Tesco to sell misshapen and ugly veg and fruit on special offer
Tesco: ugly and misshapen fruit and veg will go on special offer
Wonky carrots and blemished apples thown away by supermarkets will be put on special offer as Tesco plans to ‘educate’ public that it is good food
By Steven Swinford, Senior Political Correspondent3:37PM GMT 10 Dec 2013Follow CommentsComments
Misshapen fruit and vegetables which are thrown away by supermarkets will be put on special offer and the public need to be “educated” that it is good food, Tesco has said.
Matt Simister, the group food sourcing director at Tesco, said that British customers “always pick the cream of the crop” when they shop leaving “old, ugly and misshapen” produce to go to waste.
He said that the supermarket is exploring opportunities to put more products like wonky carrots and imperfect apples on offer to encourage people to buy them.
He compared the preference of British shoppers produce which is “cosmetically” better to those in Eastern Europe, who are more prepared to buy misshapen produce.
It comes after Tesco admitted earlier this year that up to two thirds of its food ends up in the bin, including 68 per cent of bagged salads, 48 per cent of bakery goods and 24 per cent of grapes.
Two in five apples and a fifth of bananas are never eaten. The supermarket has scrapped confusing “display until” dates on fresh fruit and vegetables, and ended buy one get one free offers on salads.
But Mr Simister told the House of Lords EU sub-committee on agriculture that the supermarket wants to do more.
EU rules on misshapen fruit and veg were relaxed in 2009 but supermarkets still maintain private product standards.
Mr Simister said: “They [the standards] are there because that’s what customers tell us they want in their perishable produce. Customers naturally select, they always pick the cream of crop first and the rest of it then gets left.
“Then the new deliveries come in and you have the new cream of the crop – the old, ugly misshapen goes to waste. Customers will always make the choice of the one that cosmetically looks better. That’s a very difficult reality to us.”
He added: “We can put more misshapen products through our value range at better prices, we’ve been doing that for years. There are opportunities to do more.
“It’s less easy to be flexible with the standard ranges, but we can be more flexible with the product that flushes through the stores at a good price for customers.”
He said that at present the supermarket sends the bulk its misshapen produce to its supermarkets in Eastern Europe, where people are facing even tougher living standards and want to pay less.
Asked whether the supermarket has a role in “educating” the public that misshapen produce is “perfectly good food”, Mr Simister said: “We do have to role to educate people. It’s weak to just do what customers think. Our role is to [help them] to make the right choices.”
Small marks on the skin of fruits do not affect their flavour, but supermarkets will often reject blemished produce.
Apples with an occasional blemish or slight russetting, that makes them too red for the supermarkets, are often rejected.
Other fruits are also dumped for having small marks, despite the fact it does not affect the flavour. Vegetables have to meet certain size standards but again will taste exactly the same.
Even though EU rules have been relaxed, farmers have complained that they are are routinely forced to throw away up to 40 per cent of a crop because it does not meet “cosmetic standards”.