Recently, a movement to dump imperfect mangos in North Queensland as juice contracts began to run dry has outragedcustomers and growers. The reduced amount of contracts for juicing left growers with tons of bumped and blemished produce, wasted simply because they didn’t meet premium grade standards. According to mango grower, Merryl Patane, “It’s very sad. Just visual, it’s just looks. It’s not affecting the flesh whatsoever.”
Hundreds of perfectly healthy pieces of fruit will never approach the supermarket shelves due to aesthetic shortcomings, and this revelation has struck a chord with a large portion of the public. Organisations such as Second Bite and OzHarvest’s REAP program have emerged in an attempt to tackle the senseless waste.
The ugly fruit movement
The “Ugly Fruit Movement” has been around for some time now, prompting consumers to consider the safe, edible food that is being thrown onto the scrap heap on the basis of looks alone. The Ugly Fruit Movement prompts supermarkets to approach aesthetically challenged produce from a different angle and thereby end the prejudice.
Today, retailers and consumers reject approximately 20% of all vegetables and fruits because they do not look perfect, wasting $10 billion worth of Australia’s food every year. There are no food safety issues with the wasted produce and the items are disposed of simply due to the way they appear.
Despite the fact that creative business genius Richard Branson has spoken out in support of the Ugly Fruit Movement in the past, describing the motion as simply “common sense”, a number of supermarkets throughout Australia have been somewhat reluctant to join the cause. Fortunately, however, it seems as though things may be changing.
Woolworths joins the crusade
The supermarket giant Woolworths announced their decision to begin selling ugly fruits and vegetables for a discounted price at the end of 2014. The action is being taken in an effort to make healthy food a cheaper, more viable option for customers, and reduce waste at the same time. Price reductions will vary, but a kilo of “odd bunch” pears are currently selling for $2.78 in comparison to regular Packham pears at $3.98.
Woolworths commented that they wanted to take steps to prove to customers that visually imperfect food poses no food safety risks and is still “delicious and healthy”. What’s more, at the same time, by offering imperfect produce for less, they are allowing local farmers to sell more of their crop. The program is the first of its kind for a national supermarket, and follows the monumental success of a similar movement put forth by the French chain, Intermarche, and UK superstore, Sainsbury’s.