wonky carrots

Caterers are being called upon to play an active role in reducing food waste by using more ‘wonky veg’.

The fresh call comes from the Regency Purchasing Group, a leading supplier to the hospitality industry, in response to a recent government report, which says ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables should be considered normal.

In the Food Waste Report, published on 30 April by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, MPs urged supermarkets to relax standards that prevent the sale of wonky vegetables to help cut waste.

The committee calculated that 7.3 million tonnes of food was wasted in UK households in 2015.

The Regency Purchasing Group, which buys goods and services for 2,400 businesses across the UK, wants the hospitality industry to lead by example, and to benefit itself by cutting costs and reducing needless waste.

Managing director Alex Demetriou said: “People have become conditioned to believe their food items should be specific shapes or sizes. This mentality means plenty of perfectly good produce is needlessly wasted, and leaves suppliers unable to sell some stock, which is just as nutritionally good for you as the perfect-looking items.

“This puts unnecessary pressure on the suppliers, and can mean increased prices for the limited quantity of perfectly-shaped produce.”

Demetriou calculated that pubs and restaurants could make savings of up to 12 per cent by buying wonky veg and said he saw particular opportunities for caterers to use surplus produce since “chefs commonly cut, dice or mash a product long before it is ever seen by the consumer.”

The British hospitality industry currently has to adhere to 10 EU legal standards on the size and shape of fruit and veg in shops; but these rules could potentially be stripped away as a result of Brexit.

The Regency Purchasing Group hopes this could open the door for home-grown wonky produce to be more widely sold.

The Food Waste Report claims food waste costs the average person in the UK £200 a year and it is estimated that up to one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally.