The introduction of a number of restrictions, including curfews/lockdowns, social distancing measures and foodservice closures, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in 2020, meant that consumers were spending a lot more time at home in 2020 than they would normally, and therefore also preparing more meals themselves in their homes. This led to an increase in the consumption of all product areas in processed fruit and vegetables due to the shift from consumer foodservice to retail that lasted for much of 2020.
Frozen fruit recorded declining sales in 2021, as consumers no longer felt the need to stockpile as lockdowns ended and restrictions eased, and were also preferring to buy fresh fruit. This negatively impacted the unit volumes of flexible plastic and folding cartons used in the packaging of frozen fruit in 2021, although thin wall plastic containers continued to record strong growth in this product area.
The packaging industry solved the BPA (Bisphenol A) issue over the review period. This molecule is contained in plastic materials – notably the inside coating of metal tins and cans – and has already been the cause of a major scandal in the EU due to its dangerous secondary effects in microwaved plastic packages.
The emergence of flexitarian lifestyles, combined with increasing demand for natural and nutritionally balanced products, is generally supporting demand for processed fruit and vegetable packaging. Glass jars is benefiting from this, with consumers’ desire for products that appear more authentic and have a traditional production process boosting sales of glass jars.
Retailers around Europe continued to work on reducing or eliminating the use of plastic trays in some of their inventory, with some players already doing so, eg Aldi. The German retailer has stopped using black plastic trays for its fruit and vegetables range in Ireland, in favour of 100% recyclable versions such as cardboard, reducing its amount of plastic waste considerably.
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