Food waste, ‘pretty’ produce and the Spinneys shopper

How we can all do our bit for sustainability

Food waste is an issue that concerns us all. In a single year one third of the world’s food – approximately 1.3bn tonnes – is wasted, most of which is fruit and vegetables (up to 50 per cent, in fact). This is a direct result of certain farming practices, where more crops are grown than are needed to err on the side of caution and ensure quotas are filled. There can also be a lack of employee training in the production process with regards to the proper safety methods for handling food, ultimately leading to excess waste.

The amount of food going to waste is also largely affected by how we, the consumers, attribute value to produce. A high volume of fruit and vegetables fail to make it onto our shelves because they don’t quite look the part, despite their nutritional content (and taste!) being just as good as slightly prettier produce.

Waste in the UAE and what’s being done about it

In the UAE, it’s estimated that the average person wastes double that of individuals in Europe – an amount that increases during Ramadan. This prompted His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to set up a UAE food bank that takes leftover food from restaurants and supermarkets and circulates it to those in need at a local and regional level (the aim being that Dubai will be the first emirate to achieve zero food waste).

So what are we doing... and what can you do?

To minimise waste at farm level, we believe it's important to work with producers we know and trust. Our local producers are part of the Spinneys Farmers Club, which focuses on sustainable food production practices; all fruit and vegetables in store are fully traceable. We were also the first retailer in the Middle East to collaborate with Global GAP, an organisation committed to driving safe agricultural methods in a move towards a more environmentally friendly global market.

This year we also launched a new range of misshapen fruit and veg – we're passionate about making sure nothing goes to waste, which is why our 'naturally imperfect' selection is something we're proud of. So the next time you spot fruit and veg that’s a little different, give it a chance.

Trying to reduce waste at home? We’ve got a few easy tips just for you.