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Most British Shoppers Willing to Buy ‘Ugly’ Fruits and Vegetables

'Ugly' VegetablesMore than 80% of British shoppers would be willing to buy fruit and vegetables which are not perfect in shape or colour, according to a survey by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Just 376 of the 2007 people surveyed – less than 20% – said they would only buy perfect looking produce.

The survey follows a report by the Institution released in January which estimated that between 30-50% of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. (Read About 2 Billion Tonnes of Food Produced Ends Up as Waste)

According to the “Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not” report, vegetable and fruit crops around the world are frequently not harvested or do not leave the farm due to them failing to meet requirements imposed on them by retailers for physical appearance.

According to the Institution’s survey:

  • 45% of people said that the appearance of fruit and vegetables doesn’t matter;

  • 26% of people said they would buy the cheapest option; and

  • 10% said they would actively choose imperfect looking produce.

Men are revealed to be the most concerned with cosmetically-pleasing food, with 22% choosing only perfect looking fruit and vegetables compared with 16% of women.

Dr. Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said, “This survey clearly indicates that, despite perceptions held by commercial buyers, UK consumers are willing to purchase imperfect-looking fruits and vegetables. This food, which is perfectly good to eat, is often rejected by buyers before it leaves the farm as it does not meet cosmetic requirements. A dinner composed entirely of food wasted in this way, much of which was rejected by UK supermarkets, was held in Nairobi recently by the UN for hundreds of high-level guests to highlight this scandalous practice.”

“There are various reasons why a staggering amount of food produced is not being consumed around the globe each year. In less developed countries, many of the losses stem from issues like poorly-engineered storage and transport infrastructure, but in developed countries like the UK, food waste is largely the result of commercial practices, such as the demand for aesthetically pleasing food products, and wasteful behaviour in the home.”

“We want to encourage everybody, from the UN, Government and retail business leaders through to people preparing their dinners at home, to think about the amount of food that is wasted and the land, water and energy resources involved in bringing food to the plate. Eliminating this waste can go a long way towards meeting the food demands of our growing global population and free-up water, energy and land for other human uses.”

Source: Institution of Mechanical Engineers.