Ugly Fruit And Veg Could Be Saved By Social Media
July 23, 2014

Ugly Fruit And Veg Could Be Saved By Social Media

As someone who once worked on a carrot farm and has known the heartbreak of throwing perfectly healthy and tasty carrots away just because they didn’t quite look like they should, I have long known about the sad fate of fruit and vegetables that will never be eaten just because of their appearance. Now, a French supermarket is finding that they are not as repellent to customers as we assume, and social media is helping to spread the news across the world.

As the above video from the French supermarket chain Intermarché points out, we are all encouraged to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, but that is not easy for many families. Such healthy food can be expensive, and so it seems a travesty to throw away 300 million tons of it a year worldwide. So Intermarché decided to launch their “Inglorious Fruits And Vegetables” campaign, in which the less handsome produce has its own aisle and is sold at a 30 percent discount, while those who judge on appearance alone can still get their perfect food an aisle down.

Rather than children running and screaming from the stores or chanting hurtful playground songs at the redeemed fruit and veg, customers have flocked to the aisle and run with the idea, as stores experienced sold out stock and a 24 percent increase in overall store traffic. No less healthy and no less edible, the fruits are now helping people get their daily quota. For those who want their helping at a discount, but can’t stand to look, there are fruit juices and soups that also proved to be popular.

An amusing marketing campaign that gives the produce personalities akin to a kids’ TV show or movie, such as the “Ridiculous Potato,” the “Hideous Orange,” and the poor “Grotesque Apple,” has helped to make the scheme be even more successful. This is all taking place in the European Union’s “2014 European Year Against Food Waste,” a less quirky, but no less important step towards reducing waste and improving health at the same time.

The video tells us towards the end that the Inglorious Fruit And Vegetables have gained worldwide fame as the idea took off on social networks and made it into the mainstream media. Since I wrote an article recently about “trending” — which questioned the merits and demerits of the phenomenon — I should make the point that if trending can spread a positive idea such as this, then that is a huge merit. When you think about it, it is a ridiculous concept that something as essential as fruit and veg can be discarded on the basis of its appearance, when being admired for its looks is quite simply not its purpose. Even for those who believe that a dish’s first bite is with the eye and in the presentation of pretty food, it should be borne in mind that most of the produce will not be served in its original form but will be chopped and diced. To use a phrase that is hugely prevalent on social media and was basically invented by it, ugly fruit and veg is very much a “first world problem.”

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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