Sustainability and product freshness are key factors in selecting the right packaging materials to not only protect dairy products but also control costs and improve consumer experience. Dairy processors need to keep in mind the role packaging plays in these key consumer demands.

Americans continue to value recycling as an important process that positively impacts the environment, according to a national survey that included nearly 2,500 U.S. adults, conducted for the Carton Council of North America. It showed that 90% of respondents believe recycling is important and people should do what they can to recycle. This is an important consideration when selecting packaging materials.

In addition to recyclability, dairy packaging requires special care and attention to maintain product quality. One of the most important factors to consider is the ability to maintain the freshness of the product. The packaging of any dairy product needs to deliver the natural dairy taste and freshness consumers expect, and should have a unique natural appeal as well as extend the shelf life of the product.

The multilayers of flexible packaging

To that end, four of five end users participating in the Flexible Packaging Market Report released late last year by PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, said they look for flexible packaging with multilayer characteristics. The second most-desired property was freshness. The two go hand-in-hand as multilayered flexible films offer enhanced barrier properties – like those that extract oxygen from a bag or keep light from degrading a product – that are aimed at preserving freshness.

But while these materials deliver on the freshness front, there are concerns regarding recyclability of flexible films, particularly those that are multilayered in order to achieve the high barrier properties required in many dairy applications. According to an engineering director at a material supplier who participated in the PMMI survey, “the more layers, the higher the price from converters and the less it can be recycled.”

These types of films are not easy to separate and present a challenge for recycling centers that are often ill-equipped to handle every type of material. Brand owners are looking to materials suppliers to provide more sustainable films that are not-petroleum based and either recoverable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

Given these consumer expectations of freshness and sustainability, dairy manufacturers should consider some key factors and strategies to build brand loyalty with environmentally conscious consumers:

  1. Consider consumers’ environmental concerns. Specifically, environmental concerns around recycling, helping reduce household waste, and interest in the use of renewable resources.
  2. Let consumers know about environmental considerations of your packaging. Consider on-package labels and directions about recycling and disposal options.
  3. Enhance your brand’s image through packaging. Tell your brands’ environmental story to enhance a brand’s reputation and reinforce eco-friendly priorities. Communicate messages that shoppers consider important.
  4. Speak to freshness and sustainability. Show consumers how packaging protects the product and can support efforts to reduce the environmental impact.

Find ideas at Pack Expo

Dairy brand owners seeking the latest processing and packaging technologies around sustainability and enhancing product freshness can find them at Pack Expo International (McCormick Place, Chicago, Nov. 6 to 9). The show will be co-located with Pharma Expo and together the shows will feature more than 2,500 exhibitors and draw 50,000 attendees. In addition to exhibitors demonstrating the latest equipment and material innovations, attendees will have access to the Innovation Stage and its free educational sessions from industry leaders.

To register for Pack Expo, visit Attendees will have access to both Pack Expo and Pharma Expo with one badge.