Rising inflation and price hikes have caused consumers to become more aware of their purchasing decisions.
Additionally, consumer understanding of sustainability is higher than ever. Up to 45% of consumers are prioritising brands that are committed to operating an environmentally friendly business. As a result, many have become selective about what they buy.
This consumer trend is also clear in the specialty coffee sector. More consumers want to learn about coffee origins and whether the beans were ethically produced and sourced. While this is important, it also applies to a roaster’s choice in packaging.
As with coffee beans, the more direct the relationship between roasters and packaging suppliers, the better. Working directly with packaging specialists can not only help reduce costs, but provide roasters with a hands-on role in their packaging design and production.
As a result, roasters can ensure their packaging materials and accessories are sustainable, helping to ease the minds of customers.
Read on to find out more about the benefits of buying direct from packaging suppliers.
The relationship between packaging and trust
Trust is a major factor in getting customers to make repeated purchases from a roastery.
It can take years for a business to develop trust with their client base, and mere moments to lose it. As consumers have unlimited access to more information, making false claims or greenwashing practices can have negative consequences for any business.
Notably, one in three customers is willing to leave a business due to a negative experience. Therefore, it is essential that the experience a coffee creates matches the business’s narrative.
For instance, if a roaster prides themselves on sourcing coffee from sustainable farmers, their choice of packaging should echo this commitment to eco-friendly practices.
Businesses who neglect to do this may face backlash from their customers. This is, unfortunately, what happened with the Genuine Tea Company: a third wave tea company from Toronto, Canada.
The company sells premium bagged and loose-leaf tea that it fairly and equitably purchases from farmers.
As the owners thought their packaging was earth friendly, they directed customers to place it in standard blue recycling bins for disposal. However, the chosen packaging material cannot be recycled this way in Canada.
Once customers began to complain about these misleading claims, the company switched to biodegradable packaging materials. That said, this material could also not be placed in recycling bins.
Eventually, the company settled on a third, more expensive packaging material that omits any claims around recyclability. The entire process negatively affected customers’ perceptions of the Genuine Tea Company – even though the owners were not at fault.
Why is working directly with packaging suppliers better?
Businesses can partner with packagers directly to ensure their packaging aligns with their sustainability claims and values.
Associate analyst at GlobalData George Henry says sustainable packaging is important because it directly impacts customers behaviour after consumption.
“The onus has shifted to brands to ensure they source only from packaging providers that are genuinely committed to sustainability,” he said in an article for Packaging Gateway.
This can take place in a number of ways.
A roaster’s choice in printing inks is just as important as their choice of packaging material.
This will affect how easily the packaging material can be de-inked after use, and its impact on the environment.
Traditional printing inks, such as plastisol, are high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can contain plastics or polyvinyl chloride, which are derived from petroleum fuels. As these inks dry, they produce emissions that may contribute to air pollution, and be harmful to human health.
Alternatively, roasters can partner with a packaging supplier that uses water, soy, or vegetable-based solvents that are fully biodegradable.
Choosing a flexible packaging such as paper can help roasters use fewer materials and source it all from one supplier, which can further reduce overall packaging costs.
Furthermore, roasters can choose a pouch shaped coffee bag that is available in a range of shapes and sizes, such as side-gusseted pouches. These are compatible with automated filling machines.
Alternatively, flat-bottom pouches provide more space for advertising or essential information about the coffee.
It is important for roasters to note that sustainable packaging materials, such as paper, do not provide effective barrier properties by themselves.
As coffee needs protection from humidity, moisture, heat, oxygen, and light, roasters may need to include a sustainable lining material. This lining can help protect the coffee and may prevent it from being damaged during transit if it is purchased online.
Reducing product returns can help eliminate packaging waste and reduce the environmental costs of repackaging and distributing an online order. It is estimated that returning and reshipping a damaged product uses around 6.5 litres of fuel, while emitting 13kgs of carbon dioxide.
Additionally, roasters may want to add resealable zips or degassing valves to their coffee bags. For those using sustainable packaging material, these accessories will also need to come with clear disposal instructions.
Roasters are free to work with separate suppliers to print, package, and accessorise their coffee bags. However, working with a single packaging supplier is a more effective option, as it will streamline the process and result in both time and money savings.
This can make the process easier for micro roasters or those who want to start off with a smaller packaging run.
A supplier that can address questions and concerns, and explain the packaging process from start to finish, can help roasters better understand the procedure. Roasters can then use this insight to communicate their packaging’s benefits to customers.
The team at MTPak Coffee can assist you with this process. We work with specialty coffee roasters from all around the world, providing sustainable packaging services that range from concept and design to manufacturing, printing, and delivery.
Furthermore, our kraft paper, rice paper, LDPE, and PLA pouches are fully sustainable. All our pouch types can be customised to suit your needs, including side gusset bags, flat bottom bags, and quad seal pouches.
Additionally, our recent investment in the HP Indigo 25K Digital Press gives us the ability to print across a wide range of sustainable coffee packaging types, including compostable and recyclable bags.
This allows roasters to continue providing their customers with an environmentally friendly product without compromising on materials or designs. It also opens the door to fully customised coffee packaging for micro roasters and those offering limited edition coffee. Rather than being tied to a single design over thousands upon thousands of bags, roasters can order as little as 500 bags, which they will receive within a few weeks.
Our range of high-quality recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable packaging options will preserve the freshness of your coffee and showcase your commitment to sustainability. You can also include additional recyclable components, including degassing valves and resealable zippers.