Sustainability has become a mainstream cause in America only recently, as a result of heightened media attention and increased consumer awareness of issues, including global warming, pollution and food safety. The Mintel report, “Packaging Trends in Food and Drink--U.S.--March 2009,” cites this is evidenced by manufacturers’ packaging-related sustainable efforts, such as reducing their carbon footprint, light-weighting, improving the base-line raw materials used in packaging, and recycling programs. Furthermore, consumers are demanding these measures. In 2009, 58% of respondents to Mintel’s custom survey said they believe that plastic bottles are “really bad for the environment,” and two thirds report they “usually” recycle plastic bottles and containers. This is an increase from the 46% who reported recycling in 2008. The majority of consumers believe manufacturers are partially responsible for plastic packaging, with only 8% saying that “if plastic bottles hurt the environment, it’s not the manufacturers’ fault.” Mintel GNPD shows manufacturers are increasingly launching products packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. In 2006, there were 80 global products making an environmentally friendly package claim, which increased to 9,362 in 2009, now comprising 6% of all global food and drink products. One manufacturer who has offered innovation in environmentally friendly packaging is Frito-Lay Sunchips. The bag is made from more than 90% renewable, plant-based materials, with the ability to break down completely in compost.

Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group; 351 W. Hubbard, 8th Floor; Chicago, IL 60610; call: 312-932-0600; fax: 312-932-0474; or e-mail