August 5, 2015

Waste & Food Packaging

food wasteAs I mentioned last week, there’s been a ton of talk lately about the sheer quantity of food that is being thrown away. Sadly, it’s endemic throughout the supply chain from the farmers and grocery stores that have to discard ‘less than perfect’ produce to the chef or home cook tossing away carrot top greens or letting produce accidentally rot before it can be eaten.

In addition to maximizing your ingredients and working hard to ensure that nothing goes to waste (because, remember, every time you throw something away you are potentially throwing away money), there’s another piece of the food waste issue that is of growing importance to food entrepreneurs.

Specifically, if you are a food producer who makes a product that is in some way packaged, there is a ‘cost’ to the environment for that packaging. In a 2011 study, it was reported that Americans throw away 570 pounds of food packaging every single day!

That number is a bit frightening and it’s one that has many food entrepreneurs asking what they can do to change that number, even if it’s just by a fraction, with their packaged product.   Granted, this is a tricky slope because we know that consumers are as influenced by the packaging – especially if they are purchasing for the first time or purchasing as a gift for someone else – as they are by the contents inside.

So, how do you manage this balance?  Have you made a commitment to ‘green’ packaging even if it comes at a higher cost to you?  Or have you determined that you’re not in a position to worry about this yet?  Or have you gone half-and-half – doing as much as you can now to use eco-friendly packaging even if that may not encompass all of your packaging?

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2 comments on “Waste & Food Packaging

  • Debra B on said:

    I have considered this and have a less than perfect solution as it includes then using a cellophane bag. My initial product is sold in a tin. I tell my customers to keep that tin and next time buy a refill bag. The refill bag is then thrown away so it is a less than perfect solution. My thought is that the tin causes more waste than the cellophane bag. It’s also less expensive for the customer. The only other solution would be a store the customer could bring their tin to and refill it there. I only have online and Farmer’s Market sales at this time though.

    • Jennifer on said:

      I love the idea of inviting folks to ‘refill’ their tins at a cost that is lower for them (providing them with value & trying to incentivize repeat customers) while also keeping the environment in mind. Thanks so much for sharing this idea!