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Nielsen study tracks what consumers would be willing to trade for environment

BY Adam Kraemer

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. More than half of consumers in the United States would give up all forms of packaging provided for convenience purposes if it would benefit the environment, a recent study by Nielson discovered.

Among the packaging options Americans were willing to part with: packaging designed for easy stacking/storing at home (58 percent); packaging that can be used for cooking, or doubling as a re-sealable container (55 percent); and packaging designed for easy transport (53 percent).

While the study found that U.S. consumers are slightly more likely to give up packaging for convenience purposes than the average global consumer, it also suggested that more Americans are concerned about hygienic packaging than the rest of the world. One in ten U.S. consumers is not prepared to give up any aspect of packaging for the benefit of the environment, Nielsen reported.

“As global concern and awareness for the environment continues to grow, consumers worldwide are demanding more action from retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers to protect the environment,” said Shuchi Sethi, vice president of Nielsen Customized Research. “While eco-friendly packaging might not be the top priority for shoppers today, it’s certainly a growing priority the food industry cannot ignore.”

According to studies conducted using Nielsen’s proprietary pack research system, packs@work, food retailers and manufacturers do strive to meet consumer demand for more eco-friendly packaging solutions that minimize impact on the environment. “In more eco-aware markets, including the U.S., there is an increasing expectation of packaging with minimal environmental impact, although for most consumers, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a willingness to pay more,” said Sethi. “What most consumers expect is packaging that provides an added ‘feel eco-good factor’ by minimizing environmental impacts.”

“We are starting to see some backlash against plastics that are not recyclable, or whose chemical composition may lead to tainting or degradation of product quality,” Sethi concluded.

According to another Nielsen study of 65,000 U.S. households’ environmental attitudes:

  • More than half of U.S. consumers claim to recycle cans, bottles and/or newspapers all the time, with 20 percent doing so “most of the time.”
  • Roughly 40 percent of consumers will sometimes think to look for products with less packaging.
  • Nearly 80 percent of consumers make a point of combining shopping trips to save gas most, if not all of the time.
  • Sixty percent of consumers buy used or refurbished products to reduce waste and materials consumption at least some of the time.
  • Nearly 60 percent make an effort to buy fruits and vegetables at a local farmers’ market.
  • Approximately two-thirds turn down their thermostats to conserve fuel most or all of the time.

Nearly 7,000 consumers in 47 markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East responded to Nielsen’s packaging and environment survey. Of those, nearly 250 consumers were from the U.S.

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Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.

 “It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”

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Unilever to reorganize company structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.

Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.

To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.

In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.

Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.

“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.

In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.

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