Retailers to swap to cheaper fruit and veg variants

UK retailers have considered rationalising fresh fruit and vegetable lines to focus on less expensive and less labour-intensive produce.

According to growers association Lea Valley secretary Lee Stiles, the move hopes to drive down costs as cutting down SKUs that could require additional labour would keep finances lower.

“They are cutting the amount of tomato lines they buy, and they are cutting the amount of processed fresh produce they buy, like cut and packaged fresh [lines],” Stiles said.

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As a result, supermarkets are looking to streamline their offering on products such as tomatoes that carry over 200 variants.

“They might not have as many in a pack, so the pack sizes might be smaller, [and] they might not be offering as many varieties, so they may not be offering loose cherry [and] sticking to vine tomatoes, [or] they might not be offering the bigger round ones anymore,” Stiles added.

“Anything that needs additional labour in weighing or packaging or that type of thing, they are cutting. So, they are cutting down on choice.”

This would mean processed foods such as cut carrots or broccoli in packaging may only be sold in loose and whole to avoid extra labour costs.

However, Stiles warned that cutting choices may lead to an increase in imported produce or that labour will be outsourced where it is cheaper abroad.

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