(Not) so nice!
The wonky veg – packaged carrots, parsnips and cucumbers – that is sold at some Tesco stores (UK supermarket chain) probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest. But, starting in 2016, this is precisely what is currently on offer at 200 selected supermarkets, targeting customers who are price-conscious, environment-conscious and socially aware. The products are indeed a bit wonky, come in different colours and are occasionally on the small side – qualities which most of us would regard as unattractive, so that we wouldn’t necessarily make them our first choice. However, these products are perfectly alright and indeed edible. In fact, quite often they get thrown away unnecessarily.
The supermarket giant actually started its first wonky fruit campaign a while ago, in 2013, when it wanted to encourage more sustainability and social responsibility. However, the sale of wonky fruit and veg isn’t Tesco’s only project on this issue. The group has generally been working hard to achieve a marked reduction in its 50,000 tonnes of food waste, created annually by its stores. According to Tesco’s own estimates, 30,000 tonnes of this total is still edible. Working together with the FareShare FoodCloud network, any surplus food that cannot be sold at a supermarket is given to local charities.
The new product range is Tesco’s response to a global trend which has been at the focus of the packaging industry for several years now. According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost each year.
France has even taken this one step further. It is the first country in the world where, since February 2016, all large supermarkets with a sales space of over 400 square metres are under a legal obligation to give away any unsold food that is close to or past its sell-by date. Photo: Consommateurs au supermarché Luc Legay / flickr.com
Well protected – thanks to the right packaging
The most basic function of any packaging is to protect the product it contains. And this is something it has done quite reliably for over 5,000 years, regardless of the material. Yet today’s innovative packaging clearly goes one step further. So-called active packaging, for instance, regulates the level of humidity within the packaging, thus preventing the formation of germs. Integrated absorbers can neutralise undesirable putrefaction gases, and intelligent nano-sensors on the packaging can even indicate whether the product is still fresh and edible.
Love Food – Hate Waste: A campaign by the UK supermarket chain Asda against food waste