Asda extends ‘wonky’ fruit and veg range

Asda extends ‘wonky’ fruit and veg rangeMore ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables will be sold in Asda stores after the retailer announced this week that its ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ range is to be extended.

Misshaped sweet potatoes and garlic will soon be added to the range at the 25 participating stores across the UK, which already offer carrots, pears, apples and citrus fruits. In addition, the retailer has also said that the range of wonky fruit and vegetables, which are sold at reduced rates, will be extended further in 2016.

Asda says that by selling inconsistently sized and ‘scruffier’ garlic and wonky sweet potatoes, it will save 10 per cent of the crop from being wasted.

The retailer’s Beautiful on the Inside range was first piloted in five stores – Grantham, Coventry, Dagenham, Bedminster (Bristol) and Wallington (Croydon) – in January this year, and was extended to a further 20 stores over the course of the year due to its popularity.

The success of the range, Asda says, has also allowed it to relax specifications on incoming produce, meaning less waste is being created earlier in the supply chain.

Range is ‘good news for farmers’

Commenting on the extension, Ian Harrison, Asda’s Produce Technical Director said: "[The range] was always meant as a trial to see how customers reacted to slightly scruffier produce, but this has also enabled us to flex our specifications across a wide variety of our standard produce lines.

“For example, we’re taking 340 more tonnes of standard and organic carrots which would previously have been out of spec. We’ve also relaxed specifications on other produce like green beans, chillies and standard sweet potatoes, which has put a further 300 tonnes of produce onto our shelves, which is good news for farmers.

“We have more work to do and we’re committed to working with our growers to ensure we utilise more of their crops whether that’s in ‘Wonky’ or in our standard ranges.”

Wonky fruit proving popular with shoppers

Established in collaboration with TV chef Jamie Oliver and Suffolk-based farmer Jimmy Doherty, whose TV series, Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, also began in January, the Asda campaign used marketing material including Suzie Swede, Claude Carrot and Alfie Apple to explain that misshapen fruit and vegetables were no less healthy or tasty than conventional products.

The pair approached Asda with idea of running a small in-store trial to understand customer perceptions of wonky produce and whether they would be willing to buy it.

A similar trial launched by French supermarket chain Intermarché in July 2014 was considered to be a success after all of the 600 pounds of ‘ugly’ carrots, apples and oranges were sold and footfall traffic increased by 24 per cent in the first three days of the campaign.

Supporting such ranges, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers last year released a report calling on commercial buyers to stop rejecting imperfect-looking food after finding that 80 per cent of British shoppers would buy fruit and vegetables that are ‘not perfect in shape or colour’.

Another television series has thrust the issue of produce being rejected by supermarkets due to strict cosmetic restrictions into the spotlight this week.

Hugh’s War on Waste saw TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall investigate instances of waste across the country, and focused in particular on a Norfolk parsnip farm struggling to cope with the proportion of its yield that doesn’t meet the standards of its sole customer Morrisons.

The programme stated that in a single week, 20 tonnes of parsnips would be rejected from the farm for being too small, long or wonky and turned into waste.

Read Asda’s ‘Food for Thought’ booklet on what the retailer is doing to reduce food waste.