How certifications on coffee bags boost customer loyalty

Mounir Afkir
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April 18, 2024

The number of eco-conscious consumers continues to grow, and sustainable brands have become more critical than ever. Several studies show that consumers are willing to spend more on products made by brands focused on sustainability. 

However, terms such as “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” are often used as marketing buzzwords, so how can consumers trust the brands they’re investing in?

Certifications on coffee bags are an accredited, accessible, and effective way to inform customers that the business and its practices are truly ethical. Certified coffee packaging helps create transparency within every stage of the supply chain while demonstrating that the business adheres to voluntary standards regarding environmental, social, ethical, and food safety issues. 

Beyond this, certification on coffee bags can go a long way in building customer loyalty.  Daria Vorslova, the sales account executive for Ally Coffee, and Phillipe Dewolfs, the business manager at TÜV Austria, share their thoughts. 

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How certified coffee bags boost consumer loyalty

Several studies indicate that packaging design can provide visual cues that‌ play an important role in influencing customer purchase behaviour. A recent poll found that 72% of consumers say packaging design influences their purchasing decisions. These figures show how essential custom packaging has become in setting a brand apart and boosting sales. 

Adding certifications to custom coffee bags shows the packaging aligns with the integrity and ethics of the business, which promotes trust and confidence in consumers. Certifications can also help a product stand out and attract customers who share the brand’s values. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO): “Coffee certifications can demonstrate to consumers that coffee has been produced sustainably and can increase its market value if there is sufficient demand”. 

Beyond this, certified coffee bags can influence how customers perceive the product’s value. Notably, a recent study found that consumers are willing to pay a premium of €1.481 per 250g for the Fairtrade label and €1.379 per 250g for the UTZ label. 

Fairtrade is a certification programme that ensures coffee farmers receive above-market prices – provided they meet specific economic, social, and environmental criteria. The certification is well-established and widely recognised, which has helped it garner consumer confidence. 

A number of “Fairtrade” organisations exist that have similar objectives but often differ in focus and approach. “Fairtrade certification was created as a third-party certification,” explains Daria, who is also a WBC judge and Q-Arabica Grader. “This was to ensure a farmer gets a minimum fair wage, a premium to a market price.

“[That said], certifications imply additional costs for all subsequent players along the coffee chains – especially on those responsible for educating consumers about the use of these certifications, such as roasters and baristas,” she adds. 

UTZ is a certification programme for the sustainable farming of coffee, tea, cocoa, and hazelnuts. This programme enables farmers to use better farming methods, grow better crops, and generate more income. Additionally, they learn how to improve working conditions, adapt to climate change, and better protect their local environment.

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Which certifications should you aim for?

In the coffee industry, some certifications may reference the packaging materials, while others are generally used to prove a specific coffee is grown or purchased in an environmentally, socially, or financially sustainable way.

Several certification logos are often found on coffee packaging, such as:

  • USDA Organic Coffee: Within the US, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for certifying organic coffee. That said, several verifications must be made to ensure the coffee is of a high standard prior to a brand receiving the certificate. For instance, the coffee must be identified as organic, which means no synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides were used during the growing phase.
  • Rainforest Alliance Certification: The organisation’s primary focus is to improve agriculture from both an environmental and socio-economic standpoint. In addition to focusing on workers’ rights and fair pay, this certification ensures farmers use eco-friendly methods of farming to ensure the protection of the local environment.
  • Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI): This is the leading North American authority on compostable packaging materials. For compostable certified coffee bags to carry the BPI mark, they must adhere to the standards laid out by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which governs any products labelled as compostable in North America. 
  • OK Compost: This certification guarantees that all packaging components, including inks and additives, are compostable in a specialised facility. For coffee bags to receive an OK Compost certification, they must undergo rigorous evaluation and maintain strict quality standards. Coffee bags that showcase the OK Compost Home certification are completely biodegradable in a garden’s compost heap.

“We work with local authorities and the government to audit compostable packaging, too,” explains Phillipe, who has worked at TÜV Austria for over four years. This extra scrutiny helps to keep the certification’s reputation and assure the public of the transparency of OK Compost-certified bags. Therefore, OK Compost certifications have various standards and labels for products dedicated to industrial and home use.

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Understanding consumer coffee packaging preferences

A recent Amcor survey determined the factors that would prompt European consumers to make repeat purchases. Notably, taste and aroma topped the list at 84%, followed by price (73%), pack size (54%), and packaging sustainability coming in at 48%. The survey also found that 23% of European consumers have stopped buying a product because of poor packaging. Among younger generations, the figure sits at 37%.

Predictions show the coffee packaging industry is anticipated to exceed $991.6 million by 2027. Notably, research shows that overall trends in coffee packaging are shifting towards paper. A 2023 consumer survey from Two Sides Europe provides essential insights into this trend. The survey questioned over 10,000 consumers in 16 countries across the world to “provide an assessment of consumers’ attitudes and beliefs towards the paper industry and its products.” 

The results compare consumer’s preferences for paper/cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal across a range of environmental, visual, and physical attributes. The survey revealed consumers showed a preference for paper in 10 out of the 15 attributes in the survey. Notably, respondents favoured paper/cardboard for environmental factors such as home compostable (76%), better for the environment (55%) and easier to recycle (49%).  

At MTPak Coffee, we offer recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable coffee packaging solutions made from natural sources such as kraft paper, rice paper, and LDPE with an eco-friendly PLA lining. We also give you the freedom to personalise every detail of your packaging, and our design team is always ready to help when needed. 

For more information on certified sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team. 

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Mounir Afkir
Mounir Afkir

Mounir is a Belgian living in Panama. After saying goodbye to a successful corporate career, he turned his passion and knowledge for nutrition, Chinese medicine, phytotherapy, and writing into his full-time focus. Mounir is also passionate about wine, and even more about speciality coffee and is the proud owner of Mounelli Specialty coffee-bar in Boquete.

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