FFE Magazine

For German fruit sellers, beauty is in the eye of the beholder

by FFE EU News staff

Fruit and vegetable sellers in Germany have given ‘ugly’ produce another chance. After German leading supermarket Edeka introduced flawed produce in some of their stores, other European retailers are following suit.

These food crusaders have made the move to put an end to what German retailer Rewe said the ‘food waste culture.’ Edeka spokesman Gernot Kasel confessed that most of the misshapen produce ends up thrown out or converted into animal feed as consumers ‘buy with their eyes too.’

Edeka’s new brand of ill-proportioned produce, called ‘nobody is perfect,’ is an attempt to change people’s perspectives of fruit and veggie norms of shape and colour. In addition, nobody is perfect is cheaper than their ‘normal’ counterparts.

Swiss retail giant Coop has also adopted ugly produce with a line called ‘Unique.’ Since August, the brand has been available in a third of their stores. Spokeswoman Nadja Ruch said that Unique is priced 60% less than ‘first-class’ fare. She also revealed that demands for produce which suffered under the ‘moods of nature’ have well exceeded expectations, and that ‘There would be scope for selling many more of these products.’

Meanwhile, Rewe has just launched ‘Wunderling’ (which means a cross between ‘anomaly’ and ‘miracle’) in the Austrian market. In a statement, the retailer admitted that entering the market wasn’t ‘a decision based on economic considerations.’ It was rather embracing a trend that discourages food waste.

Environment and anti-poverty groups have long slammed food waste in the European Union (EU), which the EU Commission said amounted to 89 million tonnes or 179kg of food per person per year. To reverse the trend, EU has declared 2014 as the ‘European Year against Food Waste.’

As more retailers are embracing the trend, farmers also welcome the new markets. But they still want to follow the current norms in their dealings with retailers. While flawed products are still ‘optimal in quality and taste,’ said Rewe, Germany’s farmers’ association Bauernverband still want to hold on to current price setting standards.

Jochen Winkhoff of Bauernverband said ‘Nowadays every deal is done on the phone or over the internet, and the parties have to be sure they talk about the same thing.’ Getting rid of the unsightly products remains ‘of secondary importance’ to farmers, and an overwhelming number still hold on to UN conventions for the standard produce look.

Some of these conventions specify that zucchinis must be at least 7cm long and that apricots must not have brown stains that exceed 15% of their surface.

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