// Tesco to sell unwashed, muddy potatoes to cut down on food waste
// Potatoes are the UK’s single most wasted food in the home
// The trials have so far determined that shelf life for the unwashed potatoes nearly doubled and offered up to an extra 5 days freshness
Tesco is expanding a trial to sell unwashed, muddy potatoes in its stores as part of a strategy to cut down on food waste.
The Big 4 grocer said the move could also potentially double potatoes’ shelf life.
According to advisory action group Wrap, potatoes are the UK’s single most wasted food in the home.
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Until the 1970s, most UK supermarkets and greengrocers used to sell unwashed potatoes and by leaving soil on them it would help block out light and slow down their natural decay.
Tesco said it was now looking to bring back selling potatoes in the traditional way after it conducted a trial of selling organic white potatoes across 120 stores with positive results.
Run in partnership with potato supplier Branston, Tesco said the trial would now now be extended to 262 stores.
The trials have so far determined that shelf life for the unwashed potatoes nearly doubled and offered up to an extra five days freshness.
“Up until about 50 years ago potatoes would generally be sold unwashed and having a natural film of soil around them would help keep them fresher for longer,” Tesco produce lead technical manager Rob Hooper said.
“But towards the end of the 1970s, supermarkets and greengrocers in general moved towards selling more cosmetically perfect produce and as a result, potatoes were washed before being put out on display.
“Last November we ran an initial trial at stores in Bristol and the surrounding areas to see how shoppers would respond and it was a success, so now we are widening this trial across the south of England.”
Branston technical manager Dominic Groom said: “Working in partnership with Tesco, we identified a potential opportunity to extend the shelf-life of our organic potatoes by leaving them unwashed.
“Soil coverage can offer a layer of protection from the impact light can have on the skin turning green, which is a factor we consider when determining shelf-life.
“This trial should provide us with a clearer understanding of how this impact manifests and how customers feel about soil on their potatoes.”
When potatoes are exposed to light, chlorophyll forms within its cells which gradually turns its skin green.
Chlorophyll is the natural green pigment found in plant leaves and stems and is used along with sunlight energy to generate nutrients needed for growth.