Riverford Wicked Leeks
Veg boxes - less plastic than supermarkets

Less plastic than supermarkets

Read the results of our plastic packaging comparison.

Riverford’s veg boxes contain 82% less plastic than equivalent packaged products from major UK supermarkets*.

Riverford’s 3 most popular veg boxes contained 82% less plastic packaging collectively when compared to representative, packaged products across 7 UK supermarkets.

Introduction

Riverford only use packaging when it’s strictly necessary to prevent food waste, and we’re always finding ways to use less. Over the last six months, we’ve been working particularly closely on our use of plastics. Although a necessary evil in some cases (without it, moist, leafy veg quickly dehydrate and wilt), we have reduced our plastic packaging wherever possible, and sourced innovative alternative solutions that still fit the products’ needs.

To see how we’re progressing after extensive research and innovation, we decided to run a comparable packaging test with the leading UK supermarkets. As we’re most well-known for our veg boxes, we decided to compare our 3 most popular boxes (seasonal organic - small, seasonal organic - medium, quick organic - medium) to comparable packaged supermarket products.

The packaging in each box was weighed every week for four weeks from October 15th (to November 5th), and compared against the same products from Morrisons, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda. As our box contents change every week, take a look at the products that were compared in the table below:

Week Items in seasonal
organic veg box - small
Items in seasonal
organic veg box - medium
Items in quick
organic veg box -medium
W/C
15th October
Red potatoes 700g Red potatoes 1kg Onions 500g
Carrots 500g Carrots 650g Onions 500g
Butternut squash x1 Sweet potatoes 600g Cauliflower x1
Cauliflower x1 Cauliflower x1 Red Russion kale 350g
Curly kale 200g Savoy cabbage x1 Leeks 500g
Cos lettuce x1 Leeks 500g Mixed salad leaves 80g
Cherry tomatoes 200g Mixed salad leaves 80g Chestnut mushrooms
  Cherry tomatoes 250g Cherry tomatoes 250g
W/C
22nd October
Leeks 400g Leeks 500g Fennel 350g
Potatoes 700g Courgettes 500g Courgettes 500g
Onions 400g Potatoes 1kg Purple carrots 650g
Purple carrots 500g Onions 500g Sweet potatoes 600g
Cime di rapa 250g* Purple carrots 650g Cauliflower x1
Mixed salad leaves 80g Beetroot 500g Savoy cabbage x1
Cherry vine tomatoes 250g Curly kale 350g Cos lettuce x1
  Radicchio x1 Red peppers x2
W/C
29th October
Potatoes 700g Potatoes 1kg Onions 500g
Carrots 500g Onions 500g Carrots 650g
Cauliflower x1 Carrots 650g Romanesco cauliflower x1
Courgettes 400g Butternut squash x1 Leeks 500g
Red Russian kale 200g Leeks 500g January king cabbage x1
Cos lettuce x1 Savoy cabbage x1 Mixed salad leaves 80g
Plum/cherry tomatoes 250g Cime di rapa 300g* Chestnut mushrooms 200g
  Tomatoes 480g Tomatoes 480g
W/C
5th November
Potatoes 700g Potatoes 1kg Carrots 500g
Carrots 500g Onions 500g Butternut squash x1
Butternut squash x1 Carrots 650g Savoy cabbage x1
Savoy cabbage x1 Romanesco cabbage x1 Cime di rapa 300g*
True spinach 200g Green cabbage x1 Aubergine x1
Leeks 400g Black kale (cavelo nero) x1 bunch Leeks 500g
Courgettes 400g Mixed salad leaves 80g Mixed salad leaves 80g
  Tomatoes 480g Cherry tomatoes 250g

*As cime di rapa was unavailable in any of the supermarkets, we have discounted it from the study.

Method

In total, the packaging of 30 Riverford products was compared to the supermarket equivalent. We went to each supermarket and brought organic, comparable produce where possible. It’s important to note that we didn’t select items from the supermarkets that were excessively packaged; we simply compared organic where possible, in the same weights.

We removed the packaging intact and retained it for weighing, made sure that any other materials such as cardboard were removed, and then weighed the plastic.

Here are the results

These are the results from our October-November study. To see the results from our August study, click here.

  Weight of plastic packaging (g)
Riverford
Morrisons
Aldi
Lidl
Tesco
Waitrose
Asda
Sainsburys
Supermarkets average
seasonal - small total 4 weeks 26.90 152.15 137.05 215.05 115.40 142.90 148.15 114.45  
average per week 6.73 38.04 34.26 53.76 28.85 35.73 37.04 28.61
seasonal - medium total 4 weeks 17.80 140.50 146.15 124.00 128.74 148.45 169.25 123.40
average per week 4.45 35.13 36.54 31.00 32.19 37.11 42.31 30.85
quick - medium total 4 weeks 35.60 163.05 155.25 148.15 146.09 152.35 177.20 132.45
average per week 8.90 40.76 38.81 37.04 36.52 38.09 44.30 33.11
Average across all boxes (4 week) 26.77 151.90 146.15 162.40 130.08 147.90 164.87 123.43 131.69
Average across all boxes (per week) 6.69 37.98 36.54 40.60 32.52 36.98 41.22 30.86 36.67

Conclusions

Riverford’s veg boxes contain 82% less plastic than equivalent packaged products from major UK supermarkets*.

Riverford had the lowest total plastic weight each week compared to all supermarkets. There wasn’t much difference in the weight of plastic packaging across the different supermarkets; the lowest average per week was Sainsburys with 30.86g, and the highest was Asda with 41.22g.

The average amount of plastic used by supermarkets has increased since our previous study, rising from 31.13g to 36.67g.

Disclaimer

*Less plastic collectively by weight when we compared the contents of our 3 most popular boxes to the comparable, like for like, packaged produce purchased from 7 major UK supermarkets: Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose. Please note, box contents change every week and can vary in packaging weight, but we will be running this test every quarter for consistency. The box testing was carried out from 15th October through to the 5th November 2018.