UK: Tesco launch new prepared lines as part of fruit and veg aisle makeover

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15 Aug 2017 --- The freshly prepared range of food positioned in the fresh fruit and vegetable aisles of UK Tesco stores is growing to include popular carbohydrate substitutes and vegetable-based meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As part of the retailer’s commitment to clamping down on food waste in its stores and supply chain, Tesco is revamping the fresh produce aisles – traditionally a place where shoppers purely bought their fruit and vegetables.

But now major changes in the produce area are having a profound effect on not only shopping habits but also the move to reduce food waste, according to the supermarket, as well as making it easier and quicker for people to shop.  

Instead of offering just fruit and vegetables, Tesco's fruit & vegetable aisles now offer shoppers more than 400 fresh, healthy ready meals, snacks and side dishes following a two year period of high demand for prepared food from Tesco customers which have grown 10 percent, the equivalent of an extra 1.5 million items.

Tesco says the popularity of freshly prepared meals is having a knock-on effect towards grower suppliers and the environment because many of these types of dishes and snacks allow growers and producers to utilize all of their crops, such as cauliflower, carrots, swedes, broccoli and butternut, leading to less food waste.

For instance, cauliflowers considered too small to sell on their own are now being used to make cauliflower couscous – a healthier replacement for carbs – among other prepared veg dishes. While wonky-shaped carrots are also being used to make carrot spaghetti, another healthier alternative to carbs.

“These tempting new fresh fruit and veg foods are not only offering shoppers a far wider choice of healthy, nutritious meals, but are also helping tackle food waste through greater crop utilization. For growing numbers of shoppers the fruit and veg aisle is now the first destination they will head to, to find innovative and delicious new meals if they are pressed for time and looking for fresh food they can cook quickly,” says Tesco prepared produce buyer Elizabeth Hall.

“Until about five years ago, the main prepared fruit and veg items were stir fry mixes, sides like roasting trays of vegetables, and fruit snack packs.”

“These have been so popular that we began to expand the range in order to further help customers who are short on time but still want to experience the joy of cooking fresh food.”

Demand at Tesco has particularly rocketed over the last two years with spiralized vegetables such as zucchini or carrot spaghetti increasing by 40 percent.

Edamame bean salads growing by more than 100 percent, while organic prepared salads are up by nearly 90 percent.

Healthy fruit snacks such as melon and mango “fingers” are also up 400 per cent and on account of their growing popularity, Tesco is about to extend its range of prepared vegetable, fruit and salad dishes.

Among the new lines about to be launched are the UK’s first ever mushroom burgers as well as beetroot burgers; potato wedges with katsu dip and crunchy quinoa; and fajita mix with peppers and onions.

“It’s not only time-pressed shoppers that we are catering for with these new fresh ready meals and snacks. Healthy foods such as butternut fusilli and butternut lasagna sheets are meeting the needs of customers wanting to cut down on carbs and look after themselves through simple alternatives,” adds Hall. 

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