Asda has started selling boxes of “wonky” vegetables in 29 of its stores across Scotland in a bid to cut the amount of discarded produce.
The supermarket group said the move follows a successful trial south of the Border and will result in at least 500 tonnes of “waste” fruit and vegetables being taken from farmers and sold in its branches by the end of the year.
Research found that 65 per cent of Asda customers were open to the idea of misshapen vegetables and 75 per cent were drawn in by the “significantly” low price. Each “family-sized” 5kg box sells for £3.50 – about a third cheaper than standard lines – and will contain staples such as cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, onions, peppers, parsnips and potatoes.
The chain has committed to putting 10,000 boxes in 550 stores at least once a month, and said it was supporting farmers by buying as much of their crop as possible.
Ian Harrison, Asda’s produce quality director, said: “We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the response to our wonky vegetable box and think it shows just how conscious our customers are of food waste, particularly in the produce aisle.
“We knew from our initial research that customers aren’t phased by the odd knobble here or a bruise there and like the fact that our wonky range is a little bit cheaper, but including this ‘ugly’ veg in a mixed box format has helped customers save even more money and plan meals for the family for the whole week, ensuring nothing is thrown away, even when it’s taken out of the supermarket aisle.”
Currently, 15 per cent of potatoes do not meet retailers’ specifications because they are blemished or the wrong size, while 15 per cent of parsnips do not reach shelves because they are oddly shaped or have “superficial” defects. Similarly, 10 per cent of onions that are the wrong shape and size, and 8 per cent of misshapen carrots, are left with growers.
Scottish public health minister Maureen Watt said: “It’s great news that the wonky veg pilot is coming to Scottish stores. Asda have been one of the partners in our ‘eat better feel better’ campaign, which aims to help and encourage people to eat a healthier diet.
“This initiative really fits in with the ethos of the campaign. The supply of low-cost healthy food is an ideal way to break down one of the biggest barriers that can stop people from eating healthily.”
Stores receiving “wonky” veg boxes
Aberdeen – Beach
Bridge of Dee
Dundee – Milton Of Craigie
Edinburgh – Chesser
Edinburgh – The Jewel