Waitrose ‘unpacks’ more products as demand for refillables grows

Above: Unpacked trial, Botley Road branch.

  • ‘Unpacked’ sales have grown by almost 9% in just six months
  • Test to integrate its refillable range into the aisles has increased sales by 20%

In response to a growing customer demand for refillables, Waitrose has announced that it is launching more new products as part of its pioneering ‘Unpacked’ refillable concept, including loose tea for the first time.

Sales of refillables at its four Unpacked shops* have grown by nearly 9% in the past six months with a number of products proving particularly popular with shoppers. Sales of refillable frozen fruit and vegetables for the same period have increased by more than 50%, detergent and washing-up liquid sales have grown by 24% and pulses, pasta and grains have risen by almost 8%.

Since Waitrose Unpacked launched in summer 2019 the concept has helped save hundreds of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.

In January Waitrose became the first national supermarket to integrate unpacked items into its regular aisles within its shop in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, rather than having a single unpacked area. The test aims to understand whether customers would be more likely to shop ‘unpacked’ by incorporating it into their normal routine shopping trips, rather than visiting a separate part of the shop.  The move has helped sales of refillables at the shop increase by more than 20% in the ten weeks of the test to date.

The 13 new products launching today build on the new lines it added at the end of last year and there are plans for more to be added later this year. The continued expansion of the range underlines Waitrose’s ambition to explore the potential to scale-up the initiative in the future.

The new lines, which have been selected following customer requests in categories where Waitrose has seen strong growth, will be available from this week and will all be cheaper than their packaged equivalent to encourage more people to make the switch to refillables.

There will be five different varieties of loose tea for customers to choose from, including Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea as well as Waitrose Gold tea. Dried apricots, dried fruit mix, raisins, sultanas and currants have also been added. Popcorn has also launched and from June, frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn will sit alongside the selection of frozen fruit and vegetables already on offer.

Marija Rompani, Partner & Director of Ethics & Sustainability, Waitrose, said: “We are really beginning to find some momentum with customers demonstrating that this is how they might be prepared to shop with us in the future and we are especially encouraged by the response to moving the concept in-asile to make it more of the norm when visiting us. We know there is much more work to do, but the reaction of customers right now is giving us the confidence to continue moving forward with Unpacked.”

*Waitrose Unpacked first launched in Waitrose Botley Road shop in Oxford in summer 2019 it was originally intended to be an eleven week test, but following its success it has continued there and was added to a further three shops; Wallingford, Abingdon and Cheltenham. The selection of refillable products available to customers, includes frozen fruit and vegetables, store cupboard essentials such as rice, pasta and grains, cereals, dried fruit, snacking and coffee, as well as Ecover washing-up liquid and detergent.

 

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