Tuesday 17th July 2012, 14:29 London
Asda aims for avocado accuracy
British retailer adopts colour-coded system to provide shoppers with better indication of how ripe avocados actually are
UK retailer Asda is preparing to introduce a new colour-coded packaging system designed to help shoppers judge more accurately the ripeness of avocados.
The group's traffic light system – which labels the fruit green for ripe and ready, yellow for nearly ripe and pink for ripen at home – is set to be rolled out to 30 stores next week, with a nationwide roll-out to 500 stores planned for later in the year.
The innovative system will rely on the avocados passing through a pressure sensor machine that measures their firmness and acoustic resonance by lightly tapping them four times in order to gauge ripeness.
The retailer said it was also hopeful that clearer labelling would mean less product ended up being wasted.
Shoppers in the UK reportedly throw away one million tonnes of fresh fruit every year, accounting for 13 per cent of all food waste in the country.
"From initial customer feedback, we think we're on to a winner as avocado ripeness is one of our shoppers' top bugbears. This simple system will simplify what has traditionally been a complicated product to purchase at the ripeness required."
Breaking the story, The Guardian newspaper quoted Josh Brooks, brand director of Packaging News, as saying: "Avocados are perhaps the hardest fresh products to judge as a shopper so any extra help in picking ripe avocados should be welcomed.
"This illustrates how crucial packaging can be in communicating important product information to consumers. A traffic light system is easy to understand and is already widely used for nutritional information."
Andy Dawe, head of food and drink at Wrap, told the newspaper: "Each year we throw away around £12bn-worth of avoidable food waste, which is roughly £680 a year for the average family with children. Wrap therefore welcomes initiatives, such as Asda's innovation, to provide customers with real options to help address the situation."