// 71.3% of UK consumers willing to use food refill services, according to GlobalData
// Rollout of bagless fruit & veg aisles, reusable containers & refill stations increasing among grocers
Almost three-quarters of Brits are willing to use food refill services in order to cut down on waste and improve food sustainability for the environment, new research has shown.
According to GlobalData, the rollout of bagless fruit and vegetable aisles, as well as refill stations for goods such as pasta, rice, grains and cereals, is increasing among grocery retailers.
These practices are in line with a greater willingness among UK shoppers to buy unpackaged food, with 71.3 per cent interested in using these services, GlobalData said.
Retailers that have already introduced refill or re-usable container services include Waitrose and Marks & Spencer
Waitrose recently announced it was extending its Unpacked trail to new stores after an “incredible” initial reaction from customers.
Stores taking part in the Unpacked trial saw the removal of packaging from more than 200 products to allow customers to fill their own reusable packaging, with a dedicated refillable zone including dispensers for dried and frozen goods, coffee, beer and laundry detergents.
Unpackaged fruit and vegetables are also be available.
Meanwhile, M&S introduced a scheme that incentivises customers to bring their own re-usable containers at some of its food stores’ food-to-go counters, whereby they receive a 25p discount off each meal for doing so.
On the other hand, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Lidl have introduced re-usable bags for fruit and veg.
“Amid growing awareness of the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment, retailers are keen to prove that they are acting responsibly and responding to consumers’ concerns,” GlobalData retail analyst Hannah Thomson said.
“After initial set-up costs, retailers could benefit from selling certain goods unpackaged and removing packaging costs.
“Waitrose has said that its ‘Unpacked’ trial resulted in cost savings from goods arriving instore in re-usable containers.”
GlobalData’s monthly survey of 2000 UK respondents found that 44.1 per cent of 16-24 year olds who had purchased grocery products in July had used a refill station in the last 12 months.
This compares with 35 per cent of 25-34 year-olds and just 25.4 per cent of 35-44 year-olds.
GlobalData suggested that solution could be to provide shoppers with recyclable paper bags or to offer a discount as an incentive for bringing re-usable containers, as is now common in coffee chains for customers with re-usable cups.
Such a discount could also help convince the 19.2 per cent of consumers who believe it would be more expensive to buy goods unpackaged.
“Encouragingly for retailers, the least-cited reason for not wishing to buy unpackaged items is a preference for branded products,” Thomson said.
“This leaves retailers free to switch suppliers in search of the best margins, and should give them the confidence to use suppliers which are able to deliver in bulk instead of in packaging, and not worry about customers’ brand loyalty.”