Tetra Pak today unveiled the findings from its yearly global research study, in partnership with Ipsos, showing that food safety is a major issue for many consumers.

The same amount of respondents believe that COVID-19 is a "real threat." At the same time, concern for the environment remains powerful, pointing towards a dilemma in the minds of consumers as they try to balance the critical priorities of human existence through safe food and sustainability.

In its 13th edition, the Tetra Pak Index claims to have uncovered a 10% increase in global concern about food safety and future food supplies, now at 40%, compared to 30% in 2019. In addition, more than 50% of consumers not only believe that improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers, they see it as the number one issue that companies need to tackle now and in the future.

According to this year's research, health is deeply connected to heightened issues of food safety and hygiene, with two-thirds of consumers equating being healthy with being safe and 60% of consumers globally saying they worry about the food they buy being hygienic and safe.

When asked what is key for them in a package, consumers indicate that ensuring food safety is its main purpose. They also express concerns about environmental innovations in packaging impacting food safety, even though the majority of respondents indicate 'using sustainable packaging' as one of the top issues food and beverage brands need to tackle – today and tomorrow.

The Tetra Pak Index 2020 also highlights how food waste is rising up the agenda and is now seen as a concern by more than three-quarters of respondents. The impact of COVID-19 on supply chains is believed to have accelerated awareness of food waste as a pressing issue. Tetra Pak says that there is a likelihood that this sentiment will grow going forward, as the world strives to feed its growing population.

Consumers cite food waste reduction as both the number one environmental issue they can influence themselves and one of the top three priorities for manufacturers. But confusing labelling is a barrier, offering brands a chance for better communication. 

Adolfo Orive, president and CEO of Tetra Pak, comments: "The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo, accelerated trends and created a new landscape of consumer needs and opportunities for companies to build on.

“In particular, the industry needs to address the growing dilemma around food safety and the environment, stepping up towards the twin goals of meeting the human need for food while protecting our planet's ecosystem. This is where food packaging can play a strong role in bringing about harmony.”

The full 2020 Tetra Pax Index can be downloaded here.