Waitrose unveils misshapen tomatoes in bid to cut food waste

Waitrose has announced that it has started to sell a range of misshapen tomatoes in an attempt to cut down on food waste.

Waitrose's new pack of mixed tomatoes

Waitrose's new pack of mixed tomatoes

The supermarket stated that its new 1kg pack of mixed fruits is made up of a selection of round, cherry and baby plum tomatoes which have either naturally fallen off the vine or are misshapen. It is stocking them as part of its drive to discard fewer edible foods.

Waitrose also announced that it will sell "weather-blemished" apples with "damaged skins" alongside its misshapen strawberries and plums in a bid to tackle food waste.

Most of the apples come from parts of South Africa's Western Cape where recent torrential downpours, hailstorms and flooding left some individual farms dealing with crop losses as high as 28%.

Britain's supermarkets have been criticised by food waste campaigners, such as Friends of the Earth, for rejecting "misshapen" fruit and vegetables that are edible but not available for customers to buy because they are deemed "ugly".

Waitrose tomato buyer Peter Cooke said: "When it comes to tomatoes there's absolutely no reason why beauty has to be skin deep. Our tomatoes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but, whatever their appearance, they all taste absolutely delicious.

"Every one of our mixed selection packs is different which, for me is the real beauty of using tomatoes that wouldn't normally be offered in this way to customers."

The recent move by Waitrose to sell misshapen fruit comes just two months after the House of Lords EU Committee called for "urgent action" on food wastage across Europe.

Peers argued that retailers had an important role to play in tackling the food waste problem because "they influence the behaviour of producers, manufacturers and consumers but, thus far, have failed to take their responsibilities sufficiently seriously".

Peers also cited WWF UK's pledge that food should not be rejected by retailers "for cosmetic reasons" as the burden is put on the farmer who must then find a new market for the food. WWF has argued that retailers need to take responsibility "to utilise that food if it is being grown".

Liz Gyekye
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