Routine destruction of off-spec food

This is disgusting. The wastage; the pandering to an ignorant population, and the vicious circle that results:

“The staff are busy sorting out the saleable onions from the unsaleable and the thing that makes the crucial difference is the outer layer of brown. The inside is still fine and the onions are firm, heavy and not soft. However supermarkets will not accept onions unless they have the outer layer of skin on (which we usually remove when we cook with them).

…since Valencia oranges are the only ones that turn green as sunscreen many people assume that Valencies aren’t ripe unless they are orange.

…two semi trailer’s worth or 40 tonnes of melons are discarded a day – and this is just from one producer in one region!

…have you noticed that in the last few years, those long watermelons with the black pips from our childhood have disappeared and there are now only those round, seedless watermelons? That’s because the stores say that consumers don’t want watermelons with seeds anymore and the same goes for grapes. The long seeded watermelons still have to be grown because these are the male watermelons while the rounded ones are females. […] They can’t sell them and they are ready at an earlier time than the round seedless watermelons so they just stay in the field unpicked.


6 thoughts on “Routine destruction of off-spec food

  1. It’s amazing and disgusting. Food retail is an awful state with groceries coming half way around the world (Coles “fresh baked bread” flown frozen from Ireland…) from wherever the cheapest place may be regardless of labour laws or environmental impact. If you shop at a supermarket you end up with bags of waste packaging and in Australia farmers are beholden to the two big chains.

    Related to all this almost a third of global food production is wasted:

    Guess we all should eat and shop local.

    • Thanks Justin. I’m dismayed to read about this kind of stuff. I hate wasting food, but it seems there’s a whole industry of waste behind whatever food makes it to the supermarket. It also puts a lie to the broader economic discussion regarding the efficiencies of the free market in Australia, and the supposed concern for our agricultural industry. Woolworths and Coles are able to talk up ‘fresh food’ and bring in celebrity chefs to teach people how to cook good food, but they can’t teach people that Valencia oranges look a bit green even when they’re ripe? *sigh* Gotta write something on this…

  2. One wonders why there isn’t more of a market for the ‘seconds’. Just across from – and hence successfully competing with – our local Coles is a place doing just that. They are well patronised (including by us), despite accepting cash only.

      • Or maybe alternative thinking cannot compete with Wesfarmers and Woolworths’ ad spend.

        I think you give retailers and consumers a hard time. I do not think they are ignorant of the waste, but adhering to a particular ethos. Efficiency in production does not factor into contemporary consumerism, where it is considered a sign of advancement to be able to consume an ever higher standard of goods and services.

        • Well I at least was ignorant, not only of the waste but of the rationale (like not knowing that ripe Valencia oranges appear green). There’s nothing rational about discarding the ripe fruit on the basis of a misunderstanding. If we only ever buy from supermarkets, we wouldn’t even know that there was such a thing as a ripe green Valencia. I may be giving them a hard time, but ‘with great market-share comes great responsibility’.

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