NTUC FairPrice: Blemished Fruits and Veggies Taste the Same as Good Ones

Ronald Liew had been given a simple enough task – To take out five “bad” oranges and set them aside.

On the other hand, Yen Chen had been given the completely opposite thing to do. She had to sort out five of the best oranges from the same pile – and then set them apart from the rest.

Great Taste Less Waste initiative by NTUC FairPrice.

The Great Taste Less Waste initiative by NTUC FairPrice.

Both of them quickly sorted the oranges… and then immediately after they had done so, the citrus fruits were made into juice. Liew and Chen were then asked to try the juice from both oranges – in a blind taste test. They were then asked to vote for which juice they thought, tasted nicer.

The fruit is not bad just because of a few blemishes

To his own surprise, Liew found that he had preferred the juice from the so-called “bad” oranges. Liew, a CEO in the food supply industry, sheepishly admitted, “Previously I would think that the fruit is bad because of a few little blemishes. But it is good after all – when I cast my vote, I simply went according to my taste.”

Blemished fruits and veggies are packaged and sold at reduced prices.

Blemished fruits and veggies are packaged and sold at reduced prices.

On the other hand, Chen, a Lecturer in Food & Nutrition, didn’t see any difference at all, between the juices coming from both sets of oranges. She said, “The taste of the orange juice was exactly the same, to me.”

“Great Taste Less Waste Selection” initiative by NTUC FairPrice

A curious shopper checks out the blemished fruits.

A curious shopper checking out the blemished fruits.

Liew and Chen had been a part of the “Great Taste Less Waste Selection” initiative organised by NTUC FairPrice – which is aimed at educating consumers to reduce their food wastage. And both of them certainly appear to have been sold – over the fact that slightly blemished fruits and vegetables do indeed taste just as good as normal ones.

Said Liew, “This was a good session today and I think I would start buying blemished fruits and vegetables.”

Agreed Chen, “I think that events such as today’s are really helpful and they should be good to disseminate the message that imperfection does not mean worse quality. They are just as good.”

Wholesome fruits and veggies with slight blemishes to be repackaged

Under the “Great Taste Less Waste Selection” initiative, wholesome fruits and vegetables with slight blemishes will be cut into smaller pieces and repackaged to be sold at marked down prices – this is currently available at all seven of the FairPrice Xtra stores around Singapore.

FairPrice’s Food Waste Index

At the same time, FairPrice has also just developed a Food Waste Index – derived from a consultative and analytical study over the past two years, which is a first in the Singapore supermarket industry. The latest FairPrice Food Waste Index stands at 11.9 kilograms per square meter (in 2014) – derived from total food waste over total retail space. The total amount of food waste in FairPrice for that year was 2,200 tonnes, equivalent to 88 garbage trucks. This, however, makes up only 0.3 per cent of the total food waste generated over the same period, in Singapore.

Said Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, “As a socially responsible retailer, FairPrice looks to lead by example by doing our part to reduce food wastage. We have developed a comprehensive Food Waste Framework that will be tracked by the Food Waste Index.

Blemished bananas make great Banana Cupcakes.

Blemished bananas make great Banana Cupcakes.

“This allows us to take a more structured and sustainable approach to tackle the issue of food waste, on multiple fronts. We also encourage our customers to join us in our efforts to reduce waste and together, help contribute towards a more sustainable environment,” he continued.

Allow FairPrice to track its progress on food waste reduction initiatives

The Food Waste Index will allow FairPrice to track its progress on food waste reduction initiatives under the Food Waste Framework. This  aims to reduce food waste at supermarkets through selling the leftover blemished fruits and vegetables at marked down prices and creating greater awareness of food waste amongst the public. FairPrice will also be donating unsold but still wholesome canned foods to charities such as Food From The Heart – a non-profit organisation that delivers food to the needy.

Fruit Tarts are another great way to prepare blemished fruits.

Fruit Tarts are another great way to prepare blemished fruits for consumption.

FairPrice’s efforts appear to be in good stead

And FairPrice’s efforts appear to be in good stead. For example, at the FairPrice NEX store, shopper Gerald Tay, 66, had been rather intrigued by the repackaged blemished fruits and vegetables and had been seen looking inquisitively at them at the supermarket.

Said the retiree, “Besides the lower cost, the repackaged fruits are eye-catching and wholesome. It’s very good for people in small families who may want to buy the full range of fruits and veggies – but don’t wish to purchase large quantities. The pre-cut fruits and veggies are also good for busy people as it will save their time in terms of the cutting.”

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