More wonky veg should be sold to cut food waste

Knobbly and crooked vegetables should not be banished from supermarket shelves simply because they aren't a perfect shape, MPs have said.

Around £10bn worth of food is thrown away by households every year, much of it simply because it looks unusual, according to a report by Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Chairman Neil Parish, who is MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "It's ridiculous that perfectly good vegetables are wasted simply because they're a funny shape.

"Farmers supplying fruits and vegetables to UK supermarkets currently get their produce rejected on the grounds that it fails to meet cosmetic quality standards set by the big retailers.

"Knobbly carrots and parsnips don't cook or taste any different. It's high time we saved them from the supermarket reject bins," he said.

Some supermarkets recently launched wonky veg lines which were positively received by shoppers.

Asda was the first, with a "wonky veg box" containing 5kg of fresh produce including carrots, potatoes, peppers, cucumber, cabbage, leeks, parsnips and onions.

The committee made a range of suggestions, including a national reduction target to cut the food waste that costs the average person £200 a year; raising awareness from a young age; more funding for waste reduction body Wrap and a review of food date labelling, particularly "best before" dates.

Other suggestions included requiring food businesses over a certain size to separate food waste for collection; increasing the amount of surplus food given to charities; and requiring supermarkets to publish data on the amount of food they throw out, something already done by Tesco and being looked at by Sainsbury's.

Mr Parish added: "Economically, food waste costs households hundreds of pounds a year and causes increased disposal costs to local authorities, pushing up council tax bills.

"Socially, it is a scandal that people are going hungry and using food banks when so much produce is being wasted.

"And environmentally it is a disaster, because energy and resources are wasted in production only for the food to end up rotting in landfills where it produces methane - a potent climate-changing gas."

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