Sainsbury's new chicken packaging

Source: Sainsbury’s

The retailer said the packaging would use a minimum of 50% less plastic and save 140 tonnes of plastic

Sainsbury’s has removed single-use plastic trays from its by Sainsbury’s whole chicken range.

The retailer said the new packaging would use a minimum of 50% less plastic, with the expectation the change would save 140 tonnes of plastic per year.

The switch – the latest of several plastic reduction policies announced by the retailer over the past year – follows an increasingly controversial move to trayless mince packaging by the retailer in February, which has driven a shopper backlash in recent weeks. 

Sainsbury’s said the move to vacuum packaged mince would save 450 tonnes of plastic annually.

But it has provoked the ire of its customers, with many taking to social media to complain about the impact the change has had on the consistency of the product.

One twitter user said the meat looked “gross” in its new vaccum packaging, while another asked “why have you replaced your perfectly fine beef mince with a beef mush alternative?” 

Many also said they would be taking their custom elsewhere unless Sainsbury’s ditched the packaging – which claims the product boasts the “same quality” but with 55% less plastic.

In response, the retailer has now resorted to handing out leaflets to update customers on the change in packaging.

“Customer feedback is important to us,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman. “We are always looking for new ways to innovate packaging to meet our ambitious plastic reduction targets.”

The supermarket said the packaging reduction on its chicken products included all by Sainsbury’s whole chickens, ranging from extra small to extra-large sizes, with the products available in all its stores across the UK and online.

The film packaging can also be recycled at one of Sainsbury’s front-of-store flexible plastics recycling points, available in all its UK supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s has also removed single-use plastic lids from its own label dip pots, including guacamole, tzatziki and sour cream and chive over the past month.

It comes as the the supermarket also boosted its animal welfare across its poultry supply chain by moving to a lower stocking density to ensure its chickens now have 20% more space than the Red Tractor UK industry standard.

Sainsbury’s poultry suppliers have also introduced more enrichment bales, pecking objects and platforms for perching to improve chicken behaviour.