Why ugly fruit needs a little love

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For those who lived through wartime rationing the profligate habits of society today must make difficult reading.

Exclusive: £1bn - the cost of food we buy to throw away

The Real Junk Food Project  director Edd Colbert, with some of the donated food

The Real Junk Food Project director Edd Colbert, with some of the donated food

Recipes: Don’t throw away those leftovers

Although the nation has gone through difficult times recently we are generally much better off today, but it seems many families are simply buying too much.

Shopping habits have changed with many consumers choosing to do large shops in supermarkets rather then pop to the 
local greengrocer for a few apples.

Once inside the giant superstores they are met with an array of buy-one-get-one-free offers, pristine fruit and veg, bags of salad leaves and aisles of bakery products to tempt even the most strong-willed but evidence shows we are not using what we buy.

The foods we waste the most include fresh vegetables and salad, fresh fruit, and bakery items such as bread and cakes.

It is estimated we currently waste 13 billion five-a-day portions each year with apples and oranges top of the list of foods bought but not eaten, while one banana in ten goes to waste.

Making a few adjustments such as people checking cupboards to see what they need before they go shopping, to sticking to a list in the supermarket, to freezing leftovers or planning meals can all help reduce the problem, campaigners say.

Emma Marsh, head of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, said: “We want to be able to get people to look at the huge volume of food and drink that’s ending up in the bin and consider the one thing they might do differently to make sure that food gets tasted, not wasted.” But Anna Simpson, environment policy adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said retailers must also play their part.

She said: “The majority of food is wasted at either the consumer end or the purchaser end, not wasted at the supermarket end. But it’s the decisions that the supermarkets make that have a massive impact upon the food chain.

“The industry needs to be more integrated across the supply chain.

“The emphasis needs to be on the impact retail decisions have on the rest of the supply chain. For example, in order to improve wastage, in-store promotions need to be appropriate. It would also be good to see retailers working closely with their suppliers to reduce waste, through ordering systems and forecasting.”

She said the NFU was also concerned retailers were rejecting “ugly” or misshapen fruit and vegetables.

Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s said they sold “ugly” fruit and veg in their ranges. A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said because it had three own-label ranges: “Basics”, “By Sainsbury’s” and “Taste the Difference” it could use fruit and veg efficiently and give customers choice about the standard of product. Mis-shaped fruit and veg was also used in prepared salads, ready meals and bakery fillings.

Tesco said was also focusing on the supply chain. It said 20 per cent of grape production was wasted at various points in the value chain. To help reduce this it was shortening the supply chain and guaranteeing suppliers it would buy at least 80 per cent of grapes.

Retailers are also looking at reducing packaging waste and are putting tips about storing fresh products on packets. Some have reviewed buy-one-get-one free offers on perishable goods.

Recipes: Don’t throw away those leftovers