/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Would you buy ‘wonky’ supermarket fruit ‘n’ veg?

Four big UK supermarkets have pledged to relax rules on misshapen fruit and vegetables, after demands from farmers suffering from bad weather. Should supermarkets stick to stocking ‘wonky’ fruit ‘n’ veg?

In a Conversation last year, Hannah Jolliffe brought up the issue of supermarkets refusing to stock fruit and vegetables that are misshapen or blemished. She even launched a ‘wonky challenge‘ to get you to buy into misshapen produce.

It’s something I feel strongly about, so I was interested to see the issue reappear this year. It seems Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose have been persuaded by the National Farmers Union to relax their strict cosmetic standards on fruit and veg, because the dull, wet summer has made growing produce so difficult for farmers.

Waste not, want not

Feeding the 5,000, an organisation which campaigns against food waste, says that:

‘An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops – mostly because they do not match the supermarkets’ excessively strict cosmetic standards.’

The original ban on ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables was introduced by the EU, but it was lifted for most misshapen produce in 2009 after an outcry about the amount of food being wasted.

Since that date any squeamishness about less-than-perfect produce has been enforced by the supermarkets. However, supermarkets argue that they can’t sell such ‘wonky’ fruit and veg to shoppers because they’re suspicious that they’re getting sub-standard food. And there may well be some truth in this…

Mother knows best

Like most children I’m sure, I was reminded regularly when I was little that there were others starving in the world, so I shouldn’t turn up my nose to the food on my plate! But aren’t we all doing that if we refuse to buy produce just because it isn’t perfectly shaped?

It seems silly enough to me that people are so often judged on how they look, without extending that silliness to fruit ‘n’ veg that we’re going to chop, slice, roast, boil or puree into something unrecognisable anyway.

Also, as someone who grows some very irregular fruit and vegetables on an allotment, I can guarantee that shape, good or bad, has no bearing on flavour. And freshness, which is important, can’t possibly be assessed by appearance alone, whatever we might like to believe.

I’ll be on the look-out for the imperfect fruit ‘n’ veg that will keep my family fed and help to keep our farmers in business when I’m next in the supermarket, but what about you?

Do you trawl through the boxes trying to find the most handsome baking potato? Do you refuse to buy a carrot with an extra leg, or an apple with a bump? Or are there more of us who really don’t mind knobbly parsnips than the supermarkets realise?

I think it would be good to support the farmers, reduce waste, and persuade the supermarkets that, even when the weather is good, deformed veg isn’t the end of the world.

Would you buy misshapen/blemished fruit 'n' veg from supermarkets?

Yes - how fruit 'n' veg looks has no bearing on taste (65%, 162 Votes)

Maybe - only if there was a discount on such fruit 'n' veg (27%, 67 Votes)

No - I like my fruit 'n' veg to look close to perfect (9%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 256

Loading ... Loading ...
Comments
Member

Few people are likely to buy wonky fruit ‘n’ veg by preference. In a supermarket, the wonky items are likely to be handled and rejected many times. If separated and sold at a lower price, it could be a success.

Wonky items can be used for processed food, and no-one will be any the wiser. I would not be surprised if mashed potato and strawberry jam, for example, are already make from cosmetic rejects.

Member

Wavechange, they do this in Morrison’s, to the ones I’ve been to anyway. They are bagged up and sold on a sorry looking shelf in the dark corner of the veg area. The price isn’t give-away buy its quite a bit cheaper than the norm. Usually it’s for smaller than normal or blemished items.

Member

Thanks, mose. Unfortunately, the only supermarket nearby is Tesco, which does not do this. 🙁

Member

There should be a reduction in price
to reflect this fact.

Member

So, if there was a discount, you’d buy wonky veg over perfectly shaped veg?

Member

I would. I have eaten plenty, grown by my father and friends.

Member

I’ve just added a poll to reflect this. Thanks

Member

If I was a perfect specimen myself I would never buy odd shaped fruit and veg – it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I wish the supermarkets would include some more interesting examples in their boring heaps of uniform produce. We support the farmers’ market and often choose the more unusual shapes. I also quite like the look of oversized and eccentric eggs; I appreciate the effort that has gone into laying them.

Member

I vaguely remember Sainsbury’s doing a promotion on their basics range along the lines of ‘These potatoes arern’t pretty, but still delicious in your mash…’ etc. I think supermarkets should be doing more to promote wonky fruit and veg particularly in their value ranges because they don’t make a blind bit of difference to the taste and tend to save you a bit of money as well.

Whenever I take my little nieces and nephews shopping with me they love finding funny shaped fruit and vegeta