The Packaging versus Product debate

Reflecting on our announcement this week that we are trialling in 30 stores selling avocados in coloured trays made me think about the role of packaging in protecting products. When is packaging optimised and when is it excessive?

The reason the avocados are being sold in three types of coloured trays is to prevent product wastage. Our Buyer, Damien Gray, knows that avocados can be tricky to select the ripeness you want at the time you buy them and can too often be left unused until its too late and they end up in the bin! This colour coded packaging allows our customers to buy them with the level of ripeness to fit their menu, for example to buy avocados ready to eat now (choose the green colour pack), close to ripening (the orange colour) or with some time until they are ready to eat (the pink pack). The trial will show us whether this system works for our customers and continues our support for WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste programme.

There’s no doubt its normally more environmentally damaging to waste products due to the resources, fuel, farming processes and distribution that’s gone into growing them versus a few sheets of recycled cardboard. However packaging is often highly visibly left over after the product has been consumed and so often maligned.

I’m certainly not saying that in the past we, and others, didn’t use too much packaging – we’ve eliminated over 28% of the weight of our packaging since our reduction drive started in 2007 but having led the industry in light weighting packaging we now need to make sure that we don’t forget its crucial role in protecting products.

Shane Monkman, our packaging head, knows better than most the balancing act this entails. He’s one of the top industry experts and tells me that its all about “optimising” packaging not simply “light weighting”. You can see some of his team’s activity here. Let me know what you think about avocados in coloured trays, Mrs Walker-Palin is very excited!

Posted by Julian on 18 July 2012
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