Back to basics with ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables

By Judith Batchelar on 17 September 2014


We’ve been asked over recent weeks and months if we sell ‘ugly’ fruit and veg. Firstly I don’t think any of our produce is less appealing than any other, but the questions have prompted me to think about the times when we have decided to reduce the specification on the fresh produce we source so we can make the most of the crop when we’re hit with unseasonal weather.


Luckily for all of us, we’re not seeing the same bad weather conditions that we have done in recent years but, come rain or shine, some strawberries just don’t grow as big as the others, or an apple will naturally have a few blemishes.


I wouldn’t go as far as saying these are ‘ugly’, and I can assure you they share the taste of their picture-perfect counterparts, but their slight quirks mean they can be sold as part of our basics range, and by doing so we also help to reduce waste.


Our three own-label ranges - basics, by Sainsbury's and Taste the Difference - allow us to use fruit and veg from growers very efficiently and give our customers the choice to buy what they want. For instance, one orchard will produce apples that all taste fantastic, but if some were smaller than expected or an irregular shape they'd go into a 'basics' bag, while others that we know are the size and shape many customers would view as just right would go into the other ranges.


If you shop from our basics range of fruit and veg, you might not show them off in your fruit bowl or vegetable rack but the leeks are still good for soup, potatoes are perfect for mashing and strawberries will perk up a smoothie.


Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s brand. 

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2 comments for “Back to basics with ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables”

  • duncan ashcroft19 September 2014 at 19:57:31

    How many don't even make the basics bag? Too many still I'd guess. Can we see photos of the 'worst standard' that still makes the basics please. Boss of Arla feels this country has become disconnected from our food - he said this at the RWM show on Wednesday, recounting how his child niece was horrified by seeing carrots taken from the ground with soil on. We should appreciate the effort that goes into growing things, stop being spoilt and see it as sin-like to throw away and not eat edible food, whatever it looks like.

  • Judith Batchelar23 September 2014 at 09:01:20

    Hi Duncan - It is of interest to our growers and us to avoid waste within our fruit and vegetable supply chain which is why we work across our own brand tiers to utilise as much of the crop as possible. Where we can’t sell fruit and vegetables as fresh they will be used in further processed products such as mashed potato in shepherd’s pie or apple juice. By promoting produce that has blemishes or vary in size through our campaign such as ugly fruit and veg during the adverse weather in 2012 or 'Make Your Roast Go Further', which centred around meal inspiration using core ingredients, we're encouraging and inspiring our customers to reduce food waste and breakdown the barriers that can occur around the appearance of produce.


About the author

  • Judith BatchelarI am responsible for all our own brand products and help make Fairtrade part of the nation's everyday shopping habits.