Feb 28, 2019

packages fruits and vegetables coming to a supermarket near you!

After working to lessen the use of plastic bags, with the goal of eventually discouraging it even more, the government is now encouraging an increase in the use of plastic, though not in the form of bags.

According to Ynet, the Ministry of Agriculture is offering financial incentives to supermarket chains that will agree to sell [some] vegetables packaged in plastic containers rather than loose.

פירות ירקות אריזות פלסטיק (צילום: מירב קריסטל)The Ministry of Agriculture is trying to solve, or lessen, a different problem - that of waste in the process of distribution and transport of some vegetables. They claim that selling the relevant vegetables in plastic containers rather than loose will decrease waste by 15%-17%, translating to as much as 20%-52% throughout the supply chain! It would also presumably decrease the amount of waste after the vegetables get to the consumer's home. The relevant vegetables (and fruit) are banana, cucumber, tomato, peppers, squash, cabbage and others, apples, nectarines, peaches, avocado and others. A chain that would sell 6 like this would get the financial reward, but a chain choosing to sell 10 or more would get even more.
פירות ירקות אריזות פלסטיק (צילום: מירב קריסטל)
The main benefit of packaging these vegetables is that they would retain their freshness and quality longer. On the other hand, customers would likely end up buying more as they would have to buy a package, or two or three, of cucumbers to get the amount they want even if it requires them to buy more, rather than just buy the 10 (or however many) cucumbers they want. Also, a package might look good on the outside, but some of the veggies further in that you cant see or feel might be lower quality. They claim your shopping will also go faster as a result, as you wont be feeling every cucumber and tomato you buy for freshness but would just take a package and move on. I dont think that is accurate - people will try to feel through the packaging, maybe they will even open the packaging and still feel the cucumbers, thus still ruining them! I think there might also be a health issue - people feel the vegetables and choose which to take and which to put back - someone with a cold or flu might leave his germs on the vegetables and spread his virus, while if in packaging it will keep consumers healthier.

Rami Levi supermarket chain suggests it is a good idea overall but will likely cause an increase in prices as the material and packing has to be paid for...

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  1. This is an excellent idea.

    Currently if you are at a supermarket and the cucumber bin is only 1/4 full, many shoppers won't even look through the cucumbers there as they assume that they have already been rejected by everyone else, normally those cucumbers need to be thrown out, their only purpose was to let shoppers think that they have a good selection

    With plastic boxes, if there are only 3 containers left on the shelf, you are still likely to take one as each box would be approximately the same quality as the boxes already sold.

  2. Even in countries where bundled veggies are available in transparent containers, supermarkets still stock single-quantity bulk items because it makes more sense and stimulates sales. Not every person walking into a supermarket wants to buy a "family-size" portion of anything. If they're not available in the supermarkets, then people will go to the public outdoor markets (shuk) to buy their small quantities. In the end, the supermarkets would lose customers. I don't think it would be a smart move nor do I believe it will catch on.


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