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Lidl to accept farmer’s ‘wonky veg’ to reduce food waste as drought impacts crop quality

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Discount supermarket chain Lidl has announced new measures to support British farmers who supply its fresh fruit and vegetable produces as growers face stunted crops due to the hottest and driest weather seen in half a century.

The retailer has written to all of its British fresh produce suppliers to offer support and look for ways to ensure that high quality British crops are not going to waste.

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The supermarket says it will work closely with suppliers to identify key crop challenges, and where possible work to accommodate these products within its existing lines.

Lidl say that through this flexible approach, the supermarket 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.

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

“Lidl is built on the foundation of making good food accessible and affordable to everyone, and our fresh produce range is key to achieving this.

“Whilst some supermarkets have chosen to create a separate ‘wonky veg’ label for items that don’t quite fit a certain specification, we don’t believe in a creating a false market.

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“Instead, we have always strived to work collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure that we are flexible with variations in specifications at different times of the year.

“However, now, more than ever, it’s critical that we and the rest of the sector get behind our suppliers. That’s why we have written to all of our British fresh produce suppliers, and I would urge other supermarkets to do the same, so that together we can ensure that perfectly good produce isn’t going to waste.”

Lidl has also committed to funding and implementing 10 whole chain food waste projects by 2025 to work with suppliers to find further solutions to reducing waste and creating additional value in the supply chain.

The supermarket says that this builds on its initiatives to tackle food waste throughout the supply chain. The discounter was one of the first supermarkets to sign the NFU Fruit and Veg Pledge in 2016, underlining a commitment to help work in a sustainable way with all growers.

For customers, Lidl launched its Too Good to Waste boxes in 2019 to help tackle in-store food waste. Priced at just £1.50 for approximately 5kg, the boxes contain fruit and vegetables from the store shelves that would have otherwise been thrown away but are still perfectly food to eat. They are put together daily by the discounter’s dedicated in-store Freshness Specialists and are available whilst stocks last.

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(Lead image: Lidl)

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