Consumer demand for sustainable packaging alternatives has been growing over the past few years. When it comes to food and beverage packaging, glass offers quality, health and sustainability, attributes that resonate strongly with consumers around the world.
Research shows consumers prefer glass packaging—especially for nonalcoholic beverages, beer, condiments, preserved foods and wine—and consider it a premium option. According to a June 2011 Omnibus survey, 85% of consumers say food and beverages taste better when packaged in glass containers, while 69% say if they could choose to buy their favorite foods or beverages in any type of container, they would choose glass.
Ninety percent of consumers also agree that glass is the healthiest packaging available because it does not leach into the product. Glass is made from all-natural materials—limestone, sand and soda ash—that combine to make a natural, nontoxic packaging material. And because glass is chemically inert, it protects the purity and flavor of foods.
“Consumers find glass superior in preservation and safety, and it’s the only packaging material ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) by the FDA," says Miguel Yanez, director of marketing, O-I North America, Inc. “The transparency of glass allows consumers to see a product and its ingredients, and shows that the brand owner has nothing to hide, is confident in its product and is trustworthy."
Glass packaging also is versatile because it can move seamlessly from shelf to microwave to table to refrigerator.
“Glass extends packaging life by allowing users to serve, store and display items in glass containers when contents are gone, and it also allows portion control and resealability of food and beverages," says Yanez.
He notes there are misconceptions associated with glass weight leaving heavy carbon footprints when transported; however, in reality, transporting finished glass containers comprises only 4% to 5% of the complete carbon footprint of glass packaging. In fact, O-I’s lifecycle assessment for glass packaging shows that the returnable, refillable glass bottle has the lowest carbon footprint of any widely used packaging material.
Glass is a compelling option for food and beverage manufacturers because it elevates brand appeal regardless of product category or cost. According to Datamonitor, 75% of U.S. consumers believe glass packaging creates an image of prestige and premium branding. More companies are answering this consumer demand for glass with retro, innovative and sustainable packaging initiatives that increase their brand's shelf appeal. Most recently, Heinz ketchup made a limited-edition glass bottle (via O-I) showcasing the original, iconic packaging. Similarly, MillerCoors introduced the Vortex® glass bottle (via O-I) that won the prestigious Industrial Design Excellence Award. The Wine Group was honored for "Excellence in Sustainability" for using O-I’s Lean+Green® lightweight wine bottle for their Oak Leaf brand.
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