• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

German retailers embrace ugly fruit

AFP/The Local · 13 Oct 2013, 10:28

Published: 13 Oct 2013 10:28 GMT+02:00

Normally the crooked veggies would end up thrown away or as animal feed, because consumers "buy with their eyes too, and have gotten used to certain norms" of shape and colour, said Gernot Kasel, a spokesman for Germany's number one retailer by market share.

Branded "nobody is perfect", the ill-proportioned apples, potatoes and carrot sell cheaper than their "normal" counterparts.

Swiss market-leader Coop entered similar new ground in August with a range called "Unique", on offer in about a third of its stores.

After blemished apricots and freckled cauliflowers, these days three-legged carrots are vying for buyers' favours, said Coop spokeswoman Nadja Ruch.

They are priced about 60 percent cheaper than "first-class" carrots, she said.

"There would be scope for selling many more of these products, as demand has certainly exceeded our hopes", said Ruch. But there is simply no more supply of these "moods of nature", as Coop likes to refer to them.

German retailer Rewe launched its own "Wunderling" range last week in its Austrian stores. The name is a cross between the words 'anomaly' and 'miracle'.

British retail giant Sainsbury's had paved the way last year. Adverse weather conditions translated into a dramatic drop in the country's fruit and vegetables production, and a high rate of misshapen and damaged goods.

Sainsbury's nevertheless committed to buying all the output, including ugly specimens. They found their way onto the shelves or as ingredients in ready-made meals or pastries.

For retailer Rewe entering that market "isn't a decision based on economic considerations", the company said.

It sees the project, which will be extended to other markets if the Austrian experiment is a success, as "a concrete step against the food waste culture".

According to recent figures by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, over a billion tons of food is thrown away each year, costing the world about 750 billion dollars.

Environmental and anti-poverty groups have long highlighted the problem, and 2014 has been labelled the "European Year against Food Waste" by the European Union.

With their ugly fruit and veg action, Edeka, Coop and the others have clearly embraced a trend.

The products "are optimal in quality and taste", says Rewe.

In many markets, quality, taste and origin are increasingly important in purchase decisions. That's the case in Germany for instance, where taste ranks as number one buying criteria for food, ahead of price, according to a study by Ipsos institute.

From a producers' perspective, however, getting rid of unsightly products is a concern "of secondary importance", said Jochen Winkhoff, who is in charge of vegetables at Germany's farmers' association Bauernverband.

Nonetheless, growers welcome the new market for their flawed pieces of fruit and vegetable, especially if the arrival of strange-looking potatoes and zucchinis on supermarkets shelves "raises real questions about nature" for the consumers.

But farmers still want to hold on to strict norms in their dealings with

retailers.

Story continues below…

"They make total sense", said Winkhoff, "for instance when setting prices".

"Nowadays every deal is done on the phone or over the internet, and the

parties have to be sure they talk about the same thing", he added.

A number of EU norms, notably the much-mocked cucumber-curve norm, were

abandoned in 2008.

The overwhelming majority of professionals still apply norms drawn up by United Nations body Unece.

These specify for instance that brown stains on a apricot shouldn't exceed 15 percent of its surface. And a zucchini has to be at least 7 centimetres long, as well as "free of cavities and splits".

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany to tighten checks of soldiers amid jihadist fears
Photo: DPA.

The German army are planning stricter checks of their soldiers as officials fear that jihadists could be using the armed forces as a way to train.

New train line to cut 2 hours off Berlin-Munich trips
Photo: DPA

It has been 25 years in the making, but on Wednesday the rail line that is set to mark a new era for travel between Germany's capital and its economic powerhouse went live.

AfD leader attacked and beaten in Mainz
Uwe Junge. Photo: DPA

The leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Rhineland-Palatinate was attacked on the street on Tuesday evening by a group of young men.

100 flights cancelled due to Frankfurt airport security alert
Travelers being evacuated from Terminal 1 of Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: Some 100 flights were cancelled on Wednesday at Frankfurt Airport after the major transfer hub went on alert because a woman had managed to evade security checks.

Record 125k people file suit against Canada trade deal
A leader of one of the groups opposing the trade deal stacks another box full of lawsuit documents, presented to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. Photo: DPA.

More than 125,000 Germans have filed the largest citizen lawsuit in German history against the controversial proposed CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU.

Merkel: 'Germany will remain Germany'
Photo: DPA.

One year after Angela Merkel first declared "we can do this," leading to a huge uptick in refugees applying for asylum, the Chancellor reflected this week on her policies and the future of Germany.

Nazi beach resort ruin turned into luxury playground
Prora. Photo: DPA

One of the biggest relics left behind by the Nazis is undergoing a radical transformation on a German island, harnessing a property boom to become a luxury tourist destination.

Berlin plans to be first state to arm police with tasers
Photo: DPA.

Berlin's plans to arm police patrols with taser guns would make it the first German state to implement extensive use of the electroshock weapon.

Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
7,389
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd