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WRAP targets 50% slash in UK fresh fruit and veg packaging by 2030

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) seeks to increase the amount of uncut fresh fruit and vegetables sold loose to 30 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030. 15% was the figure in 2021.

The non-profit organisation has released a report titled "Pathway To Selling More Uncut Fresh Fruit And Vegetables Loose" to reduce food waste and single-use plastic packaging in households.

WRAP asserts that retailers should embrace key principles as they transition to selling more fresh produce in bulk. While the long-term objective is to sell only unstructured products, investigations and process modifications should continue, and lessons learned and progress should be reviewed and accelerated whenever possible.

Fundamental Objectives

The programme states that fresh produce should be packaged if required by law or regulation, such as for phytosanitary control on imports or to prevent cross-contamination of allergens.

To normalise loose for the consumer while simultaneously maximising reductions in food waste and plastic packaging for high-turnover lines, the transition to loose should be prioritised and centred on primary or best-selling stock keeping units.

The report continues by recommending that businesses consult the Best Practice Guidance for Uncut Fresh Produce when determining which variety(s) to sell unrestrained.

In addition, WRAP emphasises that consumers should not be financially disadvantaged by purchasing unsecured products. For instance, loose variants should be offered at a comparable price to their packaged counterparts. Additionally, price comparisons must be highlighted, conspicuous, and easy to comprehend.

WRAP emphasises that consumers should not be financially disadvantaged by purchasing unsecured products.

Meanwhile, retailers should make scattered produce more visually appealing and prominent to increase sales. For online sales, messaging on loose and an appealing web shop for loose lines are required.

Finally, retailers should incorporate into their brand voice the best practise messaging devised by the WRAP Consumer Engagement Collaborative Action Group. Follow the Best Practice Guidance for Uncut Fresh Produce if you are an independent retailer or store that wishes to transition to loose.

Obstacles to Implementation

The pathway objectives are ambitious and will necessitate action on the part of the industry regarding existing processes, procedures, and behaviours. Throughout the development of the pathway, the industry has recognised a number of obstacles.

Overcoming these obstacles will necessitate cross-sector collaboration in the development of solutions, action planning, trials, and the dissemination of knowledge. These include, but are not limited to, the introduction of weighing capabilities, the impact of seasonal peaks when some products may be more prone to damage, and the delivery of cost-effectiveness when products can be packaged more efficiently.

Selling loose online – how to manage, deliver, and provide product information; maximising whole-crop utilisation; supply chain optimisation; and imported produce and products packed at source are additional obstacles to consider.

When developing the pathway, consideration must also be given to protection during the supply chain and transport, as well as a shift in consumer behaviour towards buying unpackaged as opposed to packaged, as well as associated barriers involving cost and convenience. Through the voluntary agreements, WRAP seeks industry commitment to continue collaborative action and investment in solutions for overcoming these challenges.

Discarded Produce

Food waste exacerbates global warming. Up to forty percent of all food produced worldwide is wasted, representing eight to ten percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Seventy percent of post-farmgate food waste in the United Kingdom is generated at home, with fresh fruits and vegetables accounting for the majority.

The £2.1 billion (US$2.6 billion) worth of fresh fruit and vegetables discarded in households is frequently discarded prior to preparation and cooking. In the meantime, the majority of fruits and vegetables are packaged in single-use plastics.

Last year, WRAP asserted to have demonstrated that plastic packaging does not inevitably extend the shelf life of uncut fresh produce and can increase food waste. In the United Kingdom, the organisation demanded an end to superfluous plastic packaging and Best Before labels on a wide variety of fresh, uncut produce.

While plastic packaging is a resource-efficient material, the NGO now cautions that the material's propensity to escape into the environment is evident on a global scale, with plastic pollution affecting the health of waterways and marine environments worldwide.

Plastics Recycling

In contrast, Innova Market Insights identifies "Plastics circularisation" as the leading packaging trend for 2023. Although plastic reduction efforts are gaining momentum and renewable alternatives are on the rise, plastic's inherent qualities as a lightweight, adaptable, and hygienic material mean that production and consumption continue to rise.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 61 % of global consumers believe that the increased use of plastic packaging is necessary, albeit undesirable, for safety reasons.

Despite the plastic pollution crisis and low recycling rates, 72% of global consumers continue to assume that plastic has average or above-average recyclability in comparison to other materials. In addition, half (52%) would pay more for a product packaged in recyclable materials.

Next Actions

In addition, the production of virgin plastics is extremely energy-intensive and heavily reliant on the extraction of finite fossil fuel feedstocks, which exacerbates climate change and pushes us closer to the planet's safe limits.

"Therefore, we must eliminate plastic where it is unnecessary and contributes unintendedly to climate change. And it is not sufficient to merely switch from one material to another, as all materials have an impact on the environment, according to WRAP.

WRAP asserts that it will continue to collaborate with retailers and their suppliers to facilitate the implementation of its pathway. Citizen engagement is crucial and must occur concurrently with the expansion of retailers' offerings of unsecured fresh produce.

The organisation for resource efficiency is supporting the development of consistent messaging for use by all retailers and stakeholders. WRAP will collaborate with stakeholders to test the specifics of this messaging to increase consumer engagement, and the results will be shared with the entire industry.


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