I defy anyone to say they've never bought a product purely on the basis of the packaging or container. That is, something they may or may not be going to actually use...
Colman's mustard powder in the yellow tin is my downfall. If I eat mustard it makes me ill (having the emetic powers it is famed for in ususlly much higher doses) but I can't resist the tin and like having it in the cupboard.
I like the fact that a lot of manufacturers have never really changed the basic designs, other than tweaking them or, of course, having to comply with yet more public safety rules and regulations. I prefer my bread to come in paper bags or waxed paper, not sweating away in plastic. Mushrooms should be in the old fashioned cardboard punnets, as should strawberries. Apples and oranges should be wrapped in tissue and layered in rough cut boxes.
What I really can't stand is all the packaging on the supermarkets' 'basic' ranges. It's so depressingly boring. I know there's a need for cut-price ranges (and indeed why should any basic food be expensive in the first place), I know a range has to be identifiable, I know that the price of packaging materials and the printing of them subsequently affects the selling price. And yet.
Surely someone could inject a bit of style into the ranges. No-one wants to push round a trolley that shouts 'I'm hard up.' (And we have been there as well.) Anyone who remotely enjoys cooking and eating, regardless of the cost of the ingredients, must first get some fun out of the shopping experience.
It's part of the reason I like shopping in farmers' markets, and almost anywhere abroad. (It's a long time since I was in the US, so I can't speak about their supermarkets. Though the concept originated there, so I'm guessing they still lead the way...) Price is an issue for all but the very well-off, but I'd rather cut back on luxury loo paper than, say, cheese, and then just have less of something really good than lots of something very mediocre.
These days though, for a lot of people, it's very much quantity over quality. Vast amounts of uneaten food are put into landfill each week. Where's the economy in that?
Food 2030, the Government enter the fray.
Wasted Food, a blog from the US about just this problem.
NY Times article, showing the problem exists on both sides of the Atlantic.