Fruit and veg revamp cuts food waste and saves shoppers time
14 August 2017
It was traditionally the supermarket aisle where shoppers purely bought their fruit and vegetables.
But now major changes in the produce area are having a profound effect on not only shopping habits but also the move to reduce food waste.
Instead of just fruit and vegetables Tesco fruit and veg aisles now offer shoppers more than 400 fresh, healthy ready meals, snacks and side dishes.
These include healthy carb alternatives such as Butternut Fusilli and Leek and Cavolo Bake; side dishes like Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms; snacks like Mexican Spiced Bean and Fruit Salsa; and dessert crumble mixes with fruit.
In the last two years rising demand for these prepared foods has grown by 10 per cent – the equivalent of an extra 1.5 million items bought by shoppers.
And their popularity is having a great environmental knock-on effect – a number of these dishes and snacks allow growers and producers to utilise all of their crops, such as cauliflower, carrots, swedes, broccoli and butternut, leading to less food waste.
For instance, cauliflowers considered too small to sell on their own are now being used to make cauliflower couscous - a healthier replacement for carbs – amongst other prepared veg dishes.
And wonky shaped carrots are now being used to make carrot spaghetti - another healthier alternative to carbs.
Tesco prepared produce buyer Elizabeth Hall said:
“These tempting new fresh fruit and veg foods are not only offering shoppers a far wider choice in healthy, nutritious meals but are also helping tackle food waste through greater crop utilisation.
“For growing numbers of shoppers the fruit and veg aisle is now the first destination they will head to, to find innovative and delicious new meals if they are pressed for time and looking for fresh food they can cook quickly.
“Until about five years ago the main prepared fruit and veg items were stir fry mixes, sides like roasting trays of vegetables, and fruit snack packs.
“These have been so popular that we began to expand the range in order to further help customers who are short on time but still want to experience the joy of cooking fresh food.”
Demand at Tesco has particularly rocketed over the last two years with:
- Spiralised vegetables such as courgette or carrot spaghetti – soaring by 40 per cent
- Edamame bean salads – growing by more than 100 per cent
- Organic prepared salads – up by nearly 90 per cent
- Healthy fruit snacks such as melon and mango ‘fingers’ – up 400 per cent
On account of their growing popularity Tesco is about to extend its range of prepared vegetable, fruit and salad dishes.
Among the new lines about to be launched are the UK’s first ever mushroom burgers as well as beetroot burgers; potato wedges with katsu dip and crunchy quinoa; and fajita mix with peppers and onions.
Added Tesco’s Elizabeth Hall: “It’s not only time-pressed shoppers that we are catering for with these new fresh ready meals and snacks.
“Healthy foods such as butternut fusilli and butternut lasagne sheets are meeting the needs of customers wanting to cut down on carbs and look after themselves through simple alternatives.”
Note to editors:
Timeline for evolution of the produce aisle
1990s – First prepared snacking fruit goes on sale which is washed, bite-size and ready to eat on the go as well as vegetable lines such as stir fry mixes
2000s – Launch of roasting vegetable trays plus ready-made salads
2010 onwards – Range widens to include ready-made side dishes such as stuffed mushrooms and peppers
2015 – Tesco launches UK’s first alternate carb spiralised vegetables
2017 – Produce aisle prepared range grows to include meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner