(Nov. 8) The majority of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for packaging if it guarantees the freshness of their food and drinks, according to a study released Oct. 26 by DuPont.

“We’re interested in what the consumer is looking for in packages, especially in fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Donna Visioli, senior technology program manager for Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers, which supplies resin to packaging manufacturers.

In a study sponsored by DuPont and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., 1,172 consumers responded to an online poll.

Of those, 72% said they would be willing to pay at least 10 cents — or an additional 3% — for better packaging on a $3 food purchase. On average, the food and beverage industry allocates 5% of the total cost of an item to packaging, according to DuPont.

Visioli said improved packaging would allow companies to improve sales and brand loyalty. The study reports that 31% of respondents had discarded food because of inferior packaging, and 77% said poor packaging would affect their decision to buy a product again.

Common complaints included zippers that separated from bags, bags that split and bags that were difficult to open or reseal.

The study also reports that 32% of respondents had recently discarded food that was not fresh when it was purchased. Vegetables and bagged salads (58%) were the biggest offenders, followed by fruit (49%), bread (48%) and dairy products (29%).

Freshness ranked as the top concern among consumers when considering food packaging (34%), followed by price (25%), expiration date (24%) and tamper resistance (9%). Nearly half (47%) of those polled said they discarded food at least every other week.