Supermarkets to stock misshapen fruit amid drought

iStock image

Two supermarket chains will stock bent carrots and other misshapen fruit and vegetables on their shelves in an effort to support farmers hit by drought after a heatwave.

Normally such produce would not make the grade.

But discounter Lidl and upmarket retailer Waitrose said they would relax size and shape guidelines for fruit and vegetables affected by the drought. The move will also help tackle food waste.

“Whilst the crop coming out may look and feel a bit different to what we’re all used to, it’s still the same great British quality,” Lidl GB Chief Executive Ryan McDonnell said in a statement.

The steps should help farmers make up for any shortfall in overall yields due to dry weather and low rainfall.

Large parts of England are officially in a drought for the first time since 2018 following the driest summer for 50 years, forcing water companies to restrict water usage to safeguard supplies.

Waitrose said its latest efforts were part of an existing programme to sell misshapen vegetables in an effort to reduce food waste.

A University of Edinburgh study in 2018 estimated a third of fruit and vegetable produce across Europe never reaches supermarket shelves because it fails to meet appearance standards, leading to more than 50 million tonnes of food waste each year.

Waitrose also said it would divert millions of carrots and other misshapen vegetables into its own label soups, ready meals and smoothies.