November 30, 2012 7:31 pm

‘Ugly’ fruit and veg find way on to shelves

Enough short carrots, thin parsnips, blemished potatoes and other so-called “ugly” produce to fill 2,500 Boeing 747 jumbo jets have hit the shelves of British supermarkets this year.

The arrival of the 300,000 tonnes of imperfect fruit and vegetables follows a relaxation in specifications from buyers, such as supermarkets, who agreed to the changes after a year of high rainfall and minimal sun left farmers harvesting smaller, imperfect-looking produce.

Farmers have applauded the decision. “Supply is very short so a sensible approach to specifications that allows more perfectly edible fruit through supermarket doors is welcomed,” said Ali Capper, an apple grower from Worcestershire.

Concessions included an early move by Waitrose supermarkets to accept shorter carrots and smaller strawberries; the Wm Morrison chain followed, incorporating smaller than usual broccoli stems, leeks, sprouts and other produce in its “value” ranges. J Sainsbury said it would use all fruit and vegetable that met regulations and stood up on taste in ready-prepared salads and meals.

Growers surveyed by the National Farmers Union believe that an additional 15 per cent of crops has been accepted by retailers this year, compared with other growing seasons.

“In accepting to buy weather-blemished and wonky produce this season, shoppers are sending a very clear message that they are happy to eat food that may not pass a beauty contest but still tastes great,” said Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, NFU chief horticulture and potatoes adviser.

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