Survey Reveals Clean/Sanitary Packaging Important to Consumers

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The Foodservice Packaging Institute released its second Consumer Perceptions on Foodservice Packaging Report to better understand the general consumer’s use and perception of single-use foodservice packaging. To discover those consumer perceptions and provide feedback to its members, FPI commissioned a third-party to conduct a survey to find out how frequently people use single-use packaging and their perceptions and behavior choices related to foodservice packaging, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The spotlight has grown and remains focused on single-use foodservice packaging, particularly throughout the past year,” said Natha Dempsey, president of FPI. “We wanted to better understand consumer perceptions around these packaging products and compare them to our first consumer survey conducted in 2019. We also wanted to find out how, or if, the pandemic affected their perceptions of foodservice packaging.”

In the survey, respondents were asked if the COVID-19 pandemic influenced their perception of potential benefits, concerns or attributes of single-use foodservice packaging items. In both the U.S. and Canada, the clean and sanitary nature of single-use foodservice packaging items increased in importance for the highest percentage of respondents, followed by the protective/tamper-proof properties, although less than 40% said this would continue after the pandemic.

Reaffirming results from 2019, being leak- or spill-proof and stopping oil or grease from soaking through and staining clothes, car seats, etc. remain the most important attributes of single-use foodservice packaging for U.S. and Canadian respondents.

Results also showed that more than 50% of adults in the U.S. and Canada use single-use foodservice packaging at least once a week. This represents a slight decrease from 2019 results for U.S. and Canadian respondents. Within U.S. respondents, survey results in both 2021 and 2019 show that those with the highest income remain the most likely to use single-use foodservice packaging every day, and higher education appeared to correlate to higher use.

Participants were asked questions about how frequently they use single-use foodservice packaging; their beliefs about the importance of performance attributes in single-use foodservice packaging; benefits and concerns they have about single-use foodservice packaging and their reusable counterparts; their behavior choices related to foodservice packaging; environmental issues; and, new in 2021, the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each question was analyzed looking for significant differences in responses across demographic groups and frequency of using single-use foodservice packaging, and from the 2019 survey.

The final report includes input from 800 respondents in the United States and Canada balanced across income, education level, gender and region. This sample provides a statistically representative view of the beliefs of these populations with a 95% confidence rate with a plus/minus 5% margin of error.

FPI members and contributing participants received complete survey results. A complimentary executive summary of the report is available on FPI’s website. Please contact FPI’s Natha Dempsey with any questions.