Nomadic Dairy on the importance of packaging

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

The eco-friendly format sees the yogurt and oat cluster pots now clip together, replacing the previous plastic wrap. Pic: Nomadic Dairy
The eco-friendly format sees the yogurt and oat cluster pots now clip together, replacing the previous plastic wrap. Pic: Nomadic Dairy

Related tags: Dairy, Yoghurt, Yogurt, Packaging, Sustainability

One of the fastest growing yogurt brands in the UK, Nomadic Dairy has invested £2.7m ($3.5m) in new packaging that removes 240 tonnes of plastic annually from its supply chain.

The new packaging for the Donegal, Ireland-based company’s yogurt and oat clusters range comes as the brand continues to go against the market trend: While the UK chilled yogurt desserts category has dropped by 3.8% in the past 52 weeks, Nomadic’s sales are up by 21%.

The eco-friendly format sees the yogurt and oat cluster pots now clip together, replacing the previous plastic wrap. A cardboard sleeve has been introduced, while the foil tops on the pots have been made completely recyclable by removing a plastic substrate.

In addition, a new wooden spoon replaces the previous plastic version. Nomadic is first to market with this type of spoon, which is made from renewable FSC-certified pressed birch and is 100% compostable. Unlike most wooden spoons on the market, it features an all-natural food-grade lacquer. The ingredients themselves remain unchanged. Finally, new shelf-ready packaging made from 100% recycled plastic has been rolled out across the range.

DairyReporter spoke with Tom Price, head of marketing and innovation at Nomadic.


How important is packaging to the brand?

As a brand, we are all about balance. We make our yogurt with a balance of great taste and nourishment and we are here to help people find a little balance in their busy day. Balance is key in everything we do and that extends to sustainability and our packaging. We’re conscious of our impact on the environment and examine our waste, energy usage and packaging choices to do what we can to bring more balance to the world. This is not just about reducing the amount of plastic we use but also making it easier for consumers to recycle our products.

What are the main considerations now when planning which packaging to use?

Clearly when considering packaging the primary focus is it must ensure the quality and freshness of our yogurt. Another important element is maintaining part of what makes our best-selling Yogurt & Oat Clusters so popular – the ability to be enjoyed anywhere. We could have completely removed the spoon from our pots as an easy way to reduce our plastic use. Instead, we worked hard to find a spoon that would meet both our sustainability expectations and consumer needs. With an all-natural food-grade lacquer, it offers a smooth eating experience and is compostable.

Beyond the packaging itself, we also consider other factors to ensure we are reducing our overall impact on the environment, such as our carbon footprint. We’ve found the most obvious answer sometimes isn’t always the best. We had originally planned to change all our shelf ready trays to cardboard but instead we are working with a company who recycle virgin plastic, that is destined for the oceans. In the end this option was more environmentally friendly than cardboard.

Do government guidelines and policy and consumer preferences affect your decision-making process?

Of course we will always make sure our packaging is in line with government guidelines and we look to this to advise us on how we can do better. We are Origin Green accredited, a standard created by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and the worlds’ only national food and drink sustainability programme which brings together government, policy and consumer.

As a business, improving our packaging in the ways we have goes beyond government guideline as it was something we wanted to do, not something we were going to wait to be told to do. We want to be ahead of the curve and are continuously looking for new ways to improve our packaging and impact on the environment. We hope it encourages other brands to do the same. Throughout any packaging change discussions, consumer preference has always been front of mind.

It’s important for us that consumers aren’t deterred by any changes we make. Before we launched our new yogurt and oat clusters pot, that saves 240 tonnes of plastic, we did focus groups with consumers to get their honest feedback. We also want to educate our consumers, so we have used the inside of the packaging to tell them about the changes we have made and help make it easier for them to recycle. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response we have had from consumers. 

How do you source your packaging, and how do you ensure its environmental credentials?

We do our research. Lots of scouring the trade press, listening to experts, examining materials, talking to our suppliers and seeing what we can learn from what is already in the market. We have a measure twice, cut once mentality. To ensure environmental credentials, aside from checking certifications like FSC for board, we look at how consumers will understand the pack. So if something was brilliant for the environment but only if it were recycled differently by the consumer then we would test whether that is likely to happen in practice

What kind of sustainability goals does the company have? And how does packaging fit in with this?

As an Origin Green certified company, we have goals to reduce waste, water usage, energy, emissions and positive social goals in our community too. Packaging fits in all areas as we look to receive packaging in as efficient ways as possible, produce with it efficiently and choose materials which won’t negatively impact the community and world we market in.

And how has packaging impacted those goals?

Our reduction of 240 tonnes of plastic per annum has been a major project in reducing waste and emissions through our production process. We have lots more to go for and are embracing it as part of our mission to be in balance.

About Bord Bia

Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) is the Irish government agency charged with the promotion, trade development and marketing of the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry. It works to enhance the reputation, based on the principles of sustainable development, of Irish food, drink and horticulture to develop markets for Irish suppliers and bring the taste of Irish food to more tables world-wide.

Launched in 2012, Origin Green is a national sustainability program for Ireland’s entire food and drink industry, and a key delivery of the Irish Government’s strategy for Ireland’s globally focused government strategic plan, FoodWise 2025.

It is the only food and drink sustainability program in the world operating on a national scale, uniting government, the private sector and food producers through Bord Bia.

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