Packaging for a high-end joint of beef which could see supermarket Sainsbury’s prosecuted for being “excessive” has been dubbed “excellent” by a packaging industry expert.
Jane Bickerstaffe, director of the Industry Council for Packaging & the Environment (INCPEN), told MRW that the report that Sainsbury’s may face legal action for over-packaging its Taste the Difference beef joint is “silly”.
The news, which has been covered by several national papers, comes after Lincolnshire County Council’s trading standards department started legal proceedings following a complaint from a shopper about the amount of packaging used on the beef joint, which includes a vacuum-packed plastic layer, a plastic tray with plastic lid and a cardboard sleeve.
A statement issued by Sainsbury’s said: “The packaging of the product in question has now been reduced by 53%, and is set to be reduced by at least another 10% within the next few months.
“As such, we were surprised by the comments made by Lincolnshire County Council, which do not reflect the positive outcome of our meeting with Lincolnshire’s packaging team. In fact, we have been informed that the council, in light of that meeting, is currently looking again at whether it will proceed.”
Bickerstaffe explained that packaging is necessary to protect products, and something like beef, which is one of the most carbon-intensive foods, needs to be carefully packaged for this reason.
She said: “This is a piece of beef costing almost £12, so customers who are spending that much money are going to want it to be protected. There is huge carbon value in beef so it necessary to protect it properly.
“I think it is an excellent piece of packaging, and it is a shame that the national press has jumped on this story without thinking properly about why a product like this might need to be packaged in such a way.
“All supermarkets, Sainsbury’s included, have worked tremendously hard to reduce their packaging in recent years and they should be recognised for that.”
This view is echoed by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which said: “Sainsbury’s is one of dozens of companies, including all the major UK supermarkets, committed to reducing waste through their involvement with our Courtauld Commitment.
“The grocery retail sector has made great progress in reducing food and packaging waste and it continues to do so through the second phase of Courtauld.”
Lincolnshire council head of trading standards Peter Heafield said: “Lincolnshire County Council is working closely with Sainsbury’s to resolve the issue, as we evaluate information on the nature and timescales regarding their packaging reductions, which we received from Sainsbury’s this afternoon. At this stage, the matter is therefore still before the courts.”