8 in 10 Singaporeans will avoid buying ‘ugly’ fruits, vegetables: Survey

WONG CASANDRA Today Online 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — When buying groceries, would you pass over a dented apple or a slightly browned banana?

If your answer is yes, you are among the majority, going by the findings of a survey on “ugly food” — food that does not look appealing for consumption.

Eight out of 10 Singaporean respondents surveyed by Electrolux said they would typically only buy fruits and vegetables that look fresh and good.

More than half (52 per cent) of the 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed plainly admitted they would not buy “bruised, discoloured or misshapen” fruits and vegetables, and a quarter said they wouldn’t even eat it.

This is even as over 60 per cent said they are aware that in doing so, they are contributing to food waste in Singapore.

When asked about their attitudes toward knowingly wasting food, 20 per cent were indifferent or don’t care. Those in the 18 to 24 age group were most indifferent at about 25 per cent.

In the last decade, food waste increased 1.5 times (48 per cent) from 531,500 tonnes in 2005 to 785,500 tonnes in 2015, according to figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

But, as a pragmatic lot, 65 per cent of respondents said they will use “ugly food” in their daily meals if they are cheaper than “perfect-looking” food.

The 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed were aged between 18 to 65 years old. The inaugural Ugly Food Survey was commissioned in September and respondents had to answer multiple-choice questions on food purchase habits and choices, awareness on food waste, and acceptance towards ugly food.

The survey is part of the Electrolux’s #happyplateSG community initiative, which was launched last year to raise awareness on food waste. This year’s #UglyIsTheNewGood campaign, in partnership with The Food Bank Singapore, is focused on getting consumers to accept “ugly food” so as to reduce food waste from the early stages.

Ms Nichol Ng, Chief Food Officer of The Food Bank Singapore said: “Ugly food is one of contributing factors to food waste that has not been widely explored and discussed. It is time for us to take an active stand on reducing food waste from all stages of the food supply chain cycle.”

Mr Kenneth Ng, President and CEO, Electrolux Major Appliances Asia Pacific added: “This year, we decided to focus on ugly food in Singapore because 46 per cent of fruits and vegetables never make it from the farm to fork as they are not the right shape or colour... Ugly food can taste just as good as perfect-looking food and is as nutritious.”

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