Waitrose offers 'ugly' fruit and vegetables at discount rate

The first shift appears today in the big supermarkets' ruthless quest for picture-perfect fruit and vegetables, long hated by many farmers and growers for the waste that it involves.

Waitrose, the upmarket chain owned by the John Lewis partnership, is launching a range of "ugly" looking seasonal fruit at discounted prices for use in cooking. The "class two" produce will be either visually flawed or oddly shaped, according to Waitrose, but otherwise perfect for eating.

But because the plums, strawberries, raspberries and other items are not ideal in appearance, they will be marketed for use in cookery and jam-making at a reduced price, in packs costing 50p to £1 less per kilo than their perfect-looking equivalents.

Waitrose says it is launching the initiative to help its suppliers save on wastage while offering a price deal to its customers. "It means our existing growers and suppliers can sell us their class-two produce, which normally they would have had to sell elsewhere," a Waitrose spokeswoman said.

"The eating quality is exactly the same as class one, but as they are not class one in appearance we are branding them as part of our range of cooks' ingredients."

Waitrose fruit buyer Tom Richardson said: "Supermarkets are often criticised for rejecting fruit and vegetables because they don't look picture-perfect.

"But this innovative new range will help our customers realise that while beauty might be skin deep, flavour certainly isn't."

The range, which goes on sale at 57 of the 179 Waitrose branches from today, will include year-round rhubarb and Bramley apples, plus seasonal plums, cherries, pears, quince and other berries. The big supermarkets' insistence on cosmetically-attractive produce is a great bone of contention with growers.

It means that large parts of a crop, and sometimes a crop in its entirety, can be rejected for visual imperfections. Whole harvests have been dumped, or left on the tree. A survey by Friends of the Earth found some growers complaining that the conditions were impossible to meet.

Fruit could be rejected because of minor skin blemishes or for being the wrong size; apples could be rejected for not being red enough, or for being too red, while pears could be rejected for not being sufficiently pear-shaped. Even cooking apples are rejected because of cosmetic standards despite the fact that they will normally be peeled.

The survey found that supermarkets go beyond the already strict standards for cosmetic appearance set out by the European Union, and that appearance standards have got even stricter in recent years. Furthermore, the group said, the supermarket's pre-occupation with appearance is forcing growers to use more pesticides on their produce.

The Waitrose policy shift was warmly welcomed by Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, the organic farming pressure group. "I think it's absolutely brilliant, and long overdue," he said. "Organic farmers who are growing potatoes or carrots can have up to 40 per cent of their crop rejected because of the way it looks. This is a very good step forward indeed."

Waitrose has taken several steps to "reconnect" farmers and consumers in recent months including a series of "Meet the Farmer" sessions at Waitrose branches and agricultural shows, and a programme of workshops for farmers. Waitrose's boss, the John Lewis chairman Sir Stuart Hampson, is the current president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine