The eco-friendly Christmas boom has seen loose sprouts outperform packaged for the first time, as Waitrose reports a plastic-free veg boom across its most popular lines.
It is the first time in 20 years the retailer has seen loose potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sprouts, broccoli and red cabbage outsell the packaged variety.
The retailer has increased orders of these loose vegetables by 75 per cent this year at Christmas compared to last, following significant sales growth as sales of their packaged equivalents have decreased.
Loose carrots and loose red potatoes sales are up by 21 per cent and 23 per cent respectively in the last two months alone and sales of loose sprouts are outperforming their packaged version by 5 per cent.
Over the last ten months sales of loose broccoli are up 8 per cent and sales of loose parsnips have risen by 6 per cent, when a year ago they were in decline.
Plastic-wrapped produce was introduced in the late 1980s, just at the start of the rise in out-of-town supermarkets.
Waitrose & Partners fresh produce buyer, Paul Bidwell, said: “For the last 20 years the convenience of packaged produce has seen it outsell loose, but as consumers have become increasingly environmentally conscious and wanting to buy only what they need, we could be returning to how people used to shop with loose produce making a big comeback.
"We know we have a lot of work still to do to encourage customers to buy more loose fruit and vegetables, but there are signs we are seeing a shift in customer behaviour and we want to build on that momentum.”
Supermarkets have been reducing the amount of unnecessary packaging as consumers revolt against plastic pollution. The Telegraph earlier this year launched a Zero Waste campaign urging producers to cut plastic packaging and the government to simplify recycling.
Earlier this year, an investigation by this newspaper found that across the board, supermarkets were charging far more for loose vegetables than the same product when it was wrapped in plastic.
Consumers have also been revolting against needless packaging by taking the leftover plastic from their weekly shop back to the supermarket, in a scheme called "Our Plastic Feedback" championed by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall.