In the past six months, the grocery chain has experienced growth of nearly 9% with several products, becoming particularly popular with shoppers.  Sales of refillable frozen fruit and vegetables for the same period have increased by more than 50% and washing-up liquid sales have grown by by 24%.

The Unpacked project was launched in Summer 2019, in Oxford and was extended past the original 11 weeks to other Unpacked stores in Abingdon, Cheltenham and Willingdon.  

Waitrose integrated the unpacked items into the regular aisles of its shops in Oxfordshire and Wallingford, instead of having a segregated area for the packaging-free items. They wanted to understand whether customers would shop more unpacked products when mixed to other categories, rather than visiting an isolated part of the supermarket.

The test saw sales of refillables increase by more than 20% in 10 weeks, helping to avoid hundreds of unnecessary packaging and plastic. 

Waitrose perceived a strong growth in the new lines, which have been selected following customer requests and are priced cheaper than their packaged equivalent to inspire more people to switch to refillables.

Marija Rompani, Director of Sustainability and Ethics at Waitrose said: “We are really beginning to find some momentum with customers, demonstrating that this is how they might be prepared to shop with us in the future and we are especially encouraged by the response to moving the concept in-aisle to make it more of the norm when visiting us,” she said.

“We know there is much more work to do, but the reaction of customers right now is giving us the confidence to continue moving forward with Unpacked.”

The selection of refillable products available to customers, includes five different selections of loose tea, mixed dried fruit, popcorn, frozen vegetables, pasta, grains and coffee.  The continued expansion of the range underlines Waitrose’s ambition to explore the potential to scale-up the initiative in the future.


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