Fruit and Veg

Source: Lidl

Lidl aims to identify key crop challenges and where possible accommodate stunted crop and other products within existing lines

Lidl GB and Waitrose have both introduced greater flexibility to their fruit & veg specifications in a bid to cut down on food waste and support farmers impacted by the UK’s hottest and driest summer in half a century.

Lidl’s move would see it commit to selling what was becoming a “growing quantity” of stunted and weather-impacted crops, with a new “flexible approach” to sourcing. Waitrose, meanwhile, has “pledged to take all shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables over the coming months”.

The discounter said today it had written to all of its fresh produce suppliers in Britain to offer support and to look for ways to ensure British produce was not being wasted. It added its aim was to identify key crop challenges and where possible accommodate stunted crop and other products within existing lines.

Lidl also stressed it didn’t want to create a “false market” for specific branded wonky veg via the initiative, and instead wanted to “work collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure that we are flexible with variations in specifications at different times of the year”.

“Through this approach, Lidl will help to prevent perfectly good, quality produce from going to waste because of variations in specifications, for example a different size to what shoppers are typically used to,” the retailer said.

Farmers across the country are facing a big challenge this year due to the extreme weather conditions experienced over the summer months,” added Ryan McDonnell, Lidl GB CEO.

“Whilst the crop coming out may look and feel a bit different to what we’re all used to, it’s still the same great British quality. We therefore want to show support for our suppliers by working with them to find solutions to help.”

McDonnell said that “now, more than ever, it’s critical that we and the rest of the sector get behind our suppliers”, before urging other supermarkets to do the same.

Lidl’s announcement was swiftly followed by similar move by Waitrose this morning, which announced an expansion of its ’A Little Less Than Perfect Range’ to include all shapes and sizes of fresh produce.

The upmarket retailer said it would relax size and shape guidelines for all new season potatoes, carrots, strawberries, apples, pears and peppers, as part of the revamped range.

The supermarket also said it will divert millions of units of wonky carrots and other misshapen vegetables into its own label soups, ready meals, smoothies.

“Many of our UK suppliers have managed through the drought thanks to back up water supplies from reservoirs or rain water capture systems so we’ve focused our efforts on those that need the most help,” said Paul Bidwell, fresh produce buyer at Waitrose.

“What’s in store may look a bit different at times but it will always represent the same great quality, taste and high standards our customers are used to.”