Ugly fruit and veg is sales sensation

Ugly carrot - Photo: Intermarche

Supermarket sells odd-shaped produce at 30% discount and turns oddities into soup and juice

A FRENCH supermarket is giving ugly fruit and veg a new lease of life by selling it 30% cheaper than the “beautiful” products ... and turning it into its own-brand range of soups and juices.

Sold under the name Les Fruits & Légumes Moches (Ugly Fruit and Veg), the Intermarché range has proved a hit with customers, with an average of 1.2tonnes of otherwise unsellable fruit and veg being sold in the first two days after it was launched in a store at Provins, outside Paris.

The sales success of two-legged carrots, bumpy oranges and odd-shaped apples has prompted the company to extend the range across France with a week-long sales campaign in its 1,800 shops in mid-October. It will be run alongside the anti-food waste Gaspillage Alimentaire day of action on October 16.

In all, about 30% of food produced is thrown away in France and 40% of the total fruit and veg production is not right for supermarket sale ... until Intermarché came up with the idea as a way of avoiding waste and also to help local producers who had had problems.

A company spokeswoman said: “Most of the fruit and veg isn’t ugly, it’s just not right for sale – perhaps too small or too large or with a blemish on the skin. Perfectly edible but not a good-looking product. Rather than throw food away we looked for a way to continue to sell it and decided to offer it at a discount.

“We were absolutely stunned at the response. Shoppers asked when it would be extended elsewhere but as we are an independent store company - each shop is owned and run by its owner but under the Intermarché label – they had to see that it could work.

“But then they started seeing ways it could work for them. A local farmer could come in and say his crop of cabbages, for instance, had been hit by the weather and they were too small – now the shop can offer to buy the cabbages at a reduced price and offer them in the Les Fruits & Légumes Moches section. Everyone benefits.

“There’s no way that it can run on a regular basis, however. It cannot be planned and we could not encourage producers not to give us the best possible fruit and veg. That would be paradoxical, it can only be on occasion when there is a particular problem.

“We started to offer the soup and fruit juice as a special in-house promotion and people really liked that, too, and now we hope more shops will offer it. However, so far there are only a few items – oranges, carrots, aubergines and apples – so it’s not enough to be a big thing.”

Since Intermarché started its ugly fruit and veg other supermarkets like Leclerc, Auchan and Monoprix have joined in – giving food producers and customers a good deal more.

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