Majority of UK shoppers now likely to buy imperfect fruit and veg during their grocery shop
November 28th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Majority of UK shoppers now likely to buy imperfect fruit and veg during their grocery shop

Reasearch says ugly fruits and vegetables could help tackle food waste and supply shortages. But are UK consumers likely to purchase imperfect fresh produce? What motivates or deters them from considering flawed fruit or crooked carrots?

Overall, data reveals that more than three-quarters of UK adults (77%) say they are likely to purchase imperfect fruits or vegetables the next time they are in the market. Only 16% of respondents say they would avoid imperfect produce.

Individuals aged between 18 to 24 years are comparatively less likely to opt for imperfect produce, but still more than half (59%) show a positive inclination. The proportion of consumers who lean towards purchasing imperfect produce keeps increasing with age – 25-34 (69%), 35-44 (77%), 45-54 (79%) and 55+ (83%).

What motivates consumers to purchase imperfect fruits and vegetables?

A significant share of respondents who are likely to purchase imperfect produce (72%) cite lower price as a key influencer, emphasizing a cost-driven motivation. Additionally, 63% of respondents express a commitment to reducing food waste. Notably, convenience influences only 25% of respondents.

Looking at the data with demographic breaks reveals that consumers across all age groups are most influenced by lower prices. However, older consumers are likelier than younger respondents to be influenced by reducing food waste (67% of 55+ vs. 56% of 18-24-year-olds). However, approximately one-third of 18-24-year-olds (36%) mention convenience, so for example up picking up wonky veg from a nearby farmer's market, as an influencing factor for buying imperfect produce, while the proportion drops to about a fifth of 35-44-year-olds (21%) and a quarter of those aged 55 and above (25%) who express the same influence.

Factors influencing the decision to avoid imperfect produce

Among those unlikely to purchase imperfect fruits and vegetables, over two-fifths of respondents say they are deterred by the quality (43%) and appearance (42%).

More than a quarter of respondents (28%) say that the perception of taste influences their decision not to buy imperfect produce. That’s followed by 20% picking health concerns like food safety as a reason.

Data further reveals that 18-24-year-olds are more likely to not buy imperfect fruits because of health concerns (40%) than taste perception (34%). But consumers in other age groups are more concerned about imperfect produce not tasting the same.

When asked if they would be willing to purchase subscription boxes that provide imperfect produce at a lower price to reduce food waste, only 2% of respondents said they already have such subscriptions.

However, overall consumers are more willing to purchase imperfect fruits and vegetables through subscription boxes (46%) than they are unwilling (36%). And the same opinion is shared by consumers across all age groups.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on November 10-12, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2,049 adults in the United Kingdom (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and region to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Image: Getty Images