organic produce

As much as 40 per cent of fresh produce is rejected by supermarkets due to it not reaching their quality standards, according to a new study.

The report, by the UK’s Global Food Security Programme, reignites the debate over attitudes to so-called ‘ugly’ fruit and veg, claiming that issues over size, shape and blemishes are causing perfectly edible produce to be rejected by retailers.

The report, Food Waste Within Global Food Systems, also claims that 15-20 per cent of crops are lost during the production stage due to pests and diseases, though it stresses work is being done to reduce weather-related losses through better forecasting, so that waste from harvesting crops at the wrong time and from inefficient supermarket stocking can be minimised. Grading standards are also being redefined by marketing odd shapes and sizes of fruit and veg.

Nearly a quarter of waste is generated during the UK post-production supply chain during manufacturing processes, the report continues, though much of this is inedible parts of produce. It all equates to an £11.8 billion economic loss at an average annual cost of £480 per family.

Food losses from within distribution and retail only represent three per cent of total losses.

The report points out that great progress has been made in reducing household waste in recent years, though it adds that over-purchasing and poor cooking and storage skills are still an issue.

You can read the full report here.