New insights designed to help the food and drink sector transform the food system by changing the way consumers buy fresh fruit and veg in the UK.  

The opportunity is huge 

We know there is huge potential to reduce household food waste and plastic packaging by selling more uncut fruit and veg loose, removing best before dates and by storing fruit and veg at the right temperature. Research published by WRAP in 2022 pointed to gains that could be made through industry taking on board our three recommendations, with a staggering 14 million shopping baskets full of food waste that could be saved along with 1,110 truck loads of plastic if uncut fruit and veg is sold loose. 

To turn the research into reality an industry backed pathway was developed. An important next step but there is huge potential to go further and faster. 

Our new insights study has found that retailers have the opportunity to drive and deliver real change. But simply increasing the availability of loose will not be enough to drive change. Retailers have a key role to play in driving demand: encouraging their customers to choose loose fruit and veg and helping build consumer confidence. 

As a result of this research we are calling retailers to: 

  • Make pricing clear, simple, and comparable.  
  • Make loose fruit and veg an attractive offer.   
  • Engage customers on the benefits of buying loose.  

Key findings.

Key findings from mixed methods research undertaken between August and November 2023. This approach was designed to gather the depth and breadth of UK consumers’ fresh-produce-purchasing behaviours and generate actionable insights so that WRAP and the wider sector can transform the food system by changing the way consumers buy fresh fruit and veg in the UK. 

There is scope to grow loose fresh fruit and veg purchases… and people indicate they are willing to buy more 
  • Around three quarters (78%) of UK consumers buy at least one fresh fruit and veg item loose. 
  • Three in five (60%) agreed that they ‘would prefer to buy fresh fruit and veg loose / not in packaging'. 
People who are buying loose tell us that they waste less as a result. 
  • Those that bought fresh fruit and veg loose reported wasting less than those buying pre-packaged, especially for bananas, apples, and carrots. 

Key barriers and actions to take.  

Beyond a lack of availability of loose fresh fruit and veg in stores (reported by over two in five (44%) of UK consumers), four key barriers were identified: 

Barrier: Comparing prices can be difficult and confusing.
  • Action: Retailers to make pricing clear, simple, and comparable. This will allow customers to effortlessly compare prices, challenging the perception that loose produce is more expensive.  
Barrier: There is demand for being able to select the amount to purchase but salience of loose as a solution is low.
  • Action: Retailers to engage customers on the benefits of buying loose. Retailers can help bridge the intention-action gap by promoting the idea that buying loose allows for greater variety and flexibility in purchasing, potentially saving them money compared to buying larger packs. This can be done through in-store activations, communication, and providing guidance on portion sizes and recipes tailored to loose produce. 
Barrier: There is demand for being able to select quality produce but loose isn't always seen as good quality.
  • Action: Retailers need to address consumer perceptions that loose produce is of lower quality. e.g. by investing in instore messaging, customer communications, and merchandising of loose fruit and veg. 
Barrier: Environmental concern is not top of mind, but there is scope to leverage sustainability messaging.
  • Action: Retailers should test messaging around the environmental benefits of purchasing loose produce to target consumers concerned about sustainability. e.g. by engaging customers on the environmental benefits of minimizing plastic packaging and food waste by opting for loose items.


Download files

By downloading resources you are agreeing to use them according to our terms and conditions.

These files may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

  • Unpacking fruit and veg: Behavioural insights study

    PDF, 3.25 MB