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.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
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

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?