loose fruit and veg

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More than a third of the 16 to 34-year-old category said they would be put off buying imperfect fresh fruit and vegetables

Young people are lagging behind their older peers when it comes to embracing more sustainable shopping habits, despite the surge in environmental concern among them, according to a new survey.

The polling, commissioned by leading surplus food redistributor Company Shop Group, shows that while less than one in 10 older people (55 plus) would be put off by wonky vegetables, of the 16 to 34-year-old category more than a third (39%) would be put off buying imperfect fresh fruit and vegetables.

When asked if they would be put off buying products not in branded packaging, one in three young people (33%) said they would be, compared to only one in 10 of the older generation (11%).

Company Shop said the 1,000-strong poll’s findings matched a steep increase in the amount of surplus food it was selling in unbranded packaging to its members, who have an average age of 45.

Read more: Bidfood survey suggests ‘shocking’ food waste by millennials

When it came to buying chilled food with a short shelf life, which could be frozen or used immediately to prevent waste, half of all respondents across all age ranges (50%) said they avoided products which are reaching their use-by date.

“This fascinating research shows that while there is a shift happening in the consumer habits of older generations, the admirable environmentalism of young adults today isn’t yet translating into what they are buying at the supermarket,” said group managing director Jane Marren.

“With education and empowerment we hope to see a marked change in years to come. There will always be a certain amount of food surplus and waste created by the food industry and by consumers, and we will continue to work hard with our retail and manufacturing partners to address that.”

The findings were released in the week that Company Shop Group was awarded the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development, recognising the work it is doing to stop food going to waste in the supply chain.

It handled more than 70 million items of surplus stock in 2018 alone and works with all the major retailers and manufacturers to tackle supply chain challenges in their operations.