Avocados are ripe for waste prevention, says ASDA

ASDA is trialling a colour-coded 'traffic light' system for its avocados to prevent food waste by enabling customers to see the different stages of ripeness before purchase.

Packaging experts at the supermarket have devised colour-coded boxes for its fresh avocados – a green box indicates the fruit is ripe and ready to eat, orange indicates it is almost ripe while pink means it requires a little more time.

The retailer is piloting the scheme across 30 of its stores, but intends to roll it out later in the year to all of its 500 stores in the UK.

Research undertaken by ASDA found that almost one in five consumers find it hard to tell how ripe an avocado is before cutting into it. This can lead to food waste as the fruit can be left unused until it is too late to eat.

According to the company’s head of corporate policy for sustainability Julian Walker-Palin, the new colour-coded packaging will allow shoppers to buy the fruit with the level of ripeness to fit their menu.

“The trial will show us whether this system works for our customers and continues our support for WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste programme,” he said.

ASDA’s avocado buyer Damien Gray said the development was “ground-breaking” and that the company was the first supermarket to do this.

“From initial customer feedback, we think we’re on to a winner as avocado ripeness is one of our shoppers’ top bugbears. This simple system will simplify what has traditionally been a complicated product to purchase at the ripeness required.”

This latest initiative comes amid growing competition among the major retailers to optimise packaging while clamping down on food waste.

In May, Tesco announced its second wave of packaging designed to keep produce fresher for longer. This saw the launch of a new film in its stores that claims to double the amount of time fruit and vegetables stay fresh.

Marks & Spencer is also using a similar strip in product trials to keep strawberries fresher. The company reckons the new technology could cut the amount of waste by the equivalent of 40,000 punnets.

Maxine Perella

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