UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer is set to roll out a new packaging next week, which it claims will extend life of fruit stored in fridges by up to two days.

The retailer will add a small plaster-style strip measuring 8cm by 4.5cm at the bottom of punnets of strawberries, containing a patented mixture of clay and other minerals that absorb ethylene, the hormone that causes fruit to ripen and then turn mouldy.

The company claims that the strip does not affect the recyclability of the material and there is no extra cost to the consumer because of the packaging.

M&S agronomist Hugh Mowat said the packaging will help the customers reduce their food waste, as they no longer need to worry about eating their strawberries as soon as they buy them. Should the move with stawberries prove successful, the company will consider adding the innovative strips to all the berries it sells.

Trials carried out in M&S stores showed a minimum wastage saving of 4%, which would equate to 40,000 packs, or about 800,000 strawberries during the peak strawberry season, reports the Guardian. M&S strawberries are mainly imported from Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Spain, especially during April, when the British strawberry season starts.

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In June last year, the firm announced it had saved £11m in the 2010/11 financial year as a result of packaging reduction initiatives carried out under its ‘Plan A’ sustainability initiative. M&S reduced the weight of non-glass packaging by 26% per item since 2006/07, with non-glass packaging for food down by an average of 20% and a reduction of 46% in general merchandise.

The retailer had also reduced home delivery packaging by 16% between 2008/09 and the end of 2010. In addition, it increased the amount of recycled polyester used to 1,900t.


Image: M&S’s new packaging technology is set to help customers reduce their food waste. Image courtesy of Mtaylor848