Outrage has brewed once again over Woolworths’ “disgusting” use of plastic — this time to package “mini” versions of fruit.
A photo from inside a supermarket in Melbourne showing dozens of plastic packets of pears, bananas, apples and mandarins displayed on a table sparked anger after it was shared to the retailer’s Facebook page on Sunday.
In posting the photo, the shopper expressed her confusion as to why the plastic bags were even necessary.
“Seriously Woolworths? All this plastic, for what reason? Because they’re ‘mini’?,” she wrote.
Others shared similar grievances in comments to the post, one describing the practice as “disgusting” and calling on the retailer to be more responsible with its packaging.
“That’s just disgusting and a complete disappointment. Open your eyes Woolies. This isn’t what customers want. And while you’re at it, get a new manager in charge of packaging,” one person wrote.
Another Facebook user pointed the finger at people who purchase plastic-packaged fruit, accusing them of fuelling the problem.
“If people didn't buy them but bought the loose ones instead then Woolies wouldn't make a profit on them and stop selling them. Shame on the people that buy them over loose,” they said.
A spokesperson from Woolworths responded to complaints, writing that the supermarket giant was committed to providing options to different shoppers, and that packaging fruit helped it reduce overall wastage.
“Most produce will be available loose for purchase as we know both options appeal to different customers, with many taking advantage of pre-packed versions to better manage budgets at the checkout,” they wrote in a comment.
“The packaging on produce helps with reducing food waste. Packaging protects the quality and extends the shelf life of fruit and vegetables as they’re transported from the farm, to the store and to our customers.”
They also claimed plastic-wrapped continental cucumbers lasted longer than if they were unwrapped.
Someone else argued however that produce they purchased lasted longer if removed from its plastic packaging.
“I find they go yuck if stored too long in the plastic too, I have to take them out for them to last longer,” they wrote.
Woolies plastic mini fruit concept ‘poorly executed’
Marketing expert at the University of Technology Sydney Dr David Waller told Yahoo News Australia the concept, aimed at kids to help increase their fruit consumption, was “a good idea but poorly executed”.
“It’s another example that Woolworths is being inconsistent with their message,” Dr Waller said.
“They take away single-use plastic bags, but then they sell bags for 15 cents, then they talk about being green, and reducing plastic, but then give away plastic toys.”
He added while it was positive to encourage children to engage in healthy eating, Woolworths needed to be “careful to make sure they are following up on what they say they do.”
Why is mini fruit packaged in plastic?
Dr Waller said Woolworths likely packaged mini fruit in this way to target children, as their size is suitable to fill lunch boxes.
“They probably would’ve thought that by aiming at a kid’s market, mothers would love them. There are even many reviews from parents saying they enjoy using them,” he said.
On the contrary, he said lots of people had complained about the unnecessary use of plastic and urged the supermarket to sell the fruit loose or at least use a biodegradable material.
“I think they should continue with the campaign to get more kids to eat fruit, but leave them as unpacked fruit, or have them in recyclable mesh or brown paper bags,” Dr Waller said.
“Rather than having just five in a bag, let people individually pick them up and choose how many they want.”
Shoppers were previously upset by what they viewed as too much plastic being used to wrap cartons of milk.
Earlier this year, customers complained the store was sending mixed messages to consumers after its single-use plastic bag ban.
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