Iris Lundquist and Nicole Chidiac, Sustainable Food Systems - Master's programme
Environmental concerns in the wine industry have gained global attention, highlighting the need for a shift towards more sustainable practices. One notable impact is the CO2e emissions associated with glass bottles used for wine packaging. While the industry is introducing climate-smart packaging alternatives, the challenge lies in convincing consumers to embrace these changes, given the enduring value attributed to the traditional glass bottle. As awareness of the environmental impact of glass bottles grows, companies in the wine industry play a pivotal role in offering sustainable alternatives. This master thesis is on commission by Systembolaget, the Swedish state-owned company with a monopoly on alcoholic beverages. Through three focus group discussions with Systembolaget consumers and two semi-structured interviews with store employees, an understanding of consumer perceptions towards climate-smart wine packaging was achieved. The findings reveal barriers to purchasing climate-smart options, despite consumer interest in sustainability, pointing at a green gap. Limited knowledge about wine in climate-smart packaging raised concerns about a decline in quality. However, options that replicate the shape and material of the glass bottle, aligning with established norms, were favorably received. To increase incentives for purchasing climate-smart packaging, consumers need education through communication campaigns and the expertise of store employees. Implementing nudging tools within Systembolaget stores can simplify the decision-making process and promote sustainable choices. Nonetheless, challenges arise when applying sustainability-related goals in a state-owned company governed by laws, including the inherent conflict between brand neutrality and promoting climate-smart options. This necessitates the development of educational tools and support from headquarters.