More than one-third of farmed fruit and vegetables fail to reach supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, research suggests.
The research comes from the University of Edinburgh, and finds that over 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe are discarded each year.
The report highlights that the climate change impact of growing the wasted food is the equivalent to the carbon emissions of some 400,00 cars.
It said that this is largely because they ‘do not meet supermarkets and consumers’ standards of how they should look’.
A Shocking Scale
“The scale of food that is wasted when it is perfectly safe to eat is shocking at a time when one-tenth of the world’s population is perpetually underfed,” said Professor David Reay, School of GeoSciences.
Researchers at the University examined details of food loss and waste within the EuroZone, and studied how much food is discarded before it even reaches the shelves.
Due to strict government regulations, supermarkets’ high standards and consumers’ expectations of how fruit and vegetables should look, more than one-third of produce was scrapped before the point of sale.
As a result, farmers contracted with supermarkets typically grow more food than they are obliged to supply, allowing for a portion of food deemed unfit to sell.
Scientists suggest that greater awareness among consumers, and a movement towards shopping sustainably, could encourage the sale of more ugly vegetables.
They also suggest a greater use of misshapen produce, for example in chopped, processed or picked goods, or for sale at a discount to charities.
“Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain,” concluded Stephen Porter, School of GeoSciences.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.