Wunderlinge carrots Rewe Austria

Rewe's Wunderlinge range went on sale this month

Three of Europe's leading retailers have launched new campaigns to promote sales of 'less than perfect' fresh fruit and vegetables, in an apparent attempt to head off public criticism of the amount of food thrown away by supermarket operators.

Germany's largest supermarket operator, Edeka, has started a four-week trial to assess demand for aesthetically flawed produce through its discount chain Netto, rolling out a new brand called Keiner ist Perfekt (No-one is Perfect) that recalled the UK grocer Sainsbury's own recent Campaign for Ugly Fruit & Veg.

Rival German retailer Rewe, meanwhile, has unveiled a range called Wunderlinge – a play on the German words for anomaly and miracle – in its Austrian outlets, offering a number of products including apples, potatoes, carrots and courgettes.

A spokesperson said the move was 'not a decision based on economic considerations' but instead 'a concrete step against the food waste culture' that would be extended to other markets if it proved successful.

Switzerland's largest food retailer Coop has also taken a similar step by launching a range called Unique, which includes products like carrots priced around 60 per cent cheaper than the premium-class equivalent.

'There would be scope for selling many more of these products, as demand has certainly exceeded our hopes', said spokewoman Nadja Ruch, although supply of such items remained a challenge given the overwhelming dominance of produce that conforms to European marketing standards within the modern retail supply chain.

The European Parliament recently adopted a non-legislative resolution calling for action to halve food waste by 2025 and improve access to food for poorer consumers. It also called for 2014 to be designated 'European Year against Food Waste'.

Back in January, the United Nations urged consumers to buy what it described as 'funny fruit' in a bid to limit the volume of fresh produce that goes to waste every year and feed millions of people around the world who go hungry every day.