Changing consumer Behaviour

By Riad Beladi
Six months ago, whilst shopping in one of the supermarkets, something caught my eye: food packaged in a carton. I am familiar with Tetra Pak and I did know they package liquid food such as drinks, but this carton is a new way of conserving food. As a retail analyst and someone very interested in consumer behaviour, I started thinking how long it would take for this product to take over from the traditional tin can. It is an excellent idea on the logistical and environmental side, because it is easy to store at home, requires no tin opener, no metal in any rubbish bin. In addition to cutting down manufacturing costs it is also reducing the recycling weight.

It does take time to change consumer habits; we have been used to tinned food all our lives. Now a better idea has come along but it would take time for a complete switch.
Last week I was invited to visit Tetra Recart in Lund, Sweden. I visited a demonstration site and saw all the packing machines. I met Peter Jhaveri, Managing Director of Tetra Recart, and he offered me an interview.


ISN: Can you tell us what are the benefits from swapping the old tin to carton packaging?

Since the Tetra Recart packaging material has to be resistant to retort conditions (up to 130 degrees and 100% humidity) the carton fibres in the package has a higher density and the plastic used is polypropylene, compared to most aseptic packages which use polyethylene.

ISN: Can you tell us what are the benefits from swapping the old tin to carton packaging?

Tetra Recart provides consumers with increased convenience and a package which is easy and safe to open, light to carry and efficient to store. In addition, it is partly resealable for storage in the fridge, easy to dispose of and better for the environment.

For retailers, Tetra Recart can help reduce costs and increase efficiency across the logistics chain, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact.

The Tetra Recart package provides opportunities to differentiate, leveraging consumer perceptions that the package contains a fresh, natural, innovative, healthy and convenient product.

ISN: Obviously this requires an investment by the food processing company. How would you convince them to make the investment?

There is always a risk/reward balance for new investments which in the first instance come down to the business opportunity for the manufacturer and their appetite to lead and innovate.

Having said that, what we offer is an innovation that is cost competitive against the can, even taking into account the initial equipment investment required.

ISN: Looking at this product, I think it is a good idea both environmentally and logistically. What are the challenges ahead for this product?

As mentioned the industry needs to invest and build installed capacity where it is needed and this is a long term process.

Ultimately, it takes time to change established consumer and industry habits.

ISN: How does your product compare against the tin can as regards shelf life, production costs and recyclability?

Shelf life depends on the type of product in the package and quality expectations from brand owners and manufacturers. Generally speaking we recommend two years shelf life for most products.

From a production cost perspective, the overall Tetra Recart system is designed to be competitive versus the can equivalent, which allows us to address premium but also commodity products.

Finally, the Tetra Recart package is fully recyclable within existing waste recycling streams.