Food Lover’s Markets’ commitment to reducing packaging

Food Lover’s Market embraced our responsibility to the environment since we opened our first store in 1993. From the very first moment, we committed to supplying unpackaged fresh produce to our consumers. As a result, we are one of the few retailers that has always provided our customers with an option of becoming a responsible partner in our sustainability drive.

We are currently the only retailer in South Africa that buys directly from the market floor in all parts of the country – which means we buy directly from the farmer. This is such a beautiful process to witness and we urge South Africans to visit the market to see, for themselves, the beauty of this process. The market starts buzzing from 3am as farmers deliver freshly picked produce onto the market floor. Everyone is then welcome to participate in the buying process. Our buyers form part of this buzz and the negotiation occasionally gets tough as we are always looking for the best produce at the best price for our consumers – their knowledge in this field is amazing to behold. The hard work that goes into farming the produce, that we so easily pick up from a store, is often overlooked.

The process above describes in part the process of ‘from farm to fork’. In this process, often farmers decide to package their goods – especially when it has had to travel quite a distance – to prevent the impact on food waste. Farmers with soft fruits and vegetables also package goods to bring quality to your door and to eliminate food going to waste, which is so unnecessary in the current environment with over 14 million people in South Africa being hungry on a daily basis (Food Lover’s Market is also committed to mitigating food wastage and supporting vulnerable hungry South Africans through consistent hunger awareness campaigns).

As a brand, Food Lover’s Market always makes a point of listening to our consumers, with the main aim of being a responsible retailer. For this reason, we have always been flexible about allowing customers to bring their own containers to our stores – with the exception of meat and fish as there are hygiene issues to consider with these two departments. Our colleagues are all aware of this and they accommodate a packaging-free experience in stores in every possible way they can.

The Zero Waste Community has asked us to listen to them and we certainly did! We can confirm that, in ten of our stores, we have made six products available for consumers to shop with their own packaging: Stoneground Flour, Rice, Chickpeas, Lentils, Oats and Muesli. There are also a number of stores that provide olive oil, water and milk on tap and this further allows our consumers to reduce the use of packaging in the supply chain – this further indicates that we do listen to our customer.

We are all in this fight together and currently, with no complete alternative packaging to plastic available in the current environment, our objective together is to prevent, reduce and reuse.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I bring my own container?

Yes, all our stores have committed to this and our customers are permitted to bring their own containers – except for fish and meat for hygiene reasons.

Why can’t I do the same for fish and meat?

Our first priority is to protect our customer. Uncooked meat and seafood food is a risk to the consumer. The food can become contaminated if the container being reused has not been washed properly or previously has other food in the container which might be contaminated. As a retailer, we are always responsible for food safety standards in our environment.

Why is specific fruit and veg wrapped? 

Fruit and vegetables are often wrapped to preserve the product for longer. This also allows for produce to travel a longer distance to the market where we buy most of our products. We protect soft fruits and vegetables with packaging to prevent further food waste.

Why are the nuts packed in 1 kg bags?

The nuts that are dispensed into the wall units in our stores are packaged in 1 kg bags as this is the maximum size bag we can go to.  Like any other fresh produce, when nuts come into contact with oxygen too much, the shelf-life decrease and this results in food waste and an unhappy customer. When we buy products we expect freshness – with a mouthful of satisfying crunch. We have tried before to package the nuts in bigger bags, but this does not keep the nuts fresh and we had to return to the 1kg bag.

Find locations near our stores where you can recycle below: