M&S extends 'Fill Your Own' trial after shopper support

Marks & Spencer is to extend its Fill Your Own Trial – which lets customers bring in their own reusable containers for certain products – after it conducted research that shows 75% of consumers are consciously attempting to reduce their use of plastic packaging.

The research, by M&S Food, found two thirds of shoppers are more likely to consider using their own containers in this way, compared to this time last year. Nearly a quarter (23%) are actively seeking retailers that offer a Fill Your Own service.

Shoppers told M&S that the chief barrier to buying loose products in reusable packaging was finding a retailer that offered the service, with 38% citing that problem. One in five found it difficult to carry containers, and 14% felt unpackaged products seemed to be more expensive than conventionally-packaged alternatives.

M&S launched its first Fill Your Own trial last year at its Hedge End Retail Park store in Southampton. The scheme allows shoppers to buy 44 products lines of cupboard essentials in a 'packaging-free' format, including popular ranges of cereals, pasta, rice, lentils, confectionery, coffee, and dried fruit and nuts. It claims that all ranges offer better value-per-gram than those which are packaged.

The retailer is also providing free, widely recycled paper bags for shoppers without containers, and staff are available to help shoppers with filling and weighing tasks. According to the company, sales of M&S reusable containers have increased by 38% at the store since the trial launched, and by 10% across all M&S stores.

In addition, sales of 25 of the 44 products available without packaging are selling in higher volumes than the packaged alternatives. Top sellers include Whole Scottish Porridge Oats, and Tripe Chocolate Crunch cereal.

“Our Fill Your Own concept is one area we're focusing on as part of our action to reduce plastic packaging and support our customers to reuse and better understand refill across the entire store process from behind the scenes operations to working together with our customers to encourage behaviour change,” said M&S director of food technology Paul Willgloss.

The Fill Your Own trial willl continue in Southampton and be extended to a store in Manchester City Centre.

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