September 12, 2016

Packaging our products

Recycling Week kicks off today and recyclable packaging is an area you have told us you interested in and have questions on.

To mark the week, we put your most commonly asked question about recycling and packaging to our Environment Manager, Iain Ferguson.

Why is there ‘unnecessary’ packaging on some of our fruit and vegetables?

Fresher and tastier for longer

“Contrary to common perception, perishable goods last longer in packaging. Although fruit and veg sweat more in some plastic packaging, they dry out much faster and last less time in paper or without any packaging at all.

The packaging is not there just for our customers to get the product home and keep it fresh in the kitchen fridge. It has to keep the food fresh from our supply chain to our customer’s homes.

If you buy your fruit and vegetables loose, make sure you check out the top tips for storage on our produce bags. We list all our commonly purchased fruit and vegetables on these bags with a tip on how to store each. Who knew that your apples live best in the fridge rather than a fruit bowl, and last two weeks longer refrigerated in their packaging rather than in that bowl.

Food safety

Packaging can be extremely clever and plays a very important part in keeping food safe as well as fresh.  A simple example is milk.  It can be supplied pasteurised or ultra-heat treated, both processes involve heating the milk to kill bacteria.  Without the packaging, that treatment wouldn’t last very long at all.

We apply similar ideas to our steaks. We put them in packs without oxygen to control the bacteria which means that the steaks last for 17 days and stay succulent.  We couldn’t do that without the packaging.”

Making packaging more recyclable is a big focus for the Co-op, we’re always innovating and we recently became the first retailer to back the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP).

Recycling Week is a fantastic week to celebrate and raise the profile of the huge importance of recycling. Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager

To find out more about how to keep your food fresher for longer and reduce food waste visit the Love Food, Hate Waste website.


Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. great thing for the co-op to be pioneering


  2. Still prefer my fruit and veg without the plastic thanks. Lasts plenty long enough in my fridge when I buy it loose from local market.


  3. I take co-op’s point that they need to keep food fresh for sale. Would it be possible to pioneer reusable packaging which keeps the food fresh up to the point of sale, this could be returned by the customer for a deposit, or replaced by the customer’s own bags (reusable bags, paper bags). I imagine there would be higher costs in developing durable reusable packaging, but it might pay off, particularly if it was standardised as a means of transporting food from supply sources to supermarkets in optimum condition. Could significantly reduce the tides of plastic having to be thrown away in a very short space of time….


    • A very interesting idea, I believe some retailers abroad operate in a similar way where products are sold by weight and customers bring their own containers/packaging. The question is, how does this relate to a convenience retailer who’s success lies in our ability to be quick, efficient and fast? ^Jordan


  4. Excellent answer. It’s important to remember what the packaging contains. Food has to be protected from bacteria and other contaminants.

    Liked by 1 person


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