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Educate customers on food waste, Tesco says
FUSSY customers who reject misshapen fruit and vegetables need to be educated about food waste, Tesco has told MPs.
The supermarket said "wonky" produce often ends up in the bin, despite it being fine to eat, because customers will only take the "cream of the crop".
Matt Simister, food sourcing director at Tesco, told the House of Lords European Union sub-committee on agriculture that it was looking at options to salvage the unwanted vegetables, including putting it into its value range and into food service.
But he said customers needed to be educated about waste and fresh food.
"Customers naturally select, they always pick the cream of crop first and the rest of it then gets left," he said.
"Then the new deliveries come in and you have the new cream of the crop - with the old, ugly, misshapen, left and it goes to waste.
"Customers will always make the choice of the one that looks cosmetically better. That's a very difficult reality to us."
He compared UK shopping habits to those in eastern Europe where shoppers are happy to buy produce which is not "cosmetically" pleasing.
EU rules on misshapen fruit and vegetables were relaxed in 2009 but supermarkets still maintain their own product standards.
Representatives from Tesco, Waitrose and the waste industry have been giving evidence to the inquiry into food waste prevention.
Earlier this year Tesco announced it was dropping some food promotions after finding that two-thirds of produce grown for bagged salad is wasted.
It published food waste figures for its operations for the first time, revealing that 68 per cent of salad to be sold in bags is thrown out - 35 per cent of it in the home.
As a result of the findings, it said it would end multi-buys on large bags of salad and is developing mix-and-match promotions for smaller bags in a bid to help customers reduce the amount they are wasting.
It has also moved to a "one date" system to stop customer confusion between display dates and use-by dates.
How much food do you throw away every week? Have your say below.
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