Many popcorn lovers are always excited when it comes to opening the packaging of their favourite brand, however, then comes disappointment from when they open their favourite bag of popcorn only to discover that their packaging was mostly filled with air.

Food packaging requires compressed air testing to ensure that everything is subject to required professional ISO 8573 testing standards. Food packaging contains nitrogen to cushion their contents during transportation and distribution for efficient preservation.

Bearing that in mind, this article will discuss the issue regarding excess air in popcorn bags, as well as present the results of Direct Air’s popcorn study where they determined whether UK consumers were getting good value for money when purchasing certain UK popcorn brands.


The Issue with Excess Air in Popcorn

Too much air in packaging can cause consumers to feel that they have been ‘conned’ after making a purchase. This is because the size of a packet can influence a consumer’s purchasing decision.

However, this is not the only problem with excess air. Pillow packing uses non-recyclable plastic which means a larger, single-use bag is being manufactured.

It is estimated that popcorn bags required about 80 years to decay. UK manufacturers are thought to produce between 12,000 to 15,000 metric tonnes of popcorn each year.

The popcorn production sector is growing at an unprecedented rate, so consider how many packets are sitting in our landfills. The global focus is on reducing plastic waste, so people must wonder why brands continue to add so much air during packaging, which increases the use of plastic.

How Much Air is In Your Popcorn?

Direct Air’s study of this issue revealed interesting facts. It was found that one of the world’s most popular popcorn brands, Propercorn, fills their packets with up to 71% air.

However, they could argue that this quantity of air is necessary to keep products up to standard, but that is challenged by brands achieving similar quality with only 31% air.

The table below showcases UK popcorn brands along with their prices and percentage of air in their bags.


How Were These Results Collated?

The results were collated via the water displacement method. A 25L measuring bucket was used whereby the packs would then be submerged and the rise in water levels would be measured.

The contents of the popcorn into a plastic bag would then be emptied and be vacuum sealed. The water levels would then be checked to ensure that it was the same, consequently, the sealed vacuum bag would be submerged.

This then would have resulted in the rise of water levels having been recorded resulting in percentages being worked out to identify the ratio of air to popcorn within the brands’ packaging.

What Can the Consumer Do?

Consumers deserve to get the best value for their hard-earned money. Taking this study into account, the brands which use fancy pillow packets to entice purchase can be avoided.

At the same time, it is our collective responsibility to make the right choices concerning environmental issues. Someone does need not be an environmental activist to understand the importance of protecting our planet. A means of doing this is by minimising the production of single-use plastics.

If brands see their sales reduce as a result of plastic usage, they will be pressured into making the switch to eco-friendly materials.

The popcorn industry must join other food manufacturers in sustainable manufacturing. Greater awareness will result in faster change, and soon companies from different sectors of the economy will alter their production processes for  the purpose of environmental sustainability.

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