• August 6th, 2020

Fight against plastic: Are ‘nude’ fruit and veggi shelves the next thing? …Windhoek leads the way with Zero Waste Store

Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK - Anybody for ‘nude’ fruit and vegetables at your local Pick n Pay?
While the popular retail outlet has no plans to display a ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall – a dedicated plastic and packaging-free zone – in Namibia, it did exactly that last week in 13 stores across South Africa as part of a trial run to measure customers’ readiness to switch from pre-packaged food to loose products.

This came in the wake of Namibia making a bit of history on July 1 when Windhoek-based entrepreneur Brigitte Reissner opened up the first ever Zero Waste Store in the capital. In this store, consumers can buy what they want without traditional packaging.

Retail executive, commercial at Pick n Pay South Africa Paula Disberry said plastic waste remains a concern for many customers, and this trial would give them the choice to shop for more everyday fruit and vegetables free from plastic packaging.

Disberry said the nude included 12 new seasonal loose PnP fruit and vegetables. Brown steak mushrooms, portabellini mushrooms, red and green chillies, cocktail tomatoes, sweet Palermo peppers, baby brinjals, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, sweet corn and baby cabbage. These join the other 35 loose fruit and vegetables that were already available to customers.

A quick survey by Farmers Forum among shoppers at Pick n Pay in Windhoek revealed that the idea of ‘nude’ fruit and veggies is a bit sudden for Namibians. Comments ranged from “No!, everybody will be able to touch the fresh produce” to “It should be welcomed by Namibian customers as well as plastic is fast ruining our planet.”

Disberry said paper were available to customers at the ‘nude’ produce wall to complete their plastic-free greengrocer-inspired shop. Customers could purchase PnP’s new reusable netted fruit and vegetable fresh produce bag or bring their own transparent and sealable reusable bag for loose selling produce during the trial period.

“The company is really excited about this innovation and hopes to extend the loose range even further. Currently, the sale of loose products accounts for only 10 percent of all fruit and vegetables sold in PnP stores. There is scope to grow our ‘nude’ wall offering, but it needs to be sustainable and without unintended consequences. Reducing plastic waste has obvious benefits, but we need to be careful not to increase food waste levels during the process,” Disberry said.

She said packaging plays an important role for fresh produce as it protects the item, but also prevents dehydration and extends both the shelf and home life for the customer. Disberry said pre-packed produce can also be safely donated to food bank organisations, while not all loose products are suitable for donation.

“Previously our loose produce range wasn’t as popular as our pre-packed products. We believe this is shifting as consumers become increasingly more conscious about the environment. The impact of plastic is now front of mind for customers. We will closely monitor shopping behaviour and if this trial is successful, we can expand the initiative to more stores. That could include shops in Namibia as well,” said Disberry. Disberry said the thickness of their value-added vegetable bags has been maintained at 30 microns, making it the lightest bag in the market. Their decision to not increase the bags to 40 microns means PnP has prevented the use of approximately 12 tonnes of plastic last year.

Staff Reporter
2019-07-09 10:40:03 | 1 years ago

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