The overall aim of this study was to understand the effect of sustainable food packaging on a consumer’s attitudes and purchase behaviour. The aim of the study was broken down into four research objectives to analyse consumers’ attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable food packaging. These included the importance of sustainable packaging, willingness to pay more, the creation of a differential advantage for manufacturers, and the relationship between knowledge and subsequent behaviour.
The research objectives were answered through the use of a mixed methods approach, comprising of both quantitative and qualitative research through 192 consumer questionnaires, three semi-structured consumer interviews, and one semi-structured interview with an industry specialist. The primary data collected enabled the researcher to analyse and understand the research objectives in depth and create explicit conclusions.
The results concluded that a consumer’s knowledge about environmental issues does not greatly impact their purchase behaviour towards sustainably packaged food products. Further to this, it was found that packaging sustainability is not an important product attribute in comparison to other attributes such as price and quality, however, it was established that the importance of sustainable packaging is expected to grow in future years. It was also deduced that the majority of consumers are willing to spend more for food products that are sustainably packaged. Finally, the research concluded that consumers are likely to form a negative association with a brand due to their unsustainable packaging.
From the findings, a number of implications for food manufacturers were consequently suggested. It was advised that manufacturers should adapt their overall brand image to become sustainably focused rather than simply adapting the packaging. It was also recommended that they should ensure that the packaging is clearly labelled as being sustainable, and finally, it was advised for them to keep the prices of their products consistent when modifying the packaging to become sustainable.
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