HomeNEWSSupermarkets rally against unrealistic beauty expectations for fruit and vegetables

Supermarkets rally against unrealistic beauty expectations for fruit and vegetables

Can we solve the world’s food wastage problem by embracing ugly produce? A French supermarket chain has taken a stand against the unrealistic expectations of beauty set for fruits and vegetables. The shop aims to combat the rampant discrimination against non-conventionally beautiful produce and food waste.

In light of our recent article on dumpster diving, we cast our eye around the globe to find innovations by stores to stop food waste.

Our favourite was one from 2013 by French brand Intermarché. Titled ‘Inglorious fruits and vegetables’, the ad campaign gave ‘warts and all’ produce a 30 percent markdown in price.

It celebrated the “ugly” produce that is often discarded by growers, shoppers and supermarkets and championed for taste over waste.

Coupled with a clever marketing strategy and some amusing – and slightly disturbing – ads, the campaign was a hit.

The results were huge: an average sale of 1.2 tonnes per store in the first two days, store traffic increased 24 percent and 21 million people were reached by the campaign after one month.

Starring roles were given to a ridiculous potato, a hideous orange, a disfigured eggplant, an ugly carrot, a failed lemon and an unfortunate clementine.

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The photographer of the campaign, Patrice de Villiers, told Fast Company that taste is more important than waste.

“It’s the taste that matters. Given the vast amount of fresh produce needlessly thrown away, the sooner more supermarkets implement something like the Intermarché strategy the better,” de Villiers says.

Two years on, the ugly food movement is picking up steam worldwide. Woolworths Australia launched a similar campaign called “Odd Bunch” at the end of last year, and UK retailer ASDA this year promoted “wonky” fruit and vegetables. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver fronted both campaigns.

Back in New Zealand, no supermarkets have joined the movement that we’re aware of, but food waste is an ongoing problem. WasteMINZ and local councils found that we chuck out more than 120,000 tonnes of food waste a year.

Could embracing the “uglies” of produce be the way to beat it?

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