The UK supermarket chain Tesco’s have a new product range: Perfectly Imperfect. It simply means selling any wonky or otherwise less attractive fruit and veg that would normally end up in the bin.

The UK supermarket chain Tesco’s have a new product range: Perfectly Imperfect. It simply means selling any wonky or otherwise less attractive fruit and veg that would normally end up in the bin. Photo: Tesco PLC

Perfectly imperfect

Initiatives against food waste

(Not) so nice!

The wonky veg – packaged carrots, parsnips and cucumbers – that is sold at some Tesco stores (UK supermarket chain) probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest. But, starting in 2016, this is precisely what is currently on offer at 200 selected supermarkets, targeting customers who are price-conscious, environment-conscious and socially aware. The products are indeed a bit wonky, come in different colours and are occasionally on the small side – qualities which most of us would regard as unattractive, so that we wouldn’t necessarily make them our first choice. However, these products are perfectly alright and indeed edible. In fact, quite often they get thrown away unnecessarily.
Similar pilot projects have also been launched by other supermarket chains, such as Asda and Morrison’s, as they, too, want to reduce their volumes of food waste. Photo: Morrison’s

Similar pilot projects have also been launched by other supermarket chains, such as Asda and Morrison’s as they, too, want to reduce their volumes of food waste. Photo: Morrison’s

The supermarket giant actually started its first wonky fruit campaign a while ago, in 2013, when it wanted to encourage more sustainability and social responsibility. However, the sale of wonky fruit and veg isn’t Tesco’s only project on this issue. The group has generally been working hard to achieve a marked reduction in its 50,000 tonnes of food waste, created annually by its stores. According to Tesco’s own estimates, 30,000 tonnes of this total is still edible. Working together with the FareShare FoodCloud network, any surplus food that cannot be sold at a supermarket is given to local charities.
Consumers, too, are happy about the new wonky product line with its good value for money. Sales figures have been rising since the beginning of the initiative. Photo: Tesco PLC

Consumers, too, are happy about the new wonky product line with its good value for money. Sales figures have been rising since the beginning of the initiative. Photo: Tesco PLC

Global awareness

The new product range is Tesco’s response to a global trend which has been at the focus of the packaging industry for several years now. According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost each year.
One way to solve the dilemma is through packaging that protects the product from getting spoiled, and this is currently the purpose of a joint international project set up by FAO, UNEP and Messe Düsseldorf. Operating as the SAVE FOOD initiative and together with industry and various organisations, its members support projects and research work that helps to reduce food losses and waste.

Well protected – thanks to the right packaging

The most basic function of any packaging is to protect the product it contains. And this is something it has done quite reliably for over 5,000 years, regardless of the material. Yet today’s innovative packaging clearly goes one step further. So-called active packaging, for instance, regulates the level of humidity within the packaging, thus preventing the formation of germs. Integrated absorbers can neutralise undesirable putrefaction gases, and intelligent nano-sensors on the packaging can even indicate whether the product is still fresh and edible.
This is frequently due to lack of knowledge about the sell-by and use-by dates, and so consumers tend to throw away their food too early. Photo: Infografik, FutureFood2050

Some fruit and veg wouldn’t win a beauty contest. Quite often, though, it ends up in the bin. Asda and other chains have now launched campaigns to help clear this misunderstanding: http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/content/date-labels-infographic Photo: Infografik, FutureFood2050

Love Food – Hate Waste: A campaign by the UK supermarket chain Asda against food waste

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