For 66% of British consumers organic means natural, according to GlobalData’s global consumer survey from 2017 Q4, but this does not necessarily encourage consumers to actively purchase organic products.

A study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production created by a University of Edinburgh found more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe were discarded each year. This was due to strict government regulations, supermarkets’ high standards as well as customer expectations of how produce should look.

What can be done to tackle the issue of food waste, and how can organic claims help?

Imperfect fruit and vegetables are a perfect example of how organic claims and food waste reduction can work together. ‘Wonky’ or ‘ugly’ fruit and veg have been available for sale in UK supermarkets for a number of years; however organic claims are not necessarily used.

Together, wonky and organic provide proof of authenticity and slot easily into a broader consumer movement which prioritises tangible consumption ‘moments’. There are accounts such as Ugly Produce is Beautiful on Instagram where has over 48,000 followers and consists of beautiful images created with ‘ugly’ vegetables and fruits in hopes of changing perception of ugly produces.

The fight against food waste involves reversing the false aesthetic which drives waste at the production and processing phases and replaces it with an inclusive one which presents food at face value and encourages consumers to rediscover and engage with it. Organic can be a key factor for this, as the claim is heavily linked in consumers’ minds with being natural, and imperfection of fruits and vegetables align well with this.

The demand for organic food is certainly growing, even if the overall market is still small. The challenge for organic products will always be justifying the price to the consumers.  In the future, wonky vegetables and organic claims combined together could be the justification for authenticity and natural quality.

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