Sustainability is a growing issue among American consumers, and grocery shoppers are no exception. According to a new study released this spring by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Deloitte, 54 percent of shoppers demonstrated that they actively consider environmental sustainability characteristics in their buying decisions.
Here are some important findings:
• 95 percent of shoppers are open to considering green products
• 67 percent looked for green products, while only 47 percent found them
• 22 percent actually purchased some green products on their shopping trip, highlighting the need for better shopper marketing programs to close the gap
• A significant minority of committed and proactive green shoppers will pay a premium for sustainable products
So there are sound business reasons for both manufacturers and grocery retailers to pursue sustainability programs. There are also some challenges. Buyers are better informed than ever, and they quickly see through superficial efforts to come across as “green.”
Savvy grocery retailers know that being green now requires taking a holistic view of not only the products they offer, but also their internal sustainability practices and those throughout their entire supply chains.
So What About the Shelf Edge?
Tags, shelf talkers, and other printed materials at the shelf edge have their own carbon footprint. It defeats the purpose of promoting a locally grown, sustainable food product if you’re printing on paper harvested from an endangered boreal forest. Here are five essential tips for bringing greater sustainability to your shelf edge:
1. Use eco-sensitive digital printing. Digital printing systems use no plates, require virtually no make-ready waste and their toners are more easily de-inked in the recycling process. Originally relegated to very short runs, today’s commercial digital printing systems are capable of efficiently producing much longer runs. Bacompt uses digital printing exclusively to serve a wide range of grocers.
2. Learn about forestry certifications. Independent, third-party certification for environmentally and socially sustainable management of timberlands has led to vital, measurable improvements in the protection of forests, wildlife, and stakeholder rights worldwide as well as to the long-term economic viability of forestry operations. Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are the two leading certification organizations. Specifying certified papers assures that your shelf-edge papers come from forest resources that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
3. Consider recycled and alternative fiber papers. Recycled paper has come a long way in recent years and there are viable, cost-competitive choices for virtually any need. Inclusion of post-consumer waste is the key, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifies 30 percent post-consumer content for uncoated papers and 20 percent for coated stocks. There are also alternative fiber papers in development that come from sources such as fibrous agricultural byproducts like cereal straws and corn stalks that were previously treated as a waste stream. Kenaf and hemp are other non-wood fibers commonly used in other parts of the world.
4. Specify chlorine-free papers. Dioxins and other toxins and pollutants created by chlorine and its derivatives are generally referred to as chlorinated organic compounds. They have been associated with negative effects on human immune and reproductive systems as well as those of fish and other wildlife. Be sure to specify virgin papers that are totally chlorine free and recycled papers that are processed chlorine free.
5. Tell your sustainability story. Let shoppers know about your chain’s commitment to sustainability often and in as many ways as possible. For shelf-edge print materials, be sure to display the appropriate environmental symbols and select vendors that share your commitment.
Bacompt can help with your sustainability program.
Bacompt can partner with you to help make your shelf-edge print materials contribute positively to your sustainability program. Digital systems drive our processes from premedia through printing. And we’re able to advise you on the best choices of environmentally certified virgin papers, recycled stocks, and chlorine-free options. We can even introduce you to an innovative paper that your customers can plant and grow the seeds embedded in the stock, which would make a great complement to a special promotion. Just let us know your sustainability objectives for the shelf edge, and we’ll arrive at the best solution for you.