How Much Pop Are You Getting For Your Pound?


We all love treating ourselves to snacks throughout the day and as consumers, we are becoming more aware of our health and always seeking lower-calorie alternatives.

This is why popcorn is increasingly becoming more popular throughout the UK and sales have risen by a huge 169% in the last 5 years. Manufacturers are aware of this and there are more flavours, sizes and brands available than ever before. Gone are the days that popcorn was reserved as just cinema treat and many of us are opting for this over the traditional crisps at lunchtime.

But it is not just our health we are looking out for, many of us seek value for money when doing our weekly shop. Popcorn packaging contains ‘air’, more specifically nitrogen, to keep the product fresh and reduce damage to your snack in transit. But it appears that some brands are packing their bags with more air than others.

Direct Air conducted a study to find out exactly how much air we are paying for in our new favourite treats, the full results can be seen here.

The study revealed the ‘air-to-popcorn’ ratio and showed exactly what percentage of air we are paying for. Keep reading to see where your favourite brands scores.

Brand/Flavour Price Per 100g (£) % of Air in Bag
Proper Corn Peanut Butter & Almond 1.60 71
Nude Sweet & Salty 1.56 62
Nude Simply Salted 1.92 62
Tyrrell’s Sweet 1.94 57
Metcalfe’s Toffee Apple 2.25 55
Tyrrell’s Sea Salted 2.50 55
Tesco Salted 1.24 55
M&S Salted 1.54 55
Metcalfe’s Sweet ‘N Salt 1.25 54
Proper Corn Perfectly Sweet 1.78 54
Waitrose Sea Salty 1.43 53
Waitrose Sweet & Salty 1.11 53
Tesco Sweet & Salty 0.96 52
Butterkist Cinema Sweet 1.70 48
Butterkist Toffee 1.00 44
M&S Salted Caramel 0.57 31

This shows the average bag of popcorn contains 54% air, which results in every £1.58 spent on a bag, 86p of this is for the air inside. The worst culprit is Proper Corn and their peanut butter & almost flavour with a staggering 71% air in each bag.

M&S managed to achieve only 31% air in their salted caramel bags. As consumers, we understand the need for nitrogen to be used but if some brands are able to achieve their desired result with so much less, why can’t others?

Perhaps next time you are out shopping for a quick bite, you’ll keep this in mind so you know you are getting the most for your money.

Not only are we feeling out-of-pocket by these results, but there is also a huge environmental impact as well. Popcorn packaging, similar to crisps, is largely not recyclable within the UK and is estimated to take 8 decades to breakdown after use. Considering these products are manufactured and consumed at such a fast pace, surely these companies should be making every attempt possible to reduce plastic waste and the negatives it brings to our planet.

Excess air leads to larger packaging needed, which in turn generates more waste.

Daniel Hinde states: ‘I think there are some really interesting things happening within closed-loop, renewable and refillable packaging. Packaging is also available now especially for things like snack bars which can be completely composted and decompose down like a fruit peel. Edible food packaging is also something I have heard we will be seeing an introduction of which is exciting. We also have a lot of natural material packaging being developed which again can be composted and breaks down in a suitable environment. Particularly within food and drink these kinds of solutions have to be taken into consideration on a per-product basis, as what works well for one product might not necessarily work well for another.’- Daniel Hinde, Greatergood Design

So, it may seem better for our purse strings and the environment to think twice about shopping for these bags next time we are in the supermarket. You can easily make popcorn at home in a microwave using kernels and replacing this packaging with reusable containers. This is usually healthier for you as well as you can control the sugar or salt content or simply have it plain.

Crisp industries have been thrown under the spotlight recently for their excess use of non-recyclable or biodegradable packaging along with the confectionery industry. Popcorn brands seem to have slipped the net with this scrutiny and perhaps it is time for a change. The more pressure the public puts on them, the more likely they are to take action.

We aren’t saying you can’t enjoy your favourite snack any more, but for the benefit of your bank balance and the planet, perhaps you can make a positive change by making a conscious decision to choose the least wasteful brands in the future.

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