The disappearance of large families. Improvements in medical progress, hygiene and nutrition as well as changes to physical activities and a transformation in society, particularly in the workplace, have recently led to a strong proliferation of single households. In 2011 just over one third of all Europeans were living on their own – with the largest number of singles in Oslo where just under 53 per cent had their own households and did not live with anyone else. Across the EU 13.4 per cent of all singles are over 65 years old. This has a number of consequences, including different dietary patterns which require smaller packaging sizes. By and large, however, there have been no substantial changes in packaging sizes over the last few years, as trade and industry are still paying relatively little attention to demographic change. Specially sized packages for singles are still no more than sporadic in the food retail sector.
The milk has gone off again, the jam is mouldy, or the potatoes have started sprouting. Whereas, in the past, it made sense for a big family to buy large quantities to save money, large packaging sizes nowadays often mean that a lot of food is thrown in the bin. One solution in the battle against food waste is to use single-serve packaging which allows suitable portions for single individuals. Such packages are of benefit at home, while travelling, at the office and during sporting activities.
Although this may not be obvious at first sight, smaller packages do save energy in relation to the entire lifecycle and are therefore also more sustainable. After all, packaging has a protective function and can help to preserve food while minimising food losses and waste. The production of packages requires far less energy compared with the manufacturing and distribution of the actual food itself if it is ultimately lost or wasted. Moreover, if the packaging material is suitable, it can be recycled, so that it helps to improve the sustainability balance even further.