Downsizing its Easter egg packaging has delivered a surprising number of operational as well as environmental benefits, Cadbury has revealed.
Cadbury has cut the packaging weight of its shell egg range by 40% in the last three years by using smaller boxes and using recycled polyethylene clam shells to hold the eggs in place rather than rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC), according to packaging commercialisation manager Brian Stow.
While reducing its packaging by 2,000t over this period had obviously saved money, Cadbury had also been able to increase the number of eggs loaded onto pallets and increase facings of the eggs on supermarket shelves, said Stow, who was speaking at the Food and Drink Federation’s Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery conference last week.
“On large eggs, we used to get 150 on a pallet. This Easter we’ll get 360 on a pallet. For our Easter Creme Egg cartons, we’ve gone from 420 to 630 on a pallet and from two to three facings on-shelf. This has delivered big benefits because we can use less shelf-ready packaging, reduce our transport costs and get more on shelf, which also aids replenishment for the retailer.”
Crucially, scaling down packaging had not dented sales, he added. “The smaller packs are still seen as gift-worthy.”
Carbon footprint labelling
While these measures had helped Cadbury significantly reduce its carbon footprint, there were no immediate plans to introduce carbon footprint labelling to its packaging, said Stow.
Peter Skelton, retail account manager at Waste & Resources Action Programme, added: “Obviously, until we see a lot more products carrying the labels, they are going to be of limited value to consumers because people can’t compare products. But even then, would it be part of the purchasing decision? I don’t know. Would it make you switch from cheese and onion to ready salted?”
‘Best before’ dates
Separately, firms in the biscuit and snacks sector could do more to ensure a more consistent approach to ‘best before’ date labelling, he said. “Often you’ll see the same products with different ‘best before dates, often because the retailers have different policies on this. So I would say to retailers and manufacturers: be more consistent. Let’s have the longest shelf-life possible.”
It was also important to re-evaluate ‘best before’ dates over the lifecycle of a product, added Stow at Cadbury. “Often you’ll launch a new product and be fairly conservative about the ‘best before’ date. But if you keep monitoring it over a period of time, you might be able to come back to it and revise the shelf-life from nine to 10 months. There is a tendency to launch products and then forget about this aspect.”