AFGC launches new toolkit for sustainable food packaging and defends breakfast cereal

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd April 2013

A new toolkit is being launched by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) to help businesses have a greater knowledge of and positive influence on decisions about sustainable packaging design.

The program, which will particularly target marketing professionals, is an interactive e-learning program designed to increase awareness of principles and minimise the environmental impacts of packaging. The AFGC has developed the program with funding support from the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) and assistance from Net Balance Foundation and Change2.

“In many companies, decisions about packaging design are not made by packaging teams alone; sales and marketing personnel also play a significant role. Indeed, marketing personnel often have the ultimate decision over choices of packaging,” said Tanya Barden, AFGC Policy Director of Sustainability, Trade and Innovation.

“By improving their understanding of the principles of sustainable packaging we believe the toolkit can make a positive contribution to reducing the environmental impacts of packaging across the whole supply chain,” Ms Barden said.

Marketing professionals helped drive the content and format of the toolkit through a series of consultation sessions. The toolkit gives an introduction to sustainability and sustainable packaging; gives information on the APC, its requirements and objectives; gives information on the aspects of the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines; gives advice for aligning marketing strategy and packaging design; and addresses the role for marketing and communications professionals in packaging design.

“By working together with government, industry has leveraged funds to assist in designing packaging that can be more cost effective. As costs are rising, industry must seek innovative ways to become more sustainable – reducing packaging costs where possible,” said Ms Barden.

“The toolkit will provide users with ideas and evidence to demonstrate the business case for pursuing sustainable packaging outcomes,” said Stan Moore, APC CEO.

AFGC defends breakfast cereal against high sodium claims

Meanwhile, the AFGC has also released data showing that breakfast cereal is responsible for less than 5 per cent of Australian children’s sodium intake, following a recent focus on sodium in foods in the Australian media. Bread, processed meat, savoury sauces and even dairy foods contribute more sodium to children’s diets than breakfast cereals, said the food and grocery council.

The AFGC said that confusion about the contribution of breakfast cereal to sodium intake could come from the use of the word ‘cereal’ in global nutrition research. It said that the term ‘cereal’ in Australia is commonly taken to mean ‘breakfast cereal’, when in fact it can refer more broadly to flour, other cereal grains and starches, all types of breads, pasta, noodles, muffins and cakes. Breakfast cereals are only one type of food encompassed by the umbrella term ‘cereal’.

According to the AFGC, manufacturers of breakfast cereals in Australia have been committed to reducing sodium in their products for the last 15 years. It said that a 2008 survey found most Australian breakfast cereals already met the target of less than 400mg sodium per 100g recommended by government health agencies at the time. The results of that survey showed that 100 per cent of hot cereals, 77 per cent of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and 90 per cent of other breakfast cereals met that recommendation.

In February 2013, Australian Food News reported that cereal manufacturer Uncle Tobys said recipe changes it made in response to new government nutrition requirements meant it was using 2.5 tonnes less sodium in its products each year.