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Emotions and rationality of consumers in the world of soft fruit packaging Part 1/3

Part 1: Sustainability

Consumers' view of sustainable packaging, and their purchasing behaviour

To what extent is sustainability and sustainable packaging truly important for consumers? Do consumers actually follow through on what they claim to purchase? What do consumers name as being important, and how do they act in a simulated purchasing situation?

In order to answer these questions, NNZ, market leader in vegetable and fruit packaging, recently conducted a large-scale survey in Germany (more than 300 interviews and 11,700 purchasing stimulations). NNZ conducted the survey using packaging materials for blueberries and strawberries. The initial results of the survey into strawberries and strawberry packaging options were presented and enthusiastically received at the European Packaging Forum in Düsseldorf.

'Our survey is an absolute must-read for retailers, growers and suppliers engaged in the soft fruit sector', says Alies Padding, Innovation Manager at NNZ, the packaging network. 'It provides insight into the associations and purchasing criteria for packaged soft fruit, and it will not come as a surprise: consumers do not actually buy what they claim to buy! Also clear is that consumers refer to sustainability of plastics, cardboard and pulp packaging options with great emotion but little knowledge. Consumers have little knowledge or association with the environmental hallmarks on the packaging. During the survey, many people expressed a desire for clear explanation of the appropriate waste flows for the packaging. This is an opportunity for the branch to contribute to our joint targets of 100% recycling of packaging in the near future. Above all, it became clear that consumers care most about the quality of the soft fruit, and that all other criteria are subordinate to this. And as we all know, the primary function of the packaging is to protect the quality and to prevent food wastage in the supply chain, respectively. The survey predicts the percentage of consumers that will choose a certain type of pulp, cardboard or plastic packaging, and why'.

In the near future, NNZ will be publishing not only this article on AGF.nl but also 2 further articles in which the findings of the survey will be shared.

In this first part, we discuss the results of consumer views of sustainability and sustainable packaging, based on the following questions:

  • To what extent is sustainability truly important for consumers?
  • Sustainability and sustainable packaging, what do consumers know and understand in that sense?
  • Environmental hallmarks, what do consumers know and understand in that sense?

To what extent is sustainability truly important for consumers?

The survey shows that 35% of the respondents claim not to want to buy products in 'lots of packaging' because this is not environment-friendly. In 2013, this was 25%.

Sustainability and sustainable packaging, what do consumers know and understand in that sense?

The concepts concerned in sustainability, such as “carbon footprint" and "biodegradable” are not fully understood. And when it comes to the sustainability of packaging materials, respondents are relatively confident in terms of their knowledge of sustainability of cardboard packaging. In reality, they actually know very little. When it comes to plastic packaging materials, respondents are less confident regarding their knowledge of sustainability, and comments tend to be limited to: “causes too much plastic waste” and “harmful for the environment”. To summarise, consumers are poorly informed when it comes to sustainability in general and the sustainability of the various packaging materials. There is plenty of ground to be won here for the branch and the political sector, therefore.

Environmental hallmarks, what do consumers know and understand in that sense?

Of the hallmarks provided in the survey, German consumers were only aware of the numbers 4 and 13 below. Generally speaking therefore, we can assume that these environmental hallmarks have little influence on purchasing behaviour.

However, 90% of the consumers say that they would appreciate a simple explanation on the packaging, in order to be able to separate waste packaging materials effectively. NNZ is looking forward to discussing this with branch colleagues and retailers.

In the following article, we describe the emotional and rational criteria that influence purchasing decisions when it comes to packaged strawberries.

NNZ also conducted the same survey for blueberries and blueberry packaging options. Interested in the results? Feel free to contact us.

NNZ the packaging network
Alies Padding
+31 6 21221154
Aarhusweg 1
9723 JJ Groningen
The Netherlands


NNZ is a multinational company owned and run by the family Boot since 1922. Its employees create packaging solutions for their clients in the fresh produce and industrial market. In 1922 NNZ started trading jute bags from 'Pakhuis Libau' in Groningen (The Netherlands), the start of a family business with international ambitions.
Today, NNZ has grown into an organisation with more than 250 employees, serving clients from offices in Austria, BeNeLux, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA.
In close cooperation with our partners in 40 other countries NNZ provides packaging solutions to a worldwide customer base.