Glass started falling out of favor as a packaging material decades ago with the rise of lightweight, unbreakable plastic.
However, since the mid-2000s, glass has made a comeback in the mainstream CPG market. Foods, beverages, and beauty brands are now using glass containers more extensively, and consumers are taking notice.
Consumer sentiment has always been on the side of glass, with consumers ranking glass bottles as number one for taste of foods and beverages. Since glass has a near-zero rate of chemical interaction, when you eat or drink something from a glass container, you’re tasting the product and not the packaging. Other factors are converging to make glass containers a more popular choice for packaging. Maybe you should consider it for your brand too.
Why Glass Is Experiencing a Resurgence in Popularity
People are concerned with potential health implications of plastic packaging of foods and beverages. Glass falls into the category of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, and it can be safely microwaved and washed at high temperatures. What’s more, it can be reused extensively and eventually degraded back into sand, which can then be made back into glass.
Some industries – notably smaller craft breweries and local dairies – are using refillable glass bottles. With beer bottling, refilling glass bottles produces 66 times less carbon dioxide emission compared to aluminum cans, and over the lifetime of a glass bottle (25 refills before being recycled into new glass containers), the cost per fill is also reduced.
Concerns over plastics in the environment have played a role in the resurgence of glass too. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish by the year 2050, and since 1950, more than 90 percent of discarded plastic has not been recycled.
Companies Leading the Way with Glass Packaging
LOLI is a beauty brand that uses the tagline “Zero Waste Beauty” and sells many of its products in food-safe, reusable glass jars. Yoplait’s line of Oui French-style yogurt is also sold in glass jars. In fact, the yogurts are cultured within the glass jars consumers buy, and many consumers say the product texture is superior because of this process.
Del Monte’s College Inn culinary grade, small batch stocks and broths are sold in glass containers. This type of packaging allows the company to leave some of the fat in the product, giving it a richer taste and mouth feel, compared to stocks and broths sold in paper cartons.
How CPG Brands Can Learn from These Brands’ Examples
Spirits, wines, beers, and other foods and beverages are the most natural fits for glass containers. Currently, beer is the biggest user of glass containers in the U.S. Because glass has a weightier, more substantial feel than plastic, it is a good choice for premium product lines.
It is also a good choice for clean label initiatives, offering a greater level of transparency (both literally and figuratively) due to glass’ simplicity and lack of chemical reaction with the foods and beverages it contains. As “premiumization” becomes more popular in food and beverage categories, glass containers are making a comeback as a marker of higher-quality product lines.
Despite its greater shipping weight and breakability, glass makes sense for many CPG product lines. Its status as GRAS is a factor in its favor, and as consumers grow more concerned about the effect of plastics on the environment, glass makes a good packaging choice to address those concerns. It’s a natural fit for many product types and makes especially good sense for the increasing number of premium product lines being released by food and beverage, wine, spirits, beer, and beauty brands.
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