Written by Jenny Archdall

Produced for online by Reece D’Alessandro

Supermarkets across Australia reject 20 to 40 per cent of fresh produce purely based on cosmetic standards.

Health food industries are banding together to actively combat food waste and support farmers.

Freeze Dry Industries founder, Michael Buckley, says his company is creating new ways to both consume food and stop food waste.

“Freeze-drying targets waste simply because it allows the farmers and the food growers and marketers to innovate, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to get stuck into that waste of our beautiful fruits and vegetables and other raw materials,” he says.

While public demand remains low, he also says freeze-dried produce is growing in popularity among manufacturers and health food stores.

“This type of convenient nutrition, 100 per cent natural food is absolutely an alternative to fresh.”

Charlie’s Fruit Market store manager, Katie McPherson, says supermarkets are rejecting food only on cosmetic grounds.

“While it is classified as second quality, the taste and everything is exactly the same, it’s just there’s marks and stuff on the skin or it’s grown a bit odd,” she says.

Buying fresh produce ‘seconds’ or ‘ugly fruit’ can actually be a money-saver and Ms McPherson says this has been motivating their customers.

“That brings a lot of people in, because the prices of fruit and veg, do seem to be rising quite high, especially in the last couple of years,” she says.

Charlie’s Fruit Market at Everton Park  is also innovating; in the way they use these rejected fruits.

We have several lines, so not only do we have the ugly fruits, we also have juicing produce, which again, it’s mainly for juicing because it doesn’t look great, I’d say about 20 per cent of our produce [is for juicing].”

Michael Buckley says with more education around this, consumer attitudes could change.

“Yeah, so we’ll definitely change, given that the health professionals and health networks push the approach, you know I watch Jamie Oliver promote such things,” he says.