Industry welcomes Asda trial of less packaging for fresh produce

Study to explore ways to reduce amount of packaged fruit and vegetables.

Growers have welcomed a radical study that will see fresh fruit and vegetables stripped of their plastic packaging. Asda has launched an experiment at two stores in north-west England. It will dramatically increase the amount of fresh produce sold loose from boxes and pre-packed items on sale will be restricted substantially, cutting the amount of plastic and cardboard used to wrap food. If customers are not put off, it will be expanded to all 316 of the chain’s UK stores. Over the next 12 months, the retailer aims to slash the amount of packaging it uses on own-label food by a quarter. Growers have praised the scheme — as long they do not lose potential profits. Apple grower and packer, managing director of Kent-based Victoria Farm Peter Kedge welcomed the news, saying everyone must reduce packaging. “I think it’s a good idea — or at least we have to try it,” he said. “Sometimes convenience is a wonderful thing and it helps sell certain things but sometimes we have got to use our conscience. “It may be at the slight detriment to the grower for a time if customers don’t like it, but we have got to reduce packaging.” Bean and pea grower Bob Fiddaman said: “It’s an interesting exercise that will actually create more choice. I think [consumers will] like less packaging and enjoy choosing what they want rather than it being wrapped up. We’ll just have to see if there is a margin from less packaging that the grower gets their share.” Asda’s anti-packaging expert Emma Sinclair-Morris said: “We believe our customers would prefer to shop in this way if it means reducing waste. “Some fragile items such as strawberries and raspberries will always require some degree of packaging for protection, but most items can be sold loose while preserving quality.”

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