A group of New World supermarkets in New Zealand has seen sales of some vegetables increase by up to 300 per cent after a decision to ditch plastic packaging on fresh fruit and veg.
The ‘food in the nude’ project, pioneered by the New World store at Bishopdale in Christchurch, is part of the war against plastic and has resulted in positive feedback from customers.
“We monitor them [sales] year on year and after we introduced the concept we noticed sales of spring onions, for example, had increased by 300 per cent,” Bishopdale store owner Nigel Bond told the NZ Herald.
“There may have been other factors at play but we noticed similar increases in other vegetable varieties like silver beet and radishes.
Bond was inspired by Whole foods supermarket in the US and began discussions with growers and suppliers about providing produce free of plastic packaging.
A new refrigeration shelving system for displaying fresh fruit and vegetables was installed and the produce is misted to stay fresh.
“Vegetables are 90 per cent water and studies have shown that misted produce not only looks better, retains its colour and texture, but also has higher vitamin content,” Bond told the NZ Herald.
“We’ve also installed a reverse osmosis system that treats the water by removing 99 per cent of all bacteria and chlorine, so we are confident the water we’re misting with remains pure.”
While some produce including berries, grapes and some tomatoes still come in plastic containers, most of this packaging is recyclable.
New World is also encouraging customers to bring their own containers for meat and seafood, with trials underway in a number of stores.
In a recent food trends report for New Zealand, United Fresh predicted a trend towards fresh produce and signalled that more retailers and manufacturers will join the plastic-free revolution.
Consumers are expected to undergo smaller, more frequent shops with a focus on fresh ingredients and ready-to-eat options, such as frozen products and wholefood ‘good for you’ treats.
“Primary producers are also seeing the value in the delivery market with everyone form local greengrocers to fruit orchardists joining the online revolution and supplying direct to consumers in major centres.”
United Food’s expects 2019 to be the year retailers and manufacturers are convinced to join the plastic-free revolution, with pressure mounting from consumers demanding supermarkets ditch plastic wrapped goods.
According to the Ministry of Environment, New Zealanders create around 2.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill, with about 252,000 tonnes of this being plastic, each year.
Kiwi supermarkets are expected to take a leaf from their UK counterparts, which have committed to ensuring all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled or composted by 2025.