The “exacting” standards of supermarkets are costing farmers a fortune, the IFA has said.
Around one fifth of vegetables in Ireland are judged not fit to be sold and the figure is 16% for fruit.
Speaking to Breakfast Briefing, IFA National Fruit and Veg Committee Chair Niall McCormack said we should not be aiming for perfection.
“Up to 30% of a crop can end up misshapen or not able to be put into exacting standards that the supermarkets require,” he said.
“Those veg will go into animal feed - at maybe €20 or €30 a ton - after costing thousands of euro to grow.”
Fine Gael Agriculture spokesperson Tim Lombard has said our current system has massively increased waste in the industry.
“With the number of growers reducing, this puts pressure on the less than 200 horticulture growers in Ireland to supply beyond what is needed, as this inevitable waste must be factored into production plans,” he said.
“A rising lofty attitude to imperfect looking vegetables and fruit has led to excessive and needless waste of produce that is perfectly nutritional.”
The Irish Government has pledged to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Food waste and loss is estimated to contribute between and 8 and 10% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Main image: Apples pictured in a supermarket. Picture by: PA Photos.