Lidl is set to become the first supermarket to sell boxes of produce that no longer looks so visually appealing but is still perfectly good to eat in a bid to reduce in-store waste.
The ‘Too Good to Waste’ boxes, priced at £1.50 for approximately 5kg of mixed produce, will contain fruits and vegetables selected from Lidl shelves that may be discoloured, slightly overripe or closer to their use by date.
Unlike Asda and Morrisons' 'wonky veg' boxes, which are assembled by suppliers to make use of out-of-spec produce, the boxes will be put together in store each morning by Lidl’s ‘Freshness Specialists’.
It is hoped they will encourage customers to buy fruit and vegetables they might otherwise have left on the shelf, as well as giving shoppers a better value option.
The trial is taking place across 122 Lidl stores and, if rolled out nationwide, it could help rescue 10,000 tonnes of surplus produce a year, Lidl said.
As part of fresh efforts to drive down food waste, the supermarket said it will also introduce additional price reductions on its fresh items that do contain best before and use by dates. This comes on top of a 30 per cent reduction already placed on items appraoching their best before and use by dates, giving customers the opportunity to make further savings on staple items.
Christian Härtnagel, chief of Lidl UK, said: “Food waste is one of the most important topics that our industry is facing, and one that we are fully committed to tackling. This is why in 2017 we set ourselves the ambitious target of reducing our food waste by 25 per cent across just three years.
“We’re proud that in just one year, our stores have managed to cut food waste by 13 per cent, however we recognise that there’s still a long way to go, to get where we need to be.
He added: “Proportionately, we sell the most fruit and veg in the sector, but we know from our data that fresh produce is one of the biggest contributors to food waste in stores, so we’re excited by the difference our ‘Too Good to Waste’ initiative will make.”
Lidl has underlined its target for cutting food waste by committing to the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target of a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.
Unlike most other UK supermarkets, the discounter has chosen not to include ‘Best Before’ dates on 90 per cent of its fruit and veg, encouraging customers to make common sense decisions about the fresh produce they buy.
One of the most significant steps taken by Lidl to reduce waste has been the rollout of its Feed It Back programme. Launched in January 2017, Lidl has worked in partnership with social platform Neighbourly to connect its stores with local charities and donate food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
The rollout across all Lidl stores, which number more than 710, is expected to complete imminently, the supermarket said.