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CPMA podcast digs into produce and plastic

If you haven’t caught the CPMA Produce Talks podcast lately, you missed a great one talking about plastic.

As you might know the Canadian Produce Marketing Association has a plastics working group, and has identified plastic as a key initiative to address. To that end, the organization worked with Abacus Data to conduct a study of the consumer perceptions of plastic in produce packaging.

The podcast features Ian Brodie, CPMA’s manager of education David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, Crystal Howe of Ice River Springs, a company that produces 100% recycled plastic water bottles.

Key highlights from Abacus Data’s research, point to a clear majority of Canadians strongly believe the industry needs to reduce single-use plastic, and the perception is consistent across age groups and geographical regions, Coletto said.

“They want action…but one of the questions that we want to explore is people don’t recognize there is potential consequence in reduction,” he said. “They want to reduce plastics, they want to do what’s right for the environment, but at the same time we get into all of these things that plastics can provide,” like quality, freshness and food safety.

Researchers used strawberry clamshells as a test, gauging perception of the ubiquitous old-fashioned green fiber containers versus plastic clamshell punnets.

“What was interesting was most people thought that the cardboard basket was the better choice for the environment,” Coletto said. “Even when they thought the clamshell might be better on certain attributes.”

Consumer perception of the efforts the industry is taking to minimize plastic also is discouraging.

“Seventy percent of respondents said they don’t feel the industry cared enough about finding ways to minimize plastic,” he said.

And that means it’s ever more important for produce to talk about the why and how of plastic use and reduction.

You can listen to the podcast on apple or android or via a web-based player:

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.