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Shoppers bring own food containers for fish and cheese amid plastic backlash, Waitrose sales figures show

Helena Horton
The supermarket has begun allowing people to bring their own pots to store items bought from its fresh counters - © 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

Shoppers are ditching plastic packaging and bringing in their own containers for fish, meat and cheese, according to Waitrose figures.

The supermarket has begun allowing people to bring their own pots to store items bought from its fresh counters in some of its stores due to growing awareness of plastic packaging.

Many are gradually buying less pre-packed meat, fish and cheese, as the high-end retailer begins to shift its focus towards a more plastic-free future. 

Its figures show that meat counter sales are up 4 per cent, with fish counter sales up by 3 per cent year on year.

The biggest sales increase on the meat counter is Abervale lamb, which is sustainably produced, and it is up by 16 per cent.

On the fish counter mussels are up 36 per cent as shoppers opt for these instead of the pre-packaged kind available.

The supermarket became the first to have a completely refillable shop earlier this year, in Botley Road, Oxford, and since then they have seen shoppers across the country keen to come in with their own containers.

More than 50 per cent of shoppers at that store bring in pots to be filled, while the rest purchase reusable containers on site.

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Waitrose & Partners, Tor Harris, said: "The reaction to Waitrose Unpacked has been incredible with the invaluable feedback from thousands of customers giving us the confidence that they are prepared to change how they shop with us. 

"One of the most popular initiatives has been the bring your own containers, with over 50% of Unpacked customers now doing this. The increased awareness has made our other customers across the country pick up their containers and bring them into our shops.

" We have seen this working particularly well with people shopping at our meat & fish counters, giving them another option to reduce their plastic waste." 

Waitrose has also become the first retailer in the country to sell MSC-certified tuna steaks at its counters. While the fish sustainability regulator does not usually recommend people buy tuna steaks, it has endorsed the new product sold by the supermarket.