The demands for more environmentally-friendly products have forced manufacturers to rethink their communication strategy and develop products, which will satisfy consumer interest in greener products. This has resulted in a sharp rise in the number of products with an environmentally-friendly claim over the last five years. The trend is clear globally. In 2002, Mintel's global database recorded only five environmentally-friendly product launches across all sectors of industry. In 2007, 328 new products carried this claim, representing a 200 per cent increase, compared with 2006. Consumers particularly look for eco-friendliness in certain sectors, including household paper products (66 per cent) and energy efficient appliances (48 per cent). GNPD's global results show that 57 per cent of consumers look for eco-friendliness when shopping for food, which has forced the sector to focus on the development of environmentally-friendly products. In Europe, 161 new products in the beverage sector claimed to be 'environmentally-friendly' or to have 'environmentally-friendly packaging' in 2007, compared with only 10 in products listed on GNPD's database in 2006. A staggering 363 new food products in Europe listed on GNPD carried these two claims in 2007, compared with only 37 products in 2006. Although there is no standard definition of these terms, the results demonstrate that "more than ever, shoppers want to purchase goods that help protect and preserve the world around them", according to Mintel. For 'environmentally-friendly product" claims, GNPD lists all products that claim on their packaging that the product has some benefit to the environment. However, Mintel explained that different manufacturers will define this differently. The second claim 'environmentally-friendly-friendly packaging' is more straight-forward and includes bio-degradable or recyclable packaging. Globally, Mintel observed that consumers are increasingly looking for products that are not necessarily 'organic' or 'natural' but address other environmental concerns. It could be products by companies that support major health associations. This has forced companies to pay special attention to how their image is perceived and redesign their communication campaign. To respond to the consumers' interest in green products, a large number of companies have taken the opportunity to associate new environmentally-friendly packaging with a new brand image. H J Heinz, for instance, has recently announced that it had put its Heinz Tomato Ketchup in a lightweight recyclable PET bottle. At the end of last year, Innocent also put 100 per cent recycled PET packaging on shelf which, according to the firm also use 20 per cent less plastic overall than Innocent's original packaging. Both companies signed up to the Courtauld Commitment, which pledges to deliver absolute reductions in packaging by 2010. This has led to a big shake up in the supply of and demand for food-grade recycled PET. A rise in the demand for PET bottles, particularly in Europe, for fruit juice, nectar and non-carbonated drinks, is expected.
Research by Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that an increasing number of new products boast environmentally-friendly claims.