'Ugly' fruit and vege to be sold in supermarkets at lower prices
Wonky-shaped vegetables and imperfect fruit are heading back on to supermarket shelves at prices much lower than their cosmetically-perfect counterparts.
Double-legged carrots, and nectarines bruised by the elements have long been snubbed by picky shoppers, who in turn forced stores to turn away farmers' produce that doesn't fit their flawless expectations.
But from Monday Countdown stores across New Zealand are launching The Odd Bunch - a range of misshapen fruit and veges.
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The initiative hopes to reduce the more than 120,000 tonnes of food going into landfills every year across New Zealand, costing the country around $872 million a year.
Countdown general manager Chris Fisher said: "Shoppers have long favoured and demanded perfect-looking produce, but we hope to challenge that thinking with The Odd Bunch.
"There's more demand for less-perfect produce in the market place. It takes time to sort out supply, but it's the right time for us now so we're bringing it to the market.
"When people see the quality is the same they'll change [their buying habits]."
Love Food Hate Waste spokeswoman Jenny Marshall said we're all guilty of wasting food and shoppers can be overly picky about what they buy.
Love Food Hate Waste, who campaign for food waste reduction, that found the average New Zealand household sent 79 kilograms of edible food to landfills every year, and on average households threw out $563 of food a year in 2015.
"We have to have the ripest, roundest tomatoes and this creates this situation where supermarkets have to have perfect produce," she said.
"Having a range that's not as glamorous but at cheaper prices can allow farmers to sell a greater crop to supermarkets."
Marshall said shoppers were quick to look at something that's not the right shape and judge it as bad, but the quality is usually the same.
"Hopefully this will create a mind shift."
Marshall wanted shoppers to be wary of going overboard and stocking up on the cheaper produce.
"Yes it's a good special, but how are you going to use it up? If you buy more than you need think about how else you can use it, otherwise it'll just be thrown away."
The first produce to join The Odd Bunch would be hail-damaged stone fruit and carrots, with more fruit and vegetables appearing on shelves in the coming months.
The range would be available based on season and supply, and stock would vary from store to store. The Odd Bunch would be available online when it's stocked in-store.
Shoppers spoken to this week in Auckland were in favour of the concept.
Angela Lambie, from the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby, said she would definitely consider buying misshapen produce.
"For anyone who has grown veges themselves in the background, they know they come out of the ground not perfect," Lambie said.
"So yes, we would buy them, I think it is a great idea to see them sold [rather] than potentially wasted," she said.
Angela's daughter, Sofia Lambie, 8, said she would have no problem eating a misshapen carrot.
Theo Jury, 28, said being able to buy produce at a cheaper price really appealed to him, despites its appearance.
"At the end of the day a carrot is a carrot," Jury said.
"I mean, I hardly peel them, I usually just cut them up whenever I use them in cooking. So their appearance does not bother me at all," he said.
Davina Prankerd said she supported any initiative that reduced wastage of produce.
"There is so much wastage of fruit and vegetables that are not perfect and I think it is a real pity," Prankerd said.
Prankerd's daughter, Ava Sanders, 10, said she thought the misshapen and different sized vegetables "looked more fun to eat then the regular ones".
Franziska Poschi and Alex Fulton said they would actively search out misshapen produce at the supermarket if they knew it was going to be cheaper.
"As long as it is fresh, I really don't mind if it is misshapen or damaged," Fulton said.
CUTTING PRICES FOR WEIRD-SHAPED VEGES
- Nectarines Odd Bunch price is $3.99 bag — usually $5.99 a kilo
- Plums Odd Bunch price is $3.99 bag — usually $5.99 a kilo
- Avocados three pack Odd Bunch price is $3.99 — usually $1.49 each
- Avocados five pack Odd Bunch 4.99 bag — usually $1.49 each
- Potatoes 2.5kg (white washed) Odd Bunch price is $4.99 bag — usually $7.99
- Potatoes 2.5kg (red washed) Odd Bunch $4.99 bag — usually $7.99
- Carrots 1.5kg Odd Bunch $3.99 bag — usually $5.99.
- Onions 1.5kg red and brown Odd Bunch $3.49 bag — usually $4.99
- Sunday Star Times