Much of the discussion around reducing food waste has focused on the individual household consumer – after purchasing food at the supermarket. An important avenue for addressing the problem lies, indeed, with supermarkets themselves. Supermarkets have strict cosmetic standards about what they will accept from their growers and suppliers. Farmers know that fruit and vegetables that do not conform in size, shape, and colour – even if perfectly good to eat – will not be accepted by the supermarkets. In turn, supermarkets also lay the “blame” on picky consumers. (The power of supermarkets in dictating terms in their contracts with growers is for another blog post.)
The French supermarket chain Intermarché has designed an interesting and successful campaign against food waste. It is designed to raise awareness among consumers and to provide an outlet for food that would otherwise be thrown out before getting to the farm gate. Using a multi-pronged marketing approach (including cheaper prices, special branding, and recipe and product development), Intermarché is showing that even an ugly carrot can be a beautiful thing. You can also learn more about the European Year against Food Waste here.