Asda halts refill trials amid “commercial challenges”

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Asda has scrapped trials of food-refill zones after finding the concept was “too challenging to scale and operate”.

The supermarket giant first offered certain products loose for customers to package at a flagship sustainability store in Leeds in 2020.

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A year later, the trial was expanded to include more food items and mainstream outlets in Rugby, Milton Keynes, York and Glasgow as part of a plan to remove 3 billion pieces of plastic from its shelves by 2025.

However, in a report this month, the supermarket said the it had learned much about “the complexities of scaling refillable packaging”.

“We have experienced operational issues and commercial challenges with our existing approach,” it added. “Our research showed that the key barriers, which included cost, convenience, cleanliness, and perceived product quality, have prevented customers from engaging with the refill proposition.”

Despite fresh measures last year including targeted social media adverts, in-store signage and “updated digital assets”, customer uptake remained low, Asda explained.

“Refill, in its current format, remains too challenging for our business to scale and operate,” said the report. “We are exiting the refill trials in our four existing stores.

“Moving forwards, we intend to deliver new, scalable refill and prefill trials that build on our learnings and improve customer uptake, operational feasibility and commercial viability.”