French supermarket sells ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables

Positive News

Supermarket chain Intermarché in France has been selling ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables to customers at a discounted rate to highlight the problem of food waste and provide customers with a cheaper shopping alternative

Launched in the city of Provins, the Les fruits et légumes moches (Inglorious fruit and vegetables) initiative offers misshapen fruit and vegetables at a 30% discount. It aims to help address the 300m tonnes of food that is wasted globally every year and challenge controls on physical appearance imposed by retailers that see fruit and vegetable crops frequently unharvested or left at the farm.

To highlight the campaign to consumers, posters were put up across the shop with slogans including ‘hideous orange makes beautiful juice’. Customers were also asked to blind taste both ‘inglorious’ and standard fruit and vegetables and according to the supermarket, customers said that they tasted the same.

Intermarché claims that the campaign was successful after the first three days saw all of the 272kg (600lbs) of ‘inglorious’ carrots, apples and oranges on offer sold, and footfall increased by 24%. The supermarket has said that it is now looking at rolling the campaign across all of its stores in France.

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Niki Charalampopoulou, managing director for anti food waste campaigners Feeding the 5000, believes a similar campaign could be popular in Britain.

“Recent experience in the UK shows that selling wonky fruit and veg has enormous potential and is one of the easiest ways of dramatically reducing food waste in the supply chain,” she told Resource magazine. “In 2012 alone, 300,000 tonnes of fruit and veg were saved from being wasted due to UK retailers temporarily relaxing their cosmetic standards because of bad weather.

“What the latest initiative from Intermarché shows is that marketing imperfect fruit and vegetables makes perfect sense from an environmental and economic point of view. And the public love it too.”

This article was first published by Resource Magazine.

Photo credit: © Flickr member Pete

  • Gwynnie

    Bring on the ugly fruit and veg! I’m sure that most consumers don’t care and would happily buy up the fruit and veg that doesn’t match up to the supermarkets’ standards of beauty. It’s ridiculous that any food is wasted because it isn’t “pretty” enough to sell, don’t you think?

  • Karen

    Not only do “imperfect” fruit and veg taste as good as any other, but supermarkets really need to take responsibility for ditching them in the first place. They’re the ones who insisted the EU put a grading system in place for supermarkets to use, and then promptly used the guidelines to ditch any but “picture perfect” “grade A” fruit and veg in the first place, charging customers more for the privilege and paying farmers less by wastage.

    Basically, this supermarket is just doing what supermarkets used to do. It really is time supermarkets realised that they shot themselves in the foot.

    We’ve a local transition town veg box scheme which pays farmers 80-90%, and some of our fruit and veg has been hilariously shaped. Once we’ve taken photos and had a good giggle, we’ve found they taste just as good (if not better for being fresh and not carted for miles in refrigerated trucks).

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