The plead to not throw away imperfect fruits and vegetables for cosmetic reasons has been going on for many years now. But the need of it is now with soaring food prices and food shortages. In 2014, the supermarket chain from France, Intermarché had launched a campaign to make people aware of this important aspect related to fresh produce.

Imperfect fruits and vegetables and their wastage

People do not like to purchase malformed fruits and vegetables. Hence, the retailers have laid down a few criteria for the type of fresh produce they will purchase from the growers. Marketing orders include exact size, diameter, consistency, and color of these fruits and vegetables. These would make A grade produce while the rest would sell at lower prices (Unfortunately, ripeness level and taste are not in these deciding standards). Farmers would fetch lesser profit from ugly fruits and vegetables. Hence many growers discard them even before they reach the shop shelves.

Ugly fruits and vegetables
Ugly fruits and vegetables (Source: Daily Mail UK)

The Natural Resources Defense Council had developed a report that showed that 52% of these fresh produce are chucked into the dustbin in the USA. And a significant part of this food waste is before these fruits and veggies leave the field.

But these ugly fruits and vegetables are nutritious and edible. They can feed hungry mouths and overcome food shortages and food insecurity. The industrialized food system in the world consists of few large buyers and many suppliers. And the large buyers dictate the terms and conditions and the growers suffer. It leads to unnecessary food wastage. Because harvesting costs money. And if the sales fetch less price due to cosmetic issues with the produce, the growers prefers to not harvest them.

French supermarket chain Intermarché

Dana Gunders who is a food waste expert at the NRDC states that the standards for quality of fresh produce are ridiculous and funnily high. California organic farmer David Mas Masumoto had once told The Sacramento Bee:

If we picked our friends the way we selectively picked and culled our produce, we’d be very lonely.”

Dana strongly believes that American shoppers are far more ready to buy ugly fruits and vegetables than what the supermarket managers think. With awareness, this percentage can be improved.

This was the aim of the campaign that the French supermarket chain Intermarché initiated in 2014. They state that people would first go for the good looking produce. But seeing the discount on malformed fruits and vegetables, they would reach for them. And if they are sold with a simple message, more people would reach for them first. Dana felt that proper marketing to sell the malformed produce would be effective:

Marketing got us into this corner where we’re wasting nearly half of our food, so marketing could get us back out of it.”

The Intermarché promotional video has stated:

“Now, you can eat five ‘inglorious’ fruits and vegetables a day. As good, but 30 percent cheaper,”

The results of the campaign

The Intermarché video was well-shared on the social media platforms. This meant people are keen for knowing about the ugly but nutritious and delicious fresh produce. Also, in the first two days of the campaign, all the malformed produce was sold out. There was 24% rise in traffic in the participating stores of the company.

Also, read Healthier cookies: addition of this food waste can enhance their nutrition!

Intermarché supermarket chain (Source: Pinterest)

They also started a line of soups and juices made from the ugly fruits and vegetables. They wanted to show that these taste as good as those made from beautiful fruits and veggies.

There should be more of such campaigns from supermarkets chains worldwide so that food wastage is reduced and nutritious, edible, and tasty ugly fruits and vegetables are not thrown away unnecessarily.