Food waste: misshapen fruits and vegetables

In UK alone, 24 million slices of bread are thrown away every single day along with 5.9 million glasses of milk and 5.8 million potatoes.

According to Love Food, Hate Waste, we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink each year from our homes and the majority of that food is perfectly edible. The average family bins the equivalent of a meal a day and wastes around £60 per month on food that never makes it to the plate.


However it’s not all doom and gloom. With a few simple changes, you can drastically cut the amount of food that ends up in the bin. By planning your meals ahead, creating a shopping list for the supermarket and ending reliance upon sell by dates that tasty, edible food can find its way to your stomach rather than the rubbish. The Love Food Hate Waste website is full of useful information including meal guides and portion planners.

Food is lost at many different stages throughout the supply chain in production, handling and storage, packaging, transporting the goods, retail and finally with the consumer.  Annually, 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfill from the UK and figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate that globally, one third of food produced for our consumption never gets eaten; that’s 1.3 billion tonnes per year.

Food waste occurs for numerous reasons which include overproduction to ensure farmer’s contracts, faulty handling of goods and not meeting required aesthetic guidelines. That’s right, curvy cucumbers and bumpy tomatoes get binned before they reach the shelves not because of their quality or taste, but because of the way that they look.


The environmental and social impact of food waste is huge. We waste edible food when people throughout the world live in food poverty and demand for food is continuing to rise. This is turn pushes up the price of staple food crops. Environmentally, resources are used at all stages of the supply chain and greenhouse gas emissions from food production are going up. Emissions from the agricultural sector currently account for about 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. Cutting food waste would be equivalent to taking one in every four cars off the road in the UK.

Since 2007, household food waste has been cut by 21% saving consumers £13 billion over the five year period. This is positive but there is still a long way to go and it’s where initiatives such as the ugly fruit and veg campaign come in.

The Beautiful on the Inside campaign announced by Jamie Oliver earlier this month is an initiative being trialed in five Asda supermarkets across the UK, starting at the end of January 2015. The stores will sell ‘wonky’ fruits and vegetables at a 30% discount.

A similar initiative was carried out by French supermarket chain Intermarché who ran a highly successful campaign with wonderful ads to match; take a look at them here and here. Their ‘failed lemon’, ‘ugly carrot’ and ‘ridiculous potato’ formed part of the range named the ‘Inglorious’ fruits and vegetables which were sold at a 30% discount. Traffic to the participating supermarkets increased by 24% and the wonky produce sold out within two days.

There’s more positive news… In a poll conducted for Jamie Oliver’s campaign, 65% of consumers stated that they would buy misshapen fruits and vegetables, especially if they were sold at a discount. Lifting the aesthetic restrictions on our fruits and vegetables could cut food waste dramatically. The soil association currently estimates that between 20 and 40% of fresh produce never makes it to the shelves because of how it looks.

After all, a carrot is a carrot and when it’s chopped/grated/mashed/blended, you’ll never know that it had an extra bump.


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