‘Shocking’ amount of fruit and veg wasted, researchers say
Researchers examined how much food is discarded within the European Economic Area each year.
More than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never makes it on to shop shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, according to research.
A university study estimated that over 50 million tonnes of fresh produce grown across Europe is discarded annually, mainly because it does not meet supermarkets’ and consumers’ standards of how it ought to look.
In the UK, the figure stands at up to 4.5 million tonnes, the team suggests.
The research paper described food loss and waste (FLW) as “one of the great scourges of our time”, when 10% of the world’s population is chronically hungry.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who examined how much food is discarded within the European Economic Area (EEA) each year before it reaches the point of sale.
Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste Stephen Porter, University of Edinburgh
Their findings stated: “The use of aesthetics for classifying and accepting fresh food for sale and consumption is built into food quality standards and regulations of the European Union.
“The food distribution sector in Europe and the UK is oligopolistic in nature; a small number of supermarket chains control a large market share. The influence of these ‘multiples’ enables them to impose additional proprietary ‘quality’ criteria.