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4 million Aussies struggle to open packaging: how the industry is improving

Evolving lifestyles and an ageing population will force packaging to innovate, as they attempt to meet changing household demographics and more educated consumers.

“The average household has two occupants,” Paul Curtis, chief executive of the Packaging Council of Australia told the AIP National Conference.

“We’re all seeing increased demand for sealable packages to reduce wastage, portion controlled packaging to meet our diet needs, as well as on-the-go packaging to eat when out and about,” he said.

“Packaging will get more and more attention in the future.”

A collaboration between NSW Health, Arthritis Australia and companies including Nestle, is already making significant changes to the packaging industry, particularly with accessibility.

Accessible packaging is a crucial component in packaging nowadays, with a rapidly ageing population, who mostly want to stay at home rather than going into aged care.

But it’s not just older Australians who struggle to open packaging, as Wendy Favorito, Director and Consumer Representative, Arthritis Australia said.

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, Favorito is finds opening a lot of packaging an impossible task.

“When I look at a picture of a jar, you might as well show me a picture of Mount Everest, because it is basically that impossible to me,” she said.

Favorito explained that the impossible task of opening jars, cans and other kinds of packaging takes an emotional toll on the person.

“Every day I struggle to open something and that has a huge emotional toll in trying to live independently and maintain self esteem,” she said.

“I feel angry, I feel frustrated, I feel disappointed and I am not alone.

“I am privileged to tell my story on behalf of about 4 million Australians who are living with some form of arthritis.”

NSW Health has committed to supplying hospitals with easily opened packaging, and Nestle is also working towards improving its standards, as determined by the Accessibility Scale created by Arthritis Australia.

“Accessibility is a key area of development for the NSW Minister for Health,” NSW Health’s Carmen Rechbauer said.

“The issue for food service people is not to go backwards, but to improve the safety of meals delivered to patients.

“They are portion-controlled to ensure patient are their getting their nutrients, but people can’t open the stuff to eat it.

“And I’m not just talking about patients, but staff as well.

“ If you think about hospital patients, they are just the general population, who pass though there.

“It’s exciting to see accessibility is being taken seriously now.”
 

Make sure to check out the in-depths feature on accessible packaging in the June edition of Food Magazine.

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