Concerned UK shoppers are turning away from plastic-wrapped fruit and vegetables in droves. They are opting for loose produce instead, consumer data shows. The buying public has become closely attuned to the scourge of plastic waste in recent months, and appears to be seeking out unpackaged goods as a matter of course in 2019.
Loose fruit and veg sales up
Figures released by the consumer insight group Kantar reveal that some 21 per cent of fruit, vegetable and salad items were sold loose over the past 12 weeks, with sales growing twice as quickly than with packaged produce. The convenience and presumed cleanliness of pre-washed and shredded salad leaves, peeled and chopped carrots and other multipack produce continues to appeal to many time-poor shoppers, though overall sales of packaged produce grew only modestly, by three per cent over the past three months. Loose produce sales grew by six per cent in that time.
Supermarkets and food retailers are under pressure to significantly cut down on plastic waste and are facing intense scrutiny from environmental organisations, charities and, perhaps most crucially, shoppers. All six of the nation’s biggest grocery chains have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, spearheaded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap). Signatories to the pact have pledged to make all of their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 and to have eliminated all single-use plastic by that time.
Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, began a trial at two of its stores last month where dozens of varieties of fruit and vegetables, including apples, peppers and mushrooms are sold loose instead of encased in plastic.