Author: Rebecca Smithers
Posted on: The Guardian | April 1st, 2018
One of the UK’s largest fresh produce growers has teamed up with a Spanish fruit supplier to create a new product, Waste Not, which will stop edible but visually ‘imperfect’ ingredients such as fresh celery, beetroot and oranges from being dug back into the soil, or used for animal feed. The new juices will go on sale in branches of Tesco.
The move is one of a growing number of innovations to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain, following criticism of supermarkets and suppliers that perfectly good food is being thrown out while UK consumers are relying increasingly on food banks.
Supermarket chains have been selling ‘wonky veg’ ranges for some time, at discounted prices to make them more appealing to consumers. In April, Morrisons added wonky chillies to its misshapen fruit and veg range – the same heat and flavour but costing 39% less than standard chillies. Defects include missing stalks, imperfect colour and extreme curves.
Meanwhile, companies such as Rubies in the Rubble specialise in making chutneys and sauces from surplus ingredients that would otherwise go to waste, and in May is launching a new range of ‘vegan-friendly mayonnaise’ (made from aquafaba, the liquid in tinned chick peas) through Ocado.
Soft fruit, root vegetables and salad are particularly prone to waste. One in 10 strawberries in the UK ended up as waste according to a recent study by the government’s food waste reduction advisory body Wrap – equivalent to 10,000 tonnes and valued at £24m. And one in five lettuces were unharvested, with 38,000 tonnes lost with a value of £7m.
Celery is one of the worst areas. Mike Bullock of Waste Not found that half all celery grown in the UK was discarded before it even gets past the farm gate. “It’s
the same with oranges that are ‘ugly on the outside but still beautiful and juicy on the inside. We couldn’t sit by and watch all this healthy produce be put in the bin.”
In the US the problem is even worse. Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, inflicting a heavy environmental toll.
UK suppliers may have advanced forecasting and ordering systems, but they often have to manage crop flushes, or ‘bumper crops’. “We can literally go from feast to famine and back again with huge surpluses to deal with,” said Mark Haynes, commercial director for G’s, which has teamed up with Spanish fruit grower AMC to create the new Waste Not range of juices.
All the fruit and vegetables in the drinks will be cold-pressed – which involves squeezing the juice in small batches instead of heat-pasteurising it. Putting the juice under high pressure in this way maintains freshness.
At £1.50 per 250ml bottle, the range will undercut the premium prices typically charged in the ‘trendy’ cold-press juice drink market and it is hoped that within the first 12 weeks of going on sale will save around 3.5 tonnes of surplus or waste fruit and vegetables.
“These juice drinks are the latest way that we are helping tackle food waste by ensuring as much of the crop as possible gets used,” said Tesco prepared fruit buyer Jo Batty. “The fruit and vegetables being used in the range fall outside the specifications for fresh produce and offer shoppers a great taste.”