The importance of sustainable packaging - interview with retailer and organic pioneer tegut...good food

2020-04-07 –

Tegut…gute Lebensmittel is a pioneering retailer of fresh, organic and local produce that has around 280 food stores in central Germany and is owned by Swiss retailer Migros. Organic food accounts for over a quarter of sales, the remainder coming from high quality private label and branded goods that run from budget to premium.

‘tegut... good food’ continues to stand out in today’s competitive marketplace and its managing director, Thomas Gutberlet, knows how important sustainable packaging is to its offering…

Mister Gutberlet, how important is sustainability to tegut…?
We’ve been conscious about our resource use since the mid-1970s. Sustainability is part of our DNA and our large organic product range is something we are very proud of. The goods we sell – including their packaging – still provide one of the biggest levers for positive change.

What restrictions do you have on packaging?
We don’t have strict packaging guidelines. Instead we work closely with each supplier to achieve the best possible outcomes. We’ve had particular success with our own brand products, of which there are over 1000. We now want to go even further to reduce plastic waste.

Can you give us an example of your progress with packaging?
Our self-service minced meat products, both regional and organic private label, now come in packaging with 75% less plastic. The meat now sits in a thin recyclable plastic film, which lines a FSC®-certified cardboard tray made from 100% renewable raw materials.

This means customers must separate the packaging before disposal. Do they?
Today’s consumers control many things, starting with their initial desire to buy more sustainable products and packaging. It continues with the proper separation of waste and considering the CO₂ impact of their food. The industry can reduce its impact in getting product to consumer, but if the consumer doesn’t put the lid on the pot while cooking, the energy balance can still be lost. To me, this is a positive thing: if as a consumer I wish to change something, I should start with myself.  

Would your customers pay more for more sustainable packaging?
I should point out that more environmentally friendly or sustainable packaging does not always have to mean a more expensive product! However, our customers are generally very interested in finding better packaging solutions and in many places they demand them. They could be described as environmentally conscious, rather than primarily price-driven, which does make it easier for us to explore alternative packaging solutions.