Jamie and Jimmy are on a mission to get wonky fruit and veg back in our shopping baskets - and they’ve done a good job of it already.
In the last series of their Channel 4 TV show, Friday Night Feast, we saw the boys approach UK supermarket chain Asda to trial the launch of what will now be a new Beautiful on the Inside range. Since January 2015, the supermarket has sold ugly produce at a 30% discount, alongside the more expensive, regular veg we’re used to.
But why do we want crooked carrots and knobbly potatoes on our shelves anyway? Well, a staggering 20-40% of fruit and veg produced by UK farmers ends up wasted; either left for animal feed, ploughed back into the land or sent to landfill, because supermarkets don’t want them. In an exposé of what Jamie deems the “tip of the iceberg” of wasted wonky veg, the TV series sees Jamie and Jimmy visiting a Norfolk farm, where up to 10 tonnes of misshapen veg are rejected on a weekly basis. The reason? Because they look ugly.
Supermarkets have tried to justify the waste by saying consumers won’t buy it. For years we’ve been used to seeing fruit and veg of a standard shape, size and colour. You compare a blemish-free carrot with its crooked friend, and which are you more likely to choose?
The good news is it might be the latter. Sold at a discounted price, the idea of buying fruit and veg that taste just as good as their better-looking peers doesn’t seem like such a bad offer. According to Asda’s consumer research, 65% of customers are open to buying wonky fruit and veg, while 75% are more likely to buy them if they’re sold at a cheaper price. So wonky veg might not get thrown away, and farmers won’t be forced to over-produce to make sure they meet their targets.
As Jimmy says: “When half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks, this waste isn’t just bonkers – it’s bordering on criminal.”
It’s time that we change our mindset when it comes to the fruit and veg we buy. Good marketing campaigns that work to make ugly produce the norm, as well as bring all types of veg – blemishes and all – to our supermarkets, are the best way to ensure that happens.