I’m not convinced the banishment of the humble cardboard cereal box – after a century of iconic logo exposure – is such a good idea. The proposal comes from Sainsbury’s, which means to exchange it for the sort of packaging normally encasing crisps. But it’s also being mulled by the company that began it all in 1906, Kellogg.
In taking the initiative, Sainsbury’s merely claims to be environmentally progressive. And on one level, it is entirely right. Customers, as its own research makes clear, are heartily sick of too much packaging. Cereals are contained in one bag too many, so something will have to go.
Coming up with a unstructured, vulnerable, solution like a crisp package doesn’t seem entirely practical, however. Can’t the supermarket think of something better? I also suspect Sainsbury’s may be missing the point of its own research. Sure, people hate excess packaging. But their main bugbear is usually the fact that it makes the goodies inside inaccessible without the aid of a Kanga Drill. The supermarkets’ own fresh fruit and vegetables packaging are a good case in point. But they pale into insignificance when compared with the Herculean strength and endurance required to break into a new electric torch and arm it with some common-or-garden alkaline batteries. Does the operation really have to be that difficult?
Another point. Less may be better, but not necessarily if the less turns out to be more unbiodegradable plastic. I note the revulsion towards plastic milk pouches expressed by commentators on the Sunday Times article.
And finally… Could this be another dastardly supermarket own-label plot? Less packaging, less structured packaging, means fewer design opportunities for brands – whose ability to create shelf-awareness (eg advertising budgets) is already under huge pressure. I’ll leave that one hanging in the air.