Consumers green up to a point; FTC enforcement lags
Tax virgin PET, green chemist says
Survey: Consumers mistrustful over safety
Costco exec: Private label on a tear
French whipped cream makes decorating easy
Chili bottle keeps it simple


Consumers green up to a point;
FTC enforcement lags


by Pan Demetrakakes
Executive Editor

Consumers want ecologically friendly packaging, or say they do, but set limits on how much inconvenience they’re willing to endure for it, according to a new study.

By bare majorities, respondents to the study by Ipsos Marketing named reusing containers (51%) and looking for recycled material in packaging (50%) as their most popular “green” strategies. However, only 38% said they would use downsized packaging that’s less convenient, and only 31% said they would cut back on their use of single-serve packaging. The online survey comprised about 1,000 interviews in 18 countries, including the United States.

“Consumers want packaging to be recyclable, yet they are wary of using economy sizes and other packaging alternatives that might interfere with the convenience of the product,” says Amaury de Condé, Ipsos’ senior vice president.

Meanwhile, enforcement of federal standards for consumer goods making “green” claims is lax, even while the number of such claims has been skyrocketing, according to a report in USA Today.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidelines in 1992 that cover such things as biodegradable packaging. The number of green claims for consumer products has soared since then. USA Today monitored consumer-goods ads in six major magazines and found that such claims rose from 2.4% of all ads in 1992 to 10.4% in 2008.

However, enforcement actions dropped from at least two a year in 1992-2000 to almost none under President Bush. Since May 2000, the FTC has taken action against only three companies for alleged false green claims.

“There has been little to no enforcement of the 1992 guides,” environmental consultant Kevin Tuerff told USA Today. “They need to pick up the pace.”


TOP DEVELOPMENTS

Tax virgin PET, green chemist says
Virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) should be taxed to encourage the use of recycled material, according to James Clark, a chemistry professor from the Green Chemistry Network. Clark noted that virgin PET is significantly lower in price than recycled PET, and that a tax may be the only way to achieve parity between the two materials. A spokesperson for the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) was skeptical, telling foodproductiondaily.com that recycled PET carries an environmental cachet that is worth the extra money in many applications.

Survey: Consumers mistrustful over safety
Consumers are suspicious about food safety issues, with less than 20% saying they trust food manufacturers and retailers to furnish healthy products, according to a new survey by IBM. The survey also said that 60% of consumers expressed concern about food safety, and 83% were able to name a food product that had been recalled due to safety concerns over the last two years (46% cited peanut butter). Asked if they would be less likely to buy a food product after a safety recall, 49% said yes.

Costco exec: Private label on a tear
Private-label packaged goods have been selling so well that they’re forcing brands to reduce prices, a Costco executive says. Speaking to investors during a recent conference call, Richard Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Costco Wholesale Corp., said Costco is seeing huge increases in private label penetration. Private label penetration at Costco has risen 10% to 15%, compared with normal increase of less than 1%, Galanti said, adding: “That increased penetration of private label is equal to the decline in the sale of those branded items.”


NEW PACKAGES

French whipped cream makes decorating easy
Whipped cream sold in France comes in a tapered metal aerosol can for ease in decorating cakes and other desserts. The litho-printed container, from Elle & Vire in Bordeaux, France, features a plastic trigger dispenser. The 200-gram container comes in Crème Entière (whole cream) and Crème Legere (light cream) varieties and retails for a suggested $2.61.



Chili bottle keeps it simple
Packaging for dried chili peppers uses clarity and simplicity to show off the product to maximum advantage. La Collina Toscana, a food importer based in New York City, is marketing dried, ground chili peppers in U.S. department stores. The 6.3 ounce glass bottle, sealed with a metal screw cap, is labeled only with a large “C” above the word “chili.” The product, introduced last month, is part of a line of spices with similar packaging.