Consumers prefer glass as a packaging material for food and drinks, according to a pan-European survey by independent research consultancy InSites. Reflecting the growing desire among consumers to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, glass is preferred because it preserves the taste of its contents, is considered to be healthy and safe; and – since it can be recycled endlessly – is very environmentally friendly.

Commissioned by FEVE (the European Container Glass Federation), the InSites study asked over 8,000 consumers in 17 countries across Europe about their perception of different packaging materials. The survey reveals that 65% of consumers prefer glass because they believe it is best at preserving taste and 63% perceive that it is safest for their health, while almost half say it is the most environmentally-friendly form of packaging. The survey’s findings strongly reflect a growing trend among consumers: the desire to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. This has been seen in the booming organic foods market, the return to popularity of home-cooking and preserving, and an increasing awareness and interest in our foods’ sources and ingredients. In tandem with this health-awareness, recycling rates have grown steadily over the past decade – with the latest figures showing that 67% of glass is now being recycled in Europe – showing consumers’ concern for the environment.

“When you look at the way we as consumers have developed in the past decade, it’s not surprising that glass is gaining popularity,” says Jonathan Marshall, European Marketing Director of O-I – the world’s leading glass packaging manufacturer. “Where artificial preservatives and additives were once accepted, and the emphasis was on convenience rather than taste, consumers are now looking for authentic products that taste as fresh and natural as possible.”

While consumers prefer glass, in some cases preference far exceeds actual usage, demonstrating that there is an opportunity for manufacturers to better meet the needs of their consumers. Jonathan Marshall says: “Today’s informed consumers want to make choices that have a positive impact on their own and their families’ health, as well as the health of the planet. Pure, natural and 100% recyclable, glass is completely in-tune with this trend towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle: it’s not surprising that 40% of consumers would recommend glass as a packaging material to their friends and family.”