The customer-led obsession with perfect fruit and vegetables continues to mystify me but it may have suffered a short-term hiccup.
Today, the Telegraph reported that wonky or blemished fruit and vegetables would return to supermarket shelves thanks to the very poor growing season.
Bent courgettes and wonky potatoes will be sold in supermarkets following one of the worst farming seasons in decades.
Sainsbury’s relaxed its rules on the appearance of its fruit and vegetables after harvests were hit by the driest March in nearly six decades, the wettest June ever recorded, and then autumn storms.
Misshapen produce is usually kept off the shelves but the poor weather conditions led the supermarket chain to have a rethink…
“…the unpredictable weather this season has left growers with bumper crops of ugly-looking fruit and vegetables with reported increases in blemishes and scarring, as well as shortages due to later crops.
A more cynical view would be that the supermarkets have seen an opportunity to leverage more from their supply chains in much the same way as Tesco have done with their own-brand toilet paper.
When we did our shopping last week, we noticed the cardboard tubes inside the rolls of paper were noticeably smaller in diameter and quite difficult to fit on the toilet roll holder.
According to the marketing blurb, Tesco made the tubes smaller to reduce their carbon footprint and minimise lorry journeys, thereby keeping their customers feeling warm and fuzzy about their contribution to saving the environment.
It’s just incidental that Tesco can increase efficiency and lower costs by using fewer materials to make the tubes, use less packaging to wrap the rolls, and fit more rolls onto a lorry—especially as the price remains the same.
Similarly with fruit and vegetables, especially as their increasingly sold by numbers in bags and not by weight.
If a supermarket can sell six small, blemished apples in a bag at the same price as six bigs ones, while persuading customers it’s a good thing, then why sell the big apples? After all, warehouses, trucks and shelving can take many more bags of small apples then they can of big ones.
I can’t see them being able to sell many neeps (swedes/rutabaga) like ours, though. Even the most gullible consumer isn’t going to be convinced that egg-sized neeps are a bargain.
- ‘Ugly’ fruit and veg make the grade (guardian.co.uk)
- Tesco boss plots fightback after shock of fall in group profits (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘Wonky’ fruit and veg to return to supermarket shelves (thehumanimprint.typepad.com)