Veg boxes - less plastic than supermarkets

Less plastic than supermarkets

Read the results of our plastic packaging comparison.

Riverford’s veg boxes contain 77% less plastic than equivalent packaged products from major UK supermarkets*.

Riverford’s 3 most popular veg boxes contained 77% 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 (Small Original, Medium Original and Medium Less Roots Original) to comparable packaged supermarket products.

The packaging in each box was weighed every week for four weeks in July (from the 1st – 29th), 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 small
veg box (original)
Items in medium
veg box (original)
Items in medium
veg box (less roots)
W/C
1st July
New potatoes 600g New potatoes 1kg Onions 500g
Bunched carrots 500g Carrots 650g Carrots 650g
Summer greens 250g Broad beans 800g Sweet potatoes 600g
Celery x1 bunch Courgettes 500g Summer greens 400g
True spinach 200g True spinach 300g Courgettes 500g
Cherry tomatoes 200g Cos lettuce x1 Mixed salad leaves 80g
Basil 40g Romano peppers x2 Mini cucumber x2
Radishes x1 bunch Cherry tomatoes 250g Romano peppers x2
W/C
8th July
New potatoes 600g New potatoes 1kg Bunched onions x1 bunch
Red onions 400g Red onions 500g Carrots 650g
Carrots 500g Carrots 650g French beans 300g
True spinach 200g French beans 300g Baby spinach 150g
Courgettes 400g Mixed salad leaves 80g Courgettes 500g
Chestnut mushrooms 150g Chestnut mushrooms 200g Chestnut mushrooms 200g
Romano pepper x1 Mini cucumber x2 Mini cucumber x2
  Tomatoes 480g Sweet mixed peppers 250g
  Basil 40g  
W/C
15th July
New potatoes 600g New potatoes 1kg Red onions 500g
Spring onions 125g Bunched onions x1 bunch Bunched carrots 500g
Carrots 500g Carrots 650g Sugarsnap peas 200g
French beans 250g Broad beans 80g True spinach 300g
Mixed salad leaves 80g Baby spinach 150g Courgettes 500g
Mini cucumber x1 Zephyr courgettes 500g Mixed salad leaves 80g
Cherry tomatoes 200g Romano peppers x2 Mini cucumber x2
  Cherry tomatoes 250g Cherry tomatoes 250g
W/C
22nd July
New potatoes 600g New potatoes 1kg Bunched onions x1 bunch
Bunched onions x1 bunch Spring onions 125g Carrots 650g
Bunched carrots 500g Carrots 650g Baby spinach 150g
Broad beans 500g French beans 300g Sweetcorn x2 cobs
Courgettes 400g Sweetcorn x2 cobs Zephyr courgettes 500g
Batavia lettuce x1 Courgettes 500g Cos lettuce x1
Romano pepper x1 Mixed salad leaves 80g Mini cucumber x2
  Radishes x1 bunch Cherry tomatoes 250g

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.


Riverford


Aldi


Asda


Lidl


Waitrose


Morrisons


Sainsbury's


Tesco

Here are the results

  Weight of plastic packaging (g)
Riverford
Morrisons
Aldi
Lidl
Tesco
Waitrose
Asda
Sainsburys
Supermarkets average
small original total 4 weeks 31 110 130 124 132 121 109 115  
average per week 7.75 27.5 32.5 31 33 30.25 27.25 28.75
medium original total 4 weeks 26 131 149 118 128 130 133 127
average per week 6.5 32.75 37.25 29.5 32 32.5 33.25 31.75
medium less roots total 4 weeks 28 119 138 109 130 109 128 125
average per week 7 29.75 34.5 27.25 32.5 27.25 32 31.25
Average across all boxes (4 week) 28.33 120 139 117 130 120 123.33 122.33 124.52
Average across all boxes (4 week) 7.08 30 34.75 29.25 32.5 30 30.83 30.58 31.13

Conclusions

Riverford’s veg boxes contain 77% 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 Lidl with 29.25g, and the highest was Aldi with 34.9g.

The results may show we are faring well in minimising our use of plastic – but we don’t want to rest on our laurels. Although we current use less than a quarter of the plastic packaging of supermarkets, we think we can get this closer to a tenth in the colder months (when produce is typically less perishable).

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 1st July through to the 29th July 2018.