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New Zealand Supermarkets See Increased Sales By Offering "Food In The Nude"

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/01/2019 | 2 Minute Read

It goes without saying that selling produce and other supermarket items package-free reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills, or worse, our oceans and waterways. But for a group of supermarkets in New Zealand, they’ve noticed an unintended consequence when they experimented with selling produce package-free—an increase in sales, with some items seeing a threefold increase.

As reported by the New Zealand Herald, a group of New World supermarkets started an experiment called “food in the nude,” removing all plastic wrapping from almost all of their fruit and vegetables, installing refrigeration shelves, misters, coordinating with suppliers, and even visiting supermarkets like Whole Foods all the way in the US to do research.

It's almost like bringing the farmer's market to the grocery store.

Supermarket owner Nigel Bond of Bishopdale not only noticed an increase in sales but also that his customers had a connection to the produce they were buying. It also helped that the fruits and vegetables just looked better.

"It reminded me of when I was a kid going to the fruiterer with my Dad, you could smell the fresh citrus, and spring onions. By wrapping products in plastic we sanitize and deprive people of this experience,” said Bond.

New World is also trying BYOC (Bring Your Own Container) for meat and seafood counters, but one owner-operator, Brendon Jones admits that “take-up has been slow.” Zero-waste and BYOC is still an emerging trend, seeing some success in Europe and Asia but hasn’t taken off in other places like the US. Some consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo and others are partnering up to deliver their products in reusable containers via a new service called Loop.

Consumers are rewarding companies like New World for making changes that reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging. Others, like BYOC/reusable containers, will take more effort, but it seems to be in line with public sentiment towards reducing the amount of single-use packaging that wraps up our food.