Supermarkets cut back plans to switch to loose fruit and veg

Supermarkets are cutting back their plans to switch to loose fruit and vegetables, as initial targets were said to be too ambitious by experts.

While climate action NGO, Wrap hoped that 80% of packaging on fresh fruit and veg could be removed by 2025, the new goal is for 30% to be loose by 2025.

This is set to rise to 50% by 2030 across all packaging.

Wrap’s new timeframe will see grocery giants removing plastic from products such as bananas, broccoli, apples, avocados, carrots, mangos, onions, oranges, peppers, potatoes and salad tomatoes.

For its short-term goal, by the end of this year, Wrap’s Pathway looks to see retailers selling at least one option of each fruit and veg lines if two or more lines of that product are stocked.

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This comes as a report by Wrap last year found fears of removing packaging from fresh fruit and veg entirely could cause a rise in food waste, according to reporting by The Grocer.

However, if plastic packaging was removed from the top five most wasted fresh fruit and veg products, it found that 100,000 tonnes of food waste could be prevented.

Currently, many convenience stores and discount grocers lack the weighing availability to be able to offer loose products on a wide scale and just 15% of fruit and veg sales currently come from loose products.

Although Wrap head of collaboration, Helen Bird said consumer demand for this is not back to pre-covid levels, she backed the UK’s voluntary approach to offering loose produce.

She told The Grocer: “There may come a time when a mandatory approach is necessary.”

“We are keeping a close eye on what’s happening in Europe. It’s fair to say that the feedback we’ve had from those countries is that the regulations have come very, very quickly and that it’s caused lots of challenges in the supply chain.”

She added that its pathway includes “minimum targets, designed to reflect the diverse range of operating models in the UK retail sector.”

“We would hope to see some retailers going further, faster. It is an extremely challenging operating environment, off the back of the pandemic which saw an increase in the use of packaging due to hygiene/safety concerns from customers.”

Bird said that the industry are “supportive of the direction of travel” on the new pathway, however acknowledged that it is “very challanging”.

“Wrap are working with industry to overcome these challenges in a sustainable way and whilst keeping an eye on and trying to avoid/address any unintended consequences.”



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