Welcome to the 14th edition of the Tetra Pak Index, which shows how the global pandemic has “rewired” today’s consumers, forcing them to rethink their priorities and behaviours, as they seek a more resilient and sustainable future. It also underscores the need for a more purpose-driven global conversation and urgent, concerted action to bring about positive change.
COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of our daily lives – our health, the overall economy, businesses and supply chains, as well as our personal freedom. The uncertainties caused by the pandemic remain, with many viewing 2021 as an extension of 2020. As we all continue to adapt to the evolving situation, this year’s Index explores how consumer motivations are changing worldwide and explores the trends that will remain relevant in the post-pandemic world.
The overall concerns of consumers have not changed significantly – health, the environment and the economy continue to dominate. But what has evolved is consumer habits and their attitudes towards these concerns. There is much greater demand for action throughout society, with consumers far more willing to adapt their behaviour on a daily basis, with the expectation that governments, businesses and other institutions need to play a greater role in helping them with this change.
At Tetra Pak, we believe that the food industry has a clear opportunity here. By putting these new demands at the heart of our business decisions, we can work with our customers, partners and stakeholders to create new longer-term solutions.
New consumer priorities
The economic fallout of the pandemic is directly impacting behaviour. Consumers are now more conscious of the affordability of goods and there has been a shift back to basic categories, notably dairy products, fruits and vegetables. But despite financial and health worries, concern for the environment is as strong as ever – particularly around climate change, as evidence of its impact continues to grow.
With consumers spending more time in-home, they have become increasingly aware of levels of household waste. They are keen to take steps in response, notably around food waste – a fast-growing issue. It’s a good example of how consumers are adjusting their lifestyles in practical, everyday ways to make a positive difference. There is also a visible rise in traditional “back to basics” values such as home cooking and eating with the family, as well as a new appreciation for meaningful connections with friends, family and beyond.
Having been denied freedom and choice by the pandemic, consumers want to regain control of their lives in whatever ways they can. That applies both to their own lives – to boost their physical and mental wellbeing through better dietary choices – and to the environment around them, such as by recycling more. As they look to the future, they see the post-pandemic recovery as an opportunity to create a greener, safer and more secure world – a hope that is felt particularly strongly in emerging markets.
Towards a better tomorrow
Responding to these needs and expectations requires long-term focus and a system-wide collaboration from all stakeholders. The UN has already called the 2020s the “Decade of Action”, emphasising the need to act now.
As a purpose-led company and a global industry leader, we remain fully committed to playing our part. We believe that the world’s food systems need to transform to meet the future needs of society, improving food security while reducing the impact on natural resources. We therefore aim to focus on three key areas: increasing access to safe, nutritious food; reducing food loss and waste; and building more sustainable value chains.
This is not new territory for us. Our vision has always been to commit to making food safe and available, everywhere. But we believe we can do more, which is why we are not only driving net zero in our operations but also working to develop the world’s most sustainable food package – one that is fully renewable, fully recyclable and carbon neutral.
I hope you enjoy this year’s Index and find its insights valuable. I look forward to working with our customers, suppliers and industry stakeholders to realise the opportunities it presents.
President and CEO, Tetra Pak