New research reveals decarbonisation efforts have faltered in the wake of economic upheaval

In the face of increased economic uncertainty across the UK and Ireland, new research from Tetra Pak reveals food producers and manufacturers are facing an uphill struggle to prioritise sustainability efforts.

The study of food and beverage managers, directors and business owners, found 93% will prioritise other issues as a result of the current socio-economic climate. Despite more than a third (36%) considering the pursuit of sustainable packaging as important, and 70% believing their organisation should be doing more to address sustainability issues, respondents admitted other factors would have to be addressed first in the next 12 – 24 months. With almost three quarters of respondents believing their organisation should do more to address the topic of sustainability in 2023, the top hurdles preventing such efforts included:

  • Supply chain challenges/disruption (40%)
  • Rising fuel and operational costs (28%)
  • High investments in supporting technologies required (20%)

As a fifth of food and beverage managers, directors and business owners raised concerns that their organisation is ‘too complacent’ about sustainability and climate change, 20% also stated that over the last two years, their organisation has not made the progress in relation to these issues they had once hoped for.

The macroeconomic challenges currently being faced in the UK and Ireland, come at a time when consumers are showing high levels of support for companies that demonstrate a commitment to lowering their carbon footprints and offering sustainable packaging options. Two thirds of consumers in a separate study commissioned by Tetra Pak, say they ‘highly value’ companies that are taking steps to reduce their CO2 output, with 68% highly valuing companies that take steps to provide recyclable packaging options for food/drink products, and use renewable materials.

Opinions on the decarbonisation efforts of food producers and manufacturers have altered amongst 43% of consumers as well (13% ‘significantly so’) since the start of 2022, with a third of consumers now stating they pay more attention to the issue because their feelings on sustainability have grown. Over a quarter (27%) have seen their feelings on the need for society to recycle become stronger too.

Findings from Tetra Pak’s study conclude that almost half (46%) of managers, directors and business owners at food producers and manufacturers believe the current government can do ‘much more’ to provide help and guidance to organisations on the topic of sustainability.

Alex Henriksen, Managing Director North Europe, Tetra Pak, comments, “Our research clearly demonstrates the weight of socio-economic pressure currently facing food producers and manufacturers in the UK and Ireland. With numerous factors now influencing decision making, one area that simply cannot be overlooked or postponed, with potential to shape the world we face tomorrow, is how we as a society facilitate a global shift towards a circular economy. Awareness of the benefits of environmentally responsible packaging has increased amongst consumers in 2022, with a significant portion of those in industry admitting they had expected their organisation to be further along the path to progress here than where they stand today. It is our belief as an organisation, that we must continue to collaborate and work together to find innovative packaging solutions that build towards a more sustainable future for all. The consequences of a lack of action today, are simply too great to comprehend.”

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