Pick n Pay is piloting a new 'pick and weigh' packaging-free zone that allows customers to purchase a wide range of products without any packaging. This trial is currently underway at the newly revamped Pick n Pay Constantia store in Cape Town.
There are 88 dry grocery products across 15 different categories from which customers can choose. This includes dry baking goods, cereals, dried fruit, flour, grains, ground coffee beans, nuts, pasta, pulses and beans, rice, seeds, spices, superfoods, olive oil and vinegar. Pick n Pay says each category will have a range of products, including gluten-free options.
Customers will be encouraged to bring their own reusable container, but for those who might forget theirs, the store will offer free paper bags and a range of reusable containers that can be purchased, such as a Consol jar.
“This is an innovative concept for a traditional supermarket, and we are really excited to help our customers reduce their packaging footprint,” says Paula Disberry, retail executive: commercial at Pick n Pay.
She says that all the products are sourced directly from suppliers and are delivered to the store in large reusable containers before being decanted into containers in the packaging-free zone. This means that no new packaging is used in delivering the items to the store.
Monitoring customer appetite
During the trial, Pick n Pay hopes to identify the top 20 or 30 products and roll out packaging-free zones to more stores across the country.
“We will closely monitor customer appetite for this offering and based on their feedback, will decide how to expand this offering. While all items are non-perishable with a naturally long shelf life, food waste is still a concern because without packaging, products will have a shorter shelf life.”
Disberry believes customers will embrace the opportunity to purchase packaging-free products, judging by the positive reaction to the ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall trial Pick n Pay ran in July this year to measure customers’ readiness to switch from pre-packaged food to loose products.
“The number of stores offering customers a ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall
has more than doubled since our trial launched, from just 13 stores to 29.
“Stores have also extended the range to offer 24 seasonal loose PnP fruit and vegetables, up from 12 products. At this special section in the store, free paper bags are provided or customers can purchase a PnP reusable netted fresh-produce bags (R7,50) or bring their own clear and sealable container.
“Through trials such as these, we believe we can find viable and sustainable alternatives for our customers. There are no easy or quick fixes, but we remain committed to working in collaboration with our customers, industry bodies and suppliers to help minimise the impact on our environment,” concludes Disberry.