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Visual Thinking's carrier bag challenge

Shoppers at discount supermarket Aldi are getting more ‘bag for their buck’ this Christmas after its 5p plastic carriers were revealed to be the best value when it comes to taking home those all-important Brussels sprouts. Retail consultancy Visual Thinking tested bags from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Aldi in a series of tests to find out which was best for the big festive food shop this week.

Each underwent three festive fun tests, which included finding out which bag could hold the most sprouts. Aldi’s bags proved to be the winner with 649 sprouts, followed by Sainsbury’s (584), Marks and Spencer (524) and Waitrose (488). Trailing behind was Tesco’s bag, which held 421 and Asda’s with 397.


With the 5p charge coming into force at the start of the year, the idea behind the test was to highlight the inconsistencies between bags from many of the major grocery retailers.

After the sprouts it was time for dessert so the team filled the bags with brandy custard to find out which one is least likely to leak on the journey back. Aldi once again performed well, taking the top position alongside Sainsbury’s. Despite being filled with liquid, neither of the bags leaked, unlike all of the others. Worst on the list was the Tesco bag, which developed 32 holes and suffered major leakage.  

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As if that wasn't enough, the bags were then given to the Visual Thinking dogs Ralf and Nixon who tested the bags to destruction as they got their teeth into them for a tug of war. This time, the Sainsbury’s bag came first just ahead of Aldi, while the Asda bag came out bottom, succumbing to Ralf and Nixon in the fastest time.

'The team had great fun putting the plastic bags through their paces, however there is a more serious message behind it,' says Karl McKeever, founder and managing director of Visual Thinking. 'This week, most people will be doing their Christmas shopping so it will be interesting to see whether the bags are up to the job. Despite the charge, people are still willing to pay for them but our tests have shown there is a real variation in quality – whether it be their strength, durability or how much they can hold.

'Poor quality carrier bags are likely to cause frustration among shoppers at a time when they are most stressed because of long queues or lack of product availability. This will only be compounded if the carrier breaks on the way home.

'These discrepancies should be a call to retailers, wherever they sit in the market, to ensure their bags are the best they can be.

'It is interesting to note that Aldi did so well and this is possibly because it has always charged for bags even before the new law came in. As a discounter, it also knows that customers often want to buy in bulk so they want something that is strong.'

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An Aldi UK spokesperson commented: 'We’re delighted that our 5p carrier bag has proven itself the winner of the Brussels sprouts and custard test; this is a testament to the quality across our range this Christmas.

'Aldi shoppers can rest assured that they are getting more ‘bag for their buck’ with us and that their Christmas feast, from Exquisite turkeys and Brussels sprouts to brandy sauce and Christmas puddings, will make it back safely this year - ready to enjoy with their families.'


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