It’s a big ask for a major retail player to become plastic-free – but that’s just what the British chain Iceland has pledged to do. In what would be a global claim to fame, Iceland promised earlier this month to be the first major supermarket ever to get rid of all plastic packaging on its own-brand products by 2023.
That’s quite the New Year’s resolution.
The first phase has already begun with the impending launch of two new ranges: Mumbai Street Co, showcasing Indian street-food, and the Hungry Heroes microwavable meals for children.
The two lines, which will be available from February 19, will appear in paper-based trays that are 100% recyclable through either domestic waste collection or in-store recycling.
From India to Iceland
Mumbai Street Co are becoming part of the family largely due to the rising popularity of street eats, which currently boast an annual revenue of over £600m. In fact, Iceland seems like it’s stealing a march on Waitrose, which predicted that one of the top trends for 2018 would be – drum roll please – Indian street food!
“Mumbai Street Co was informed directly by Britain’s changing eating habits and we are the first retailer to launch an Indian street-food range,” said Iceland head chef Neil Nugent. “This is high-quality, well-researched food, all wrapped in sustainable packaging.”
A whopping 16 options make up the Mumbai Street Co, such as the Keralan pulled chicken made with creamy coconut sauce, red peppers and spinach, and the Calcutta kale bhaji, a spin on the traditional fritter-like snack that’s made with spiced gram flour and everyone’s favourite nutritional plant. All are priced at £1.50 each, including the lamb shashlik – a kebab-style dish that Waitrose already offers with chicken but has labelled simply as 'Indian' rather than vibing off the 'street food' movement.
Hungry Heroes was created in collaboration with Channel Mum, an online parenting community who established that the need for a healthy ready meal with added veg was the most important factor for a new range. Comprised of 13 different meals, the options include macaroni cheese and spaghetti bolognaise (both £1.59).
A freeze on packaging waste
Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, has said that the new products are just the start of a painstaking process which will see Iceland succeed in its pledge to become the first to steer clear of polluting packaging entirely.
“We’ve been working on our plastic-free pledge for the last 18 months and wanted to quickly demonstrate our commitment to it. The launch of these latest ranges in new recyclable board trays is just the start of Iceland’s journey to becoming plastics-free,” Walker said.
“The ranges have been carefully developed so that shoppers can now enjoy fantastic quality food at great prices, without future generations having to pay for their dinner.”
Food wrappings make up a large part of the 170m tonnes of waste produced by the UK alone each year. Supermarkets are under constant pressure to do their bit, with several getting on board with the green agenda. Tesco has promised to become fully recyclable and compostable by 2025, with all paper and cardboard to be sustainable. Co-Op, meanwhile, replaced the polystyrene in its pizza packaging to avoid the 200 tonnes that end up in landfills every year. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s both attacked their egg ranges to make them more recyclable too.
Iceland’s move clearly aims to trump the competition in the game for consumer hearts.
The power of frozen
Not only do they mark the start of the big anti-plastic push, the new ranges are being positioned as two of Iceland’s biggest own-brand launches to date, with both Mumbai Street Co and Hungry Heroes to be landmarks for the supermarket.
The latter is the beginning of a partnership with Alder Hey Children’s Charity: 5p of every pack of Hungry Heroes sold will go to the cause.
Our biggest question, though, is how close does Iceland’s version of Indian street food get to the real thing? Better get those samples in, Sparkie!