Shoppers would buy ugly fruit and veg

More 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.

Just 376 of the 2,007 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.

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 failing to meet requirements imposed 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 fruit 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.”

Pelican PR MD Michael Bennett commented: “Food brands and grocery retailers should take note of this research, as adopting more flexible specifications would help achieve their CSR objectives and create some positive PR.”

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