A study from the University of Edinburgh has revealed that more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables across Europe are wasted due to the shape and size of the produce. Consumers are partly to blame for the level of produce wasted, as some items didn’t meet expectations of how they should look.
The study examined food waste and loss in the European Economic Area, looking at how much food was wasted before it reached supermarket shelves to be sold. Some losses were connected to government regulations and supermarket’s standards in addition to consumer ideals on how fresh produce should look.
The study was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, and also found that farmers who are contracted to supermarkets grew more than they were asked to supply, allowing a contingency for produce that would deemed unsuitable to sell.
Researchers suggested that consumers should have better awareness and that moving towards a more sustainable way of shopping could encourage more ‘ugly’ fruit and veg to be sold.
Stephen Porter, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain.”
Supermarkets have started introducing ‘wonky veg’ initiatives, and Lidl have recently started to sell 5kg boxes of mixed fruit and vegetables for as little as £1.50.