Supermarket shoppers urged to serve ‘wonky’ Christmas dinner

Supermarkets have increased their efforts to reduce the national food waste mountain at Christmas by offering shoppers edible produce nearing the end of its shelf life, as well as "wonky" sprouts, carrots and parsnips.

The wonky or “ugly” lines were being offered at cheaper prices in an effort to stop the rejection or waste of fruit and veg that was misshapen, had growth cracks or was much smaller or larger than average.

Morrisons has launched a £1 Too Good to Waste box, containing 1kg of assorted seasonal fruit and vegetables at the end of their shelf life but still good to eat.

Each item was “condition checked” and stores would stock at least 75 varieties of fruit, 80 types of vegetables, and 50 types of salad – any of which may appear in the box.

“We’ve listened to our customers who said they don’t want to see good food going to waste” said Drew Kirk, the fruit and vegetable director at Morrisons. “So we’ve created these boxes and every day we’ll fill them with a wide selection of produce at risk of being thrown away.

“Because produce may be unusual and varied, customers can also try some new and exciting dishes at home without having to spend a fortune.”

The box is the latest initiative in Morrisons’ campaign against food waste. The retailer buys whole crops from farmers and has launched nearly 40 wonky varieties of fruit and vegetables, from pomegranates and pears to sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Last week, it added a line of stubby sprout stalks for 75p, compared with £1.50 for a standard stalk. Growers had warned of a sprouts shortfall at Christmas after a prolonged dry spell in the summer.

Meanwhile, shoppers can stock up on Waitrose’s established Less than Perfect fruit and vegetables, which are slightly cheaper than their standard equivalents. Waitrose, which sold 2.4m packs of sprouts last year, has launched a line of baby sprouts in an attempt to shift as much of the crop as possible.

“Sprouts have had a tricky time this year,” said Hannah Stewart, the technical manager of fresh produce at Waitrose. “But our suppliers have worked incredibly hard and the quality this year is superb.”

Meanwhile, Tesco’s Perfectly Imperfect range has been bolstered this week by strawberries, apples, pears and carrots, with more to come before Christmas.

Rebecca Smithers

This article first appeared on the Guardian

edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network 

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie