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Tesco trials new packaging to reduce food waste

Supermarket hopes newly developed packaging will keep tomatoes and avocados fresh for longer and cut wastage

Tesco is the latest supermarket to trial new packaging that will keep fruit and vegetables fresher, in a bid to reduce food waste.

It will become the first retailer to see how the packaging performs in prolonging the freshness of tomatoes and avocados – produce that triggers the highest wastage in the food industry. Tesco estimates the new packaging could lead to a potential saving of 1.6m packs of tomatoes and 350,000 packs of avocados every year. If successful, it could be rolled out across 80% of the varieties of tomato it sells.

The packaging contains a strip that absorbs ethylene, the hormone that causes fruit to ripen and then turn mouldy. The strip was developed in the UK by It’s Fresh Ltd, which says it is 100 times more effective than any similar existing materials.

Initial trials further down the supply chain have been a success and suggest the device could be used across a wide range of fruit and vegetables. There will be no added cost to shoppers, according to Tesco.

Tesco ambient salad and avocado technologist Steve Deeble said: “The packaging is a major breakthrough in the fight to combat food waste and could save the fresh produce industry tens of millions of pounds each year. But it would also mean that shoppers will be able to keep fruit and vegetables for longer without feeling pressured to eat them within days of buying them.”

Deeble said if the trials were a success “we could start rolling out the packaging by Easter”.

Last month, Marks & Spencer launched the packaging for all its strawberries.

Trials in M&S stores showed a minimum wastage saving of 4% – which during the peak strawberry season would equate to 40,000 packs, or about 800,000 strawberries. M&S says it is committed to reducing waste as part of its programme to be the world’s most sustainable retailer, and hopes to extend the packaging to all berries.

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