(Photo by Ashley Nickle)

Consulting firm Category Partners surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that 72% said they don’t mind buying produce in plastic packaging or they actually prefer to do so.

Thirty-six percent of consumers said it does not matter to them whether produce comes in plastic packaging or not, while 19% of people said they prefer to buy fresh produce in plastic packaging. Another 17% placed themselves somewhere in between those two options, according to a news release.

On the other end of the spectrum, 17% of consumers surveyed said they avoid buying produce in plastic packaging whenever possible.

Plastic packaging often provides benefits including convenience and enhanced food safety, quality and shelf life, but there has been pushback as some consumers worry about the environmental implications of more plastic.

“As retailers push more and more toward plastic packaging in the fresh departments, many consumers are on board,” Cara Ammon, director of research for Category Partners, said in the release. “Whether for convenience, value or food safety, many shoppers like this move toward plastic.

“But it is also important to remember there are a significant number of shoppers out there who — whether for health or the environment, or they just need less of a given item — prefer their fresh foods to be bulk or packaged in some other material,” Ammon said. “It is important to give these shoppers options as well.”

Younger shoppers are more likely to prefer produce in plastic packaging, while shoppers at least 65 years old are the most likely to avoid plastic for all fresh departments.

Consumer attitudes toward plastic packaging also differed depending on income level.

“With the exception of the $100,000-$150,000 earners, avoidance of plastic generally increases as income increases,” the firm wrote in the release. “About one-quarter (26%) of shoppers earning $150,000 or more said they avoid plastic when buying bakery items, and one-third (32%) said they avoid plastic when buying produce.”

Household size also appears to play a role in how people feel about plastic packaging.

“Across each of the fresh departments, more than 40% of respondents living in five-person households said they prefer plastic,” Category Partners wrote. “The one notable exception was five-person produce-buying households, 36% of whom said they preferred plastic. Respondents from two-person households are most likely to avoid plastic, ranging from 15% avoidance in the deli to 24% avoidance in produce.”

More coverage of plastic in produce


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