Wrap it up

Government agencies are quick to tell the food supply chain to cut down on food packaging.

The Environment Agency in its recent Spotlight report says,

'From the rise in recycling rates, we know that people are becomin g greener and keener to do the right thing with their rubbish but the overall amount we produce keeps going up and we need to do more to reduce it in the first place.'

Whose fault is that? Can the food supply chain really be blamed and are consumers totally blameless? The food supply chain's reply would be no to both questions and it would say it should be praised for the responsible action it has taken, and is continuing to take, to use reusable, refillable and recyclable materials.

I am sure it would be more than happy to minimise packaging as it would mean taking out some of the packaging costs. It seems to me that the Agency is failing to realise this has to be done without compromising essential protective and preservative functions which ensure goods are delivered safely from producer to consumer. In the end, if there is food failure who will be held accountable - it certainly won't be the Environment Agency.

It must be remembered that, for consumers, attractive presentation and convenience are important factors in purchasing decisions. I would also question whether the Environment Agency has taken on board the changing demographics that show the number of people living on their own has gone up. Time-starved adults are looking for shortcuts in the kitchen and that means more demand for ready meals and convenience food. Looking to the future. this trend is only likely to continue as workers postpone their retirement and work into their sixties and seventies.

The food supply chain is doing what it can to meet its obligations but it can't do this on its own.