How accessible is food & drink packaging? Industry Perception VS Consumer Reality

Hard-to-open packaging has previously been associated with an increased risk of injury and consumer frustration, particularly with packaging formats like clam shells. But what types of food and drink packaging do consumers find hard-to-open and does the industry agree? These are the questions the Accessible Design Division tried to answer with two parallel surveys conducted with consumers and members of the packaging industry.

Download a summary of the results from the two surveys:

Report – How accessible is food & drink packaging? Industry Perception VS Consumer Reality

Highlights of the project included: 

  • 44% of consumers had difficulty opening packaging everyday, while industry’s top answer was once or twice a week
  • The more often consumers experienced hand pain, the more frequently they had difficulty with opening packaging 
  • Glass jars with metal lids received the highest number of consumer responses for couldn’t open it at all or hurt themselves opening it
  • Sliders on pouches received the most consumer responses for opened it easily 
  • 92% of consumers reported damaging or spilling a product when trying to open it, while industry thought 25% of consumers would have had this experience. 
  • Consumers identified that they felt upset (44%), angry (41%) and infuriated (39%) when they had difficulty opening packaging. Consumers feedback contained in the summary also shares personal stories about consumers struggles with packaging, including:
    • Seals on milk – “We now have to buy 1L bottles of milk for our family of four because we can’t afford for me to keep dropping or spilling the larger bottles when trying to remove those wretched seals.” 30 – 49 Female
    • Plastic water bottle – “After trying for a long time, with many tears and a lot of pain, I had to return to the store to embarrassingly ask someone to open the bottle for me. It’s degrading at my age. I’ve been unable to open this brand since they changed their lids so I don’t buy water unless I have my husband with me.” 30 – 49 Female
    • Glass jars – “Have to stab lid. Tend to use a knife or my teeth if I can. Makes me concerned if I am by myself how I will cope.” 50 – 64 Female
    • Glass jars – “I have had to completely abandon a meal I was cooking as I couldn’t open a jar that I required. It was super frustrating and can make me feel useless.” 30 – 49 Female
  • 56% of consumers would look at buying a product in a different type of packaging, while 21% would look at buying a competitor product to avoid the same negative experience in the future. 

This report was prepared by Alexandra Brayshaw Accessible Packaging Researcher at the Accessible Design Division, who undertook this research for part of her dissertation for the AIP Diploma In Packaging Technology.