UK supermarket chain Asda is adding sweet potatoes and garlic to its ‘wonky’ fruit and veg range and selling the range in more stores.
The grocer said in a press release that the move is part of its ongoing efforts to cut food waste across the supply chain and to help farmers.
“Labelled Beautiful on the Inside, the wonky veg range currently includes crooked carrots, knobbly pears, bumpy apples and citrus fruits, all sold at reduced rates in their own dedicated in-store fixture. There will be different sizes of wonky garlic, and it will be a bit scruffier, but the garlic inside is still the same. Our wonky sweet potatoes will be all kinds of strange shapes – and by selling these, we’ll save 10% of the crop from being wasted. We’re planning to increase the range even further in 2016, so watch this space,” Asda said.
The wonky veg trial began at the start of this year in 5 stores – Grantham, Coventry, Dagenham, Bedminster (Bristol) and Wallington (Croydon). “It proved so popular that we’ve added it to more stores and the range is now sold in 25 stores,” Asda said.
Asda’s produce technical director Ian Harrison said the range has proved a hit and has also enabled Asda to flex its specifications across a wide variety of its standard produce lines.
“For example, we’re taking 340 more tonnes of standard and organic carrots which would previously have been out of spec. We’ve also relaxed specifications on other produce like green beans, chillies and standard sweet potatoes which has put a further 300 tonnes of produce onto our shelves, which is good news for farmers.
“We have more work to do and we’re committed to working with our growers to ensure we utilise more of their crops whether that’s in Wonky or in our standard ranges,” Harrison said.
How to increase consumer acceptance of imperfect fruit and vegetables is being examined as part of a European Commission behavioural study on food choices and eating habits.
The research, taking place in the context of part the Milan Expo 2015, is titled “A behavioural study on food choices and eating habits” and its publication expected by the end of this year, according to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions.
It mentioned the research in its response to a petition on offering second-class fruit and vegetables in supermarkets. The petitioner, Germany’s Maxie Schlemmer-Schmidbauer, advocated the introduction of rules allowing fruit and vegetables which don’t meet the required standards to be sold in greengrocer’s shops and supermarkets, to prevent them from being destroyed.
Asked to respond, the Commission told the committee that while specific marketing standards remain in place for 10 types of fruit and vegetables, national authorities can permit the sale of all fruit and vegetables, regardless of their size and shape. “Member States can allow shops to sell products that do not respect the standards as long as they are labelled appropriately so that consumers can differentiate them from those categories defined by marketing standards (e.g.: ‘extra’, ‘class I’ and ‘class II’ fruit),” it said.
In its conclusion, the committee said current EU rules permit Member States to allow the marketing of misshapen fruits and vegetables provided that their presentation is not misleading for consumers. ”In co-operation with Member States and stakeholders, the Commission aims to promote good practices to prevent food waste including social innovation to facilitate use of misshapen fruit and vegetables in the food supply chain and by consumers,” it said.
Image by Taz [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons