Morrisons is investing £19m on extending the shelf life of its fresh fruit and veg in a bid to boost the quality of its fresh produce offering and cut down on food waste.

The project, which will be completed by the end of the year, will see the retailer spend £12m on improved in-store refrigeration, such as new chilled promotional ends, in all its stores.

It will spend a further £7m on improved chilled produce facilities at sites in Bradford, Thrapston in Northamptonshire, and Gadbrook in Cheshire, including the introduction of back-up chillers.

Morrisons said fresh produce currently lost eight hours of its usable life in the home for every hour it remained unchilled in the supply chain. The investment in better refrigeration would result in longer shelf lives and ensure fruit and veg stayed fresh for longer in consumers’ homes. It would also help reduce waste along the supply chain, it added.

Tied in with the new chilling and refrigeration equipment, Morrisons is also rolling out a new system to all its stores to make it easier for staff to identify products that need to remain chilled. It declined to detail precisely how the new system would work, citing commercial sensitivity.

“Our aim here is to ensure fruit and veg lasts longer for our customers,” said a spokeswoman.

In addition, Morrisons has introduced ‘produce quality bins’ in all its stores – “if customers think a product isn’t good quality, they can put it in the bin,” the spokeswoman said.

The £19m investment follows the retailer’s recently announced Making Produce Shine initiative, which saw more than 500 fresh produce managers enrolled in training sessions.

Director of produce and strategy Andrew Garton said the sessions would ensure Market Street staff were “fit for tomorrow.”