If your tomato isn’t Instagram-worthy, does that mean it deserves to be thrown away? A recent UK study reported that up to 40% of edible, but “ugly” produce—fruits and vegetables that do not meet retailers’ aesthetic standards on size, shape, and look—is often used for animal feed or simply tossed out. That adds up to 15 million tons of wasted food every year, despite the fact that 5 million UK residents live in poverty.
Commissioned by the UK’s global food security program, the report showed that the majority of food waste stems from consumption and initial production. UK households are to blame for throwing away a fifth of the food that they buy; two-thirds of that waste is avoidable. The amount of food wasted annually can rack up an average yearly cost of £480 per household and £680 per family.
The report was conducted to help uncover the causes behind food waste and research new ways that waste can be reduced. Around a third of food produced globally is needlessly lost or thrown away. By reducing the scale of losses, this enormous amount of food could be better used to fight the universal problem of hunger, which affects one in eight people worldwide.
Retailers began imposing stringent quality standards on their produce in response to consumers’ increasing demands for higher quality, picture-perfect fruits and vegetables. Due to increasing food prices and sustainability concerns, however, the report has also found that there is a growing trend where UK consumers are more willing to accept “ugly” produce.
Via The Guardian