Major supermarkets are selling plastic-packaged fruit and vegetables for less than customers can buy them loose, an investigation has found.
MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) found at least half of the produce it checked at local branches of Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco was between 10% and 54% cheaper to buy wrapped in single-use plastic rather than loose.
It comes as the Government’s long-awaited 25-year environment plan proposed to encourage supermarkets to introduce “plastic-free” aisles.
MSE said in some cases, some supermarkets were effectively penalising customers for trying to help the environment by buying produce sold loose.
Six Gala apples sold in packaging at Asda cost £1.25 compared with the same amount and type for £1.92 sold loose – a 54% price difference – while a three-pack of courgettes cost £1.20 packaged up and 35% more when bought loose at £1.62.
At Lidl, a three-pack of mixed peppers cost 95p but £1.44 sold loose, a five-pack of oranges cost 95p but £1.50 sold loose and two avocados packaged together were sold for £1.75 but were £1.98 when bought loose.
At Morrisons, limes, oranges and Gala apples were all cheaper packaged.
Sainsbury’s sold five bananas for 10p more when bought loose, six Granny Smith apples for 45p more loose, as well as three peppers for 27% less when packaged.
At Tesco, bananas and peppers were cheaper packaged, with only Waitrose proving cheaper for all the fresh produce included in the survey which was loose rather than packaged.
Gary Caffell, deals editor at MSE, said: “With household budgets stretched, groceries are one of the main expenses that consumers are always looking to save on. It seems ridiculous that packaged fruit and veg can ever be cheaper than loose, and it certainly won’t help to win the war on plastic waste.
“From a money-saving point of view, don’t assume that loose fruit and vegetables bought at the supermarket is always cheaper and be sure to compare the price tags, paying close attention to the price per kilogram if the produce is sold by weight.”