Over a third of fruit and vegetables grown in Europe are thrown away, simply because of the appearance of the food. Research was a carried out by a team at University of Edinburgh, and concluded that the figure of produce wasted in the UK stands at 4.5 million tonnes.
The level of food waste is in part due to consumers who might not purchase fruit and vegetables if they don’t look perfect, and supermarkets having high standards on the produce supplied and sold. The research looked at the level of food waste in the European Economic Area, specifically at the level of food waste before reaching supermarkets.
Some of the food loss was attributed to government regulations, alongside consumer ideals and supermarket standards.
The research was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, and this revealed that farmers are supplying more food than necessary to supermarkets, even on a contracted basis, to allow contingency for rejected food.
Stephen Porter, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain.”
The solution proposed by researchers was to give consumers improved awareness on the level of food waste and move towards a more sustainable way of shopping. This in turn could then encourage more ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables to be sold.