In March, Asda hit a milestone when it comes to food waste, putting its 1000th tonne of ‘wonky’ carrots on shelf – a momentous occasion attributed to the acceptance of less-than-perfect fruit and vegetables.
In 2015, Asda was the first retailer to introduce wonky carrots as part of a trial to see if customers would be open to eating misshapen (but still great tasting) produce, in a bid to reduce food waste on farms. The great reception to the produce led to the retailer introducing its Wonky vegetable box in 2016, a box filled with 5kg of vegetables for just £3.50. Two years on, the box is still flying off shelves and has contributed to over 300 tonnes of additional misshapen veg making it to the supermarket.
Ian Harrison, Asda’s produce technical director, said: “The introduction of the wonky range taught us that customers are more than open to a crooked carrot or a blemish and a bruise here and there. We knew the introduction of wonky veg was benefitting farmers and contributing to the reduction of food waste, but it also made us realise how much further we could go. We decided to look at our specifications across the board in the produce aisle, starting with carrots.”
Typically, Asda allowed 10% of carrots with cosmetic defects on to its shelf as part of its Grower’s Selection range. This number was increased to 40% in May 2017, meaning 690 tonnes of misshapen carrots have been sold as part of the retailer’s Growers Selection range in the last year alone.
Ian, continued: “A cosmetic defect can be blemish on the carrot, slight discolouration or a funny shape. We know that none of these things affect the great taste of the product and that customers are more than happy to put misshapen produce in to their shopping baskets, so relaxing our specifications was absolutely the right thing to do for both customers and our farmers.”
Guy Poskitt, Asda carrot grower, comments: “With the changes to Asda’s carrot specifications, we can work more closely to ensure we’re making the most of our crops to reduce the number of wonky carrots which previously would have been thrown away. Easter for us is a peak time for carrots, so this year we’re set to harvest four million of the vegetable as customers chomp their way through more than ever – curves and all.”