Our obsession with “perfect” looking and size fruits and vegetables has led to an increase in the food waste scene. These are often termed as Ugly Food as they do not look appetizing enough to be bought by consumers or served by restaurants.
How bad is the Situation?
In Singapore alone, a study concluded that 83% of consumers will only purchase fruits and vegetables that looked good and fresh - leading to local supermarkets facing the pressure to only display and sell these perfect-looking food.
It is not uncommon for people to have the misconception that ugly food is not fresh or taste as good - leading to increased food waste from ugly food alone.
What Can You Do As a Commercial Business?
For supermarkets, ugly food should not be thrown away once sighted. 65% of surveyees from a survey indicated that they are willing to purchase ugly produce at a lower price. Supermarkets can have a section for ugly produce and also include pep talk signs such as “You are Great! Pick Ugly Produce” to boost the self-esteem of consumers and encourage them to purchase these ugly food.
For hotel chains, restaurants or anyone with a commercial kitchen, you can take inspiration from Plentyfull restaurant in Millenia Walk mall as they work with The Food Bank Singapore to work on a campaign on using ugly food to prepare their dishes. To further encourage these consumers to order the food, markdowns can first be introduced to decrease the barriers for consumers.
As huge commercial kitchen, the amount of produce ordered into your kitchen is huge - if it is too difficult to work with ugly food and serving up to your consumers now, you can work with ugly food distributors such as The Food Bank Singapore to donate your produce to them to reduce food waste!
What Can You Do As a Consumer?
As a consumer, you can start small by buying ugly produce from your local supermarket chains - start small and slowly work your way up - you will realize it is really not as bad as you thought it was! Any small change in your purchasing behaviour will better the food waste situation in Singapore.
If you are in Singapore, you can even join a local group supporting this cause - whereby they go around visiting market vendors and asking them for the produce they do not want, and donate these produce that you collected!
Beauty is Only Skin Deep.
Just because these ugly food do not look as good, it does not mean it has lost its nutritional value.
This can be further proven by the various blind taste-test experiments conducted where consumers were served the final dish but it was unknown to them that the ingredients used were ugly food - debunking their misconceptions that ugly food does not taste as good or is not as nutritious.
By making small changes in our lives such as changing our mindset about ugly food, we can reduce the food waste in Singapore and help make our world a more livable one!