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Sustainable packaging: Lisa Owen, global business leader, rigid packaging, for Cargill Dow LLC, talks about the opportunities for retail growth of products sold in this new packaging material.

What are the current trends in the sustainable packaging category?

Lisa Owen: The top trend in sustainable packaging is rapid retail growth. Sustainable packaging choices like NatureWorks PLA are quickly gaining momentum in the retail marketplace. Just last year, Wild Oats Markets was the first North American retailer to launch NatureWorks PLA. Today, the nature-based packaging is on grocery store shelves across the country in a diverse range of store formats including natural food sellers, high-end regional stores and divisions of national retailers. These early adopters are finding nature-based packaging to be an effective marketing tool for generating department and item sales. Fresh food packaging from nature is really a very simple concept, but it packs great marketing punch. In the consumer's mind, food contained in NatureWorks PLA is fresher and more wholesome--a perception that creates value for retailers by increasing interest and brand awareness where they need it most: at the point of sale.

Consumers are intrigued by the notion of packaging made from corn and want to see, touch and try the new containers. Imagery of fields, farms and corn create quick and powerful visuals that appeal to shoppers and invite them to learn more about the new packaging.

In addition, NatureWorks PLA is an easy substitution from the retailer and consumer perspective. It features the expected performance of conventional packaging, plus an interesting story that appeals to consumers' need to feel better about the complete food products they purchase.

What has consumer reaction to this type of packaging been?

The fresh-in-natural concept speaks to consumers' aspirations to do something better for their families and the environment. Market research shows that customers overwhelmingly prefer the nature-based packages over traditional petroleum-based plastic containers. Not only are they more environmentally appealing, but consumers view food to be fresher and more wholesome when it is contained in nature-based containers.

Retail results with NatureWorks PLA confirm consumer preference for natural packaging. Wild Oats has found the customer goodwill generated by NatureWorks PLA to be simply outstanding--recording a 4% jump in deli sales in the first three months after the debut of NatureWorks PLA in the Portland, Ore., area. What is also exciting is that 60% of Wild Oats Markets customers in the region returned their containers for composting. Those are tremendous numbers for a customer loyalty program.

What types of products are using this packaging for retail?

Available in both disposable containers and film, NatureWorks PLA is targeted for fresh-cut and whole produce, salads and cold deli items, sliced meats and cheeses, baked goods like cakes and cookies and other fresh foods. In addition, NatureWorks PLA can be used for film carrier bags and disposable tableware items such as cups, bowls and cutlery.

In these perimeter departments, branded packaging is an important element in creating value-added products that command interest and loyalty from customers. This is where cutting-edge packaging technology like NatureWorks PLA can give you the advantage. Nature-based packaging is a simple, yet effective, way to take products beyond commodity items and stand out at the point of sale.

What should retailers know about the packaging?

In addition to its fresh-in-natural branding story, NatureWorks PLA has performance benefits that make it ideal for fresh food applications. The packaging is crystal clear and non-fogging to showcase the freshness and quality of food. High-strength rigid containers like punnets and trays protect perishables in retail displays. NatureWorks PLA film offers excellent printability and strength and has a distinctive crisp sound that conveys the idea of freshness to consumers. And, for both rigid and film applications, the cost of NatureWorks PLA is comparable to traditional packaging materials, especially when consumer appeal is considered.
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Title Annotation:Deli/Prepared Foods
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Article Type:Advertisement
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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