Big Four supermarket chain Asda is encouraging shoppers to buy crooked crops, in support of Jamie Oliver’s new ‘wonky veg’ campaign against Britain’s ‘criminal’ food waste. The launch was inspired by the new Channel 4 series Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, which sees the pair attempt to tackle food waste purely for aesthetic reasons.
During the first episode of the series, Jamie and Jimmy met with farmers who explained the significant amount of their own produce that wasn’t selling, simply because it was deemed ‘ugly’.
Oliver said: “when half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks this waste isn’t just bonkers, it’s bordering on criminal.”
The pair suggested a trial in Asda stores, in order to better understand customer perceptions and how they could be altered. Tactics including discounts boasted the most potential, with three quarters of shoppers admitting that lower prices would be their biggest motivation. The survey also revealed that 65% of shoppers were open to buying oddly shaped produce if it was still good quality.
Asda’s new range ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ will see products bagged separately and sold at a lower than standard price, in an attempt to increase customer awareness of waste and their likelihood to purchase ‘ugly food’. The range will also feature characters such as Paul Potato and Suzie Swede to appeal to families. These new specifications should allow for up to 20% more of a citrus crop, 15% more swede and 10% more potatoes being sold.
“If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load, there’s no difference in taste or nutritional value” Oliver added. Asda’s Produce Technical Director Ian Harrison agreed, stating “even if fruit and veg have some knobbles and blemishes, this doesn’t affect the quality or taste – a carrot is still a carrot.”
The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimated that one-third of food for human consumption is wasted (about 1bn tonnes per year) while 90,000 tonnes of produce is sent to landfill each year in the UK.
If proven successful, the trial may be expanded to other fresh food lines, promoting the quality of produce that would otherwise go to waste.
Misshapen products will inhabit shelves in five Asda stores from 26 January.