the messaging that may resonate with them.
- Carnivores eat meat, which may also include fish and poultry. These people may have been catching the whiff of the discussion surrounding plant-based foods, but they may be skeptical about the taste and the quality of the food. Plant-based foods substitutes for eggs, meats, and dairy may be more appealing to this segment of the audience – particularly if experience and taste aren’t sacrificed. This kind of crossover is becoming increasingly popular since alternatives for meat are seen on the menus of fast foods more often now.
- On the other hand, Vegetarians eat plant-based foods and eggs, honey, and dairy. Even though they may have already eaten several plant-based foods, it’s possible they’re still interested in moving even more towards the plant-based spectrum or vegan eating. Dairy substitutes and plant-based meat may be appealing to this audience. The environmental aspect can also be a strong reason for desire here since plant-based foods have a reduced impact on the environment and don’t harm animals either.
- Pescatarians are also vegetarians, but they also eat fish meat. Their interest in plant-based food can be similar to that of vegetarians.
- Vegans exclude all forms of animal food from their diet (honey may be an exception for some since it comes from the bee). It can also be the case that some vegans prefer whole foods and have reduced interest in animal or dairy substitutes or even packaged vegan food.
- Flexitarians can eat meals that vary between all meals we’ve mentioned above.
- The last group you should be paying attention to is those attracted to plant-based foods and have food allergies or intolerances to an animal ingredient. This is why plant-based foods may be attractive to these people.
Knowing your audience from this perspective can help you get a clear idea of who you’re talking to, and it can help you send out the correct message that your audience will relate to.
As the demand for the plant-based market increases, the packaged food market is seeing an increase, too. Consumers are focusing on eating healthily during COVID, and some of the world’s biggest packaged food companies are now investing heavily in plant-based products, too. However, it’s also essential to remember that all types of packaging have environmental and human aspects throughout their life cycle. Even though the plant-based packaging option offers ample benefits, there are several applications in which glass, plastic or metal packaging has had the lowest environmental impact.
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