Marks & Spencer has jumped on the organic veg box bandwagon nearly eight months after Tesco, Sainsbury's and Ocado launched schemes.
The first boxes went into 400 Marks & Spencer stores across the UK over a week ago. The store is offering a large mixed box of 14 items for £20 and a smaller veg-only box of eight items for £12.
Shoppers can call to order a box or place an order at the customer service desk of participating stores but there is no delivery service. The box is ready for collection in-store within five days.
M&S said the scheme was a trial to gauge the level of demand. "This provides customers with a chance to buy organic fruit and veg in one go, especially in smaller stores where we don't have a complete range on the shelves," said a spokesman.
None of the fruit is separately wrapped to cut down on packaging, and the boxes are made from 100% recyclable board from Forest Stewardship Council- approved sources.
Each box contains recipe ideas, details of product origin and an invitation for customer feedback. "This is part of M&S's £200m launch to triple organic sales in the next five years. We now have 50% more organic lines than this time last year and sales are 50% up on last year.
"Later this month we will be launching our first organic food-to-go with a complete organic ready-to-eat lunchtime range."
Meanwhile, Tesco has decided to extend its own scheme to five stores in Cambridgeshire after its Croydon pilot received more than 600 orders a week. Ocado has also reported a good start to its box scheme, with sales exceeding expectations.
Sainsbury's however has no firm plans to extend its offer beyond 20 stores in the East Midlands and East Anglia though it rejected rumours it was suspending the service.