Grocers could be needlessly rejecting ugly-looking fresh produce when there is money to be made from bent carrots and disfigured potatoes, research from Mintel has indicated.

Mintel’s Fruit and Vegetables UK 2014 report found 48% of people who bought fruit and vegetables agreed they would buy oddly shaped products if they were of good quality.

More than 56% of adults said retailers should do more to reduce the amount of food they threw away. And 28% said they were concerned about the amount of fruit or vegetables they wasted.

Kiti Soininen, head of UK food, drink & foodservice Research at Mintel, said: “It is clear that consumers are open to ‘ugly’ produce, but where oddly shaped fruit and veg sits with mainstream offerings, it is at risk of going unchosen, even if subconsciously.”

The fact half of consumers would buy good quality oddly shaped fruit and veg, and the recent focus on food waste and the grocers’ role in curbing it showed there was scope to actively use the non-standard quality of produce as a selling point, she said.

“Prices come across as a real consideration for many and by positioning ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables as a tasty, low-cost option should help the grocers to reach this group,” Soininen added.

Other finding in Mintel’s research showed 93% of all Britons bought fresh fruit weekly and 90% bought fresh vegetables. Some 10% said they could afford to buy more fresh fruit and vegetables today compared with a year ago.

Mintel said the combined fruit and vegetable market in the UK, including potatoes, stood at an estimated £16bn, up from just under £14bn in 2009.

Sales were forecast to climb to almost £19bn by 2019, driven by inflation.