Shoppers in the US and Europe are open to buying imperfect fruit and vegetables, but most expect a discount to incentivise them.
That’s the principal finding of a new survey from predictive analytics provider Blue Yonder.
Many major supermarkets have responded to pressures to reduce waste by embracing so-called ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables, with Tesco recently announcing a rollout of its misshapen produce across Europe.
Blue Yonder’s research – conducted among 2,000 shoppers in the UK, US, France and Germany – found that almost three-quarters (73%) are open to buying fresh produce that have natural flaws in them, but 90% said that they expected retailers to charge less than they would for regular fruit.
Consumers in France were the most accepting of misshapen produce of the four countries surveyed – 93% said they would pick up ugly produce in store if there was an available discount. France has been campaigning for sales of wonky vegetables for a number of years; back in 2014 France’s third largest supermarket chain, Intermarché, launched a campaign to sell ugly produce and tackle the food waste problem.
The UK fell farthest behind; less than half of British consumers said they would buy wonky fruit and vegetables, regardless of whether there was a discount.
Old British men are least likely to purchase wonky fruit and vegetables.
Online shoppers were 30% less likely to buy misshapen produce than consumers shopping in physical stores, while more than a fifth of respondents expected a discount of at least 50% in order to be incentivised to give ugly fruit and vegetables a chance.
Older generations are much less likely to buy imperfect vegetables than their younger counterparts, and men are slightly less likely than women.
That means that – taking all of Blue Yonder’s metrics at face value – old British men are least likely to purchase wonky fruit and vegetables.
Global uptake of wonky fruit and veg has serious implications for the industry’s track record on food waste.
Matt Hopkins, retail industry director for Blue Yonder, said: “Discounting imperfect produce helps overcome the waste problem in the supply chain. However, for it to have a real impact on waste reduction, retailers need to understand what demand will be for products – wonky or not – to accurately stock the right amount of ‘imperfect’ versus ‘perfect’ fruit and vegetables.
“It would be pointless to reduce waste in the supply chain, only to see retailers having to throw it away from supermarket and distribution centre shelves.
“The findings also indicate that accurate markdown pricing is needed to successfully sell imperfect fruit and vegetables. Pricing ‘imperfect fruit and veg’ versus ‘perfect fruit and veg’ will add to the complexity and number of decisions in a world where grocery is already struggling to keep pace. The use of advanced machine learning algorithms for the best decisions, delivered daily, is important for survival and success.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019