WHICH sector do they mean?

Dick Searle6smallI am slightly surprised to be returning to WHICH territory for the 2nd time this year.

 Back in May – The Future of Food – giving consumers a say  – I reported a ‘clear sense of disappointment’ on finishing the WHICH report. Not so much for what was said, as not. ‘Packaging hardly figures in these pages,’ I said, ‘not much bad about us – but not much good either.’

 This time around from WHICH we have Wrap Rage – an investigation into inaccessible packaging.

 Now WHICH have done well in identifying a very topical issue; not least due to various issues of food security, an ageing population and a need for tamper evident technology. However, and once again, the actual involvement of the packaging industry appears slight. And although a panel of ‘packaging experts’ is mentioned in relation to the report I recognize no names there from our industry of packaging producers.  

WHICH of course is a consumer-based organization, set up to represent the voice of consumers. Readers of this blog will know that I stand for consumer choice and consumer responsibility. Above all I advocate an integrated and holistic approach whereby both producers and consumers work together for the benefit of both.

 I therefore find it a little saddening and maddening to see the consumer point of view yet again presented in this somewhat artificial and adversarial style.  It may once have done for the TV producers of That’s Life or Watchdog but in this matter it ultimately does none of us any good – producers or consumers – to remain in our fox holes and fire shots over the trenches.  We have to do better than that.

 The Wrap Rage report itself is something of mixed bag; some good, some bad, some sublime, some ridiculous.

 I took part in some Wrap Rage Radio interviews last week. To tell the truth my eyes were opened more to the extraordinariness of human beings rather than packaging. Products that require ‘cooking’, for example, might have been expected to be opened in the kitchen – with knife or scissors. An inability to recognize the signs of child resistant closures, some 25 years after their introduction, seems hard to puzzle through. And so on and so forth.

 And finally – in packaging as in everything – you get what you pay for. Some pack solutions work better than others – and at a price.  That’s life.

In all of these matters there is no doubt that openability is moving up the agenda.  The Packaging Federation is on it. Working together on these issues, industry and consumers, is the key to the way forward.

Many thanks

Dick Searle