Pick n Pay veggies now have sell-by dates etched onto their skin - here's why

Business Insider SA
Pick n Pay
Laser printed sweet potato.
  • Thirteen Pick n Pay stores are getting “plastic and packaging-free” produce walls.
  • Instead of plastic packaging, customers can bring their own containers – provided the containers are transparent and sealable.
  • Pick n Pay wants to increase the sale of loose products, which now accounts for only 10% of all fruit and vegetables sold. 
  • They will also laser etched veggies to reduce printing plastic labels.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

You can now bring your own containers to some Pick n Pay stores and load up on fruit and veg, instead of having it packaged in plastic. 

Some 13 stores will now feature “plastic and packaging-free” produce zones - called "nude zones" - as part of a trial to see if customers can be convinced to switch from pre-packaged food to buying loose products.

Customers can bring their own containers to pack the fruit and vegetables – provided the containers are transparent and sealable.

The store will also sell reusable netted fruit and vegetable bags (R7.50) if you don't have a container. 

Pick n Pay
Pick n Pay has launched ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable isles. Photo supplied.

Pick n Pay wants to increase the sale of loose products in its aisles, which now accounts for only 10% of all fruit and vegetables sold in its stores.

“There is scope to grow our ‘nude’ wall offering, but it needs to be sustainable and without unintended consequences. Reducing plastic waste has obvious benefits, but we need to be careful not to increase food waste levels during the process,” said Paula Disberry, a retail executive at Pick n Pay.

Further innovation comes in the form of laser-etched veggies like sweet potatoes, gem squash and butternut, to reduce printing plastic labels.

Laser printed gem squash
Laser printed butternut

“Even if a small label is used on a single product, the label backing is still plastic. The laser removes the top layer of skin on hardy vegetables and etches the Pick n Pay logo, supplier code and sell-by date directly onto the individual product. This means zero plastic is used on these products,” says Disberry.

Plastic has been used in stores to keep produce fresh, protect the item, prevent dehydration and extend both the shelf and home life for the customer. 

“The impact of plastic is now front of mind for customers. We will closely monitor shopping behaviour and if this trial is successful, we can expand the initiative to more stores,” said Disberry.

The nude wall will include 12 new loose fruit and vegetables which were previously packaged: brown steak mushrooms, portabellini mushrooms, red and green chillies, cocktail tomatoes, sweet Palermo peppers, baby brinjals, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, sweet corn and baby cabbage.

Alongside them will be a garden of some 35 other loose fruits and vegetables, depending on the season.

Here are the stores participating in the ‘nude’ fruit and vegetable produce wall trial:



Faerie Glen Hyper






Hyper Durban North

Longbeach Mall


PnP on Nicol


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