Customers in three Countdown stores are experiencing a very different-looking produce section from today, as part of a ten-week plastic reduction test which will see more than a tonne of plastic removed from fruit and veges.  More than 800 customers have provided feedback in-store this morning already.

In addition to the sixty-eight products that have been ‘unwrapped’ from their usual plastic wrap or pack, plastic produce bags have also been removed as part of the test, which launched today at Countdown supermarkets in Ōrewa, Ponsonby and Manukau.  Customers will see more loose produce as well as specially-designed paper bags and cardboard packaging. Countdown is encouraging customers to use reusable bags for produce, and in the bulk food section plastic bags have been replaced with paper bags.

Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, said the company is excited to see how customers respond to the new-look produce area with far less plastic.

“What our customers in these stores will be experiencing is completely different to what they’ve seen before, and their feedback will be a hugely important part of our work to reduce plastic across the supermarket,” said Kiri Hannifin.

“Our teams serve three million New Zealanders every week in our stores. While it might sound easy to change packaging, there is a complicated system behind the scenes to ensure that we can provide great quality, fresh food for every single one of those customers every day.  ‘Unwrapped’ will change the way our customers shop for ten weeks, but it could have a long-lasting impact on how all New Zealanders shop in the future and help guide our next steps.”

Countdown Ponsonby Store Manager Paul Maxwell said he’s already hearing good things from his customers about the changes.

“We’ve had a lot of great feedback this morning, with people really excited about the changes and so willing to take part in this test. I think people are genuinely surprised about how different it looks,” said Paul Maxwell.

“Getting rid of plastic is something I hear a lot about from customers so it’s awesome to be able to give them some real and tangible changes.  It’s going to take a bit of behaviour change from us all but from what I’ve seen this morning in my store, customers are really excited about giving it a go and are adapting really well already.”

Countdown will be closely monitoring a number of other factors during the ‘Unwrapped’ test including food waste, and any impact on team and suppliers.