As DuPont Packaging Global Marketing Director Yasmin Siddiqi finished her keynote address on opening day of the PAC Packaging Consortium’s “A Day in the Life” symposium, she posed a question to the 150 or so packaging professionals in attendance: “What’s holding back our efforts to reduce food waste?”

Nearly half said ‘consumer perception of packaging’ with the balance split between ‘ambiguity in terms of overall goals’ and ‘affordability/cost’ (see chart 1).
Sixty percent of the packaging industry leaders, brand strategists, designers and key decision makers in attendance said food security is very important to their business.
“Consumer perception of packaging is a pervasive issue and one that needs to be addressed from every angle in the value chain,” says Siddiqi.  “The packaging industry is well-positioned to prevent food losses and waste – we need to amplify the positive impact we can have on this challenge to help break down some of those negative perceptions.”
Part of the issue can be redressed if packaging is viewed holistically, she said. “If you examine packaging in a microscope, you can miss the real story,” she adds. “For example, food waste has a huge environmental impact because most of the food in landfills contributes to global warming by emitting methane, which is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Add to that the environmental impact of lost food in terms of wasted water and energy, and you start to see that one pound of food saved has a significant human and environmental impact.”
Packaging, according to attendees, can best mitigate food waste by extending shelf life, 43 percent; protecting the contents, 36 percent; facilitating freshness, 17 percent; and by helping ensure appropriate portions, 4 percent (see chart 2).  
Further, the exit poll showed that attendees believe the packaging industry can positively impact food waste throughout the value chain, with a greater impact downstream (see chart 3). 
“Food waste occurs in all areas of the supply chain and requires a collaborative collective effort to identify hot spots, evaluate corrective actions and educate accordingly,” says James D. Downham, president and CEO of PAC, Packaging Consortium.  “PAC is a trusted neutral actor, our process is transparent collaboration and we are committed to leading this important initiative."