In the case of organic fruit and vegetables, Rewe has now revised its packaging strategy and offers some of these products unpackaged – or “with improved packaging”, as Rewe emphasizes. This was preceded by an “unpackaged test” in various markets. However, Rewe also stresses that packaging will not disappear from the vegetable shelf.
In August 2020, Rewe changed packaging for a complete partial assortment for the first time, namely for organic fruit and vegetables. “In the past few months we have gained important insights as to which of the 126 organic products we can take responsibility for dispensing with packaging,” says Peter Maly, the Managing Director responsible for sales at Rewe. “We now supply all our markets in Germany with our unpackaged or packaging-optimized organic fruit and vegetables”.
Thanks to the more environmentally friendly packaging design in more than 3,600 supermarkets, the retail group saves 210,000 kilograms of plastic and 80,000 kilograms of paper annually. Rewe also wants to transfer the findings to fruit and vegetables from conventional cultivation. For example, already ripened avocados and mangos will no longer be packed in trays.
Packaging reduces foodwaste
At the same time, however, Rewe emphasizes that plastic packaging is useful where it makes an important contribution to preventing premature spoilage. Lettuce is a good example of this: One result of a six-month “unpackaged test” of organic fruit and vegetables in 630 stores in southwest Germany was that Rewe could save 3,000 kilograms of plastic per year nationwide with unpackaged organic iceberg lettuce.
However, the missing wrapping would probably make 18.5 tons of organic iceberg lettuce unsaleable in the same period. Rewe has also noted increased copies of organic broccoli, which blossoms faster and loses freshness without foil. Highly sensitive berry fruits as well as fresh leaf salads such as lamb’s lettuce, rocket and Romanasalad hearts in organic quality would have to be offered in a protected way as well.
Unpacked carrots remain lying
According to Rewe, another result of the test is that the demand for organic carrots dropped significantly when they were offered loosely. More customers would have reached for the packed, conventional carrots. The consumer vote for carrots was therefore clearly “per package”. Packaging therefore has a relevant function where it bundles organic fruit and vegetables into sensible sales units. For fruit, Rewe therefore mainly uses cardboard trays, which do not need to be wrapped in the usual thin plastic film.