SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — The rising prices of important goods and services such as heating, electricity, and soju, have led to an increased interest in “ugly” agricultural products that were previously discarded due to their poor marketability in terms of shape and size.
Retailers like E-Mart Everyday and Lotte Mart are selling “ugly” produce at significantly lower prices, including onions and cold-damaged broccoli.
Companies that exclusively pack and deliver “ugly” produce are also gaining attention, with the “Uglyus” service, launched in July 2021, seeing a 700 percent increase in sales last year.
The trend towards the use of imperfect agricultural products is not limited to Korea, but is a global phenomenon.
This trend has been particularly embraced by the MZ generation, which places a high value on consumption that emphasizes value and environmental protection.
The concept of “food refurb,” which combines the words “food” and “refurbished,” has gained popularity in France since 2014.
It refers to the reselling of food items that have small defects or cosmetic imperfections that do not affect their quality.
Imperfect Foods, a U.S.-based company founded in 2015, offers subscription services for “ugly” agricultural products at a discount of more than 20 percent compared to normal products.
In addition to providing cost savings for consumers, the increased consumption of “ugly” agricultural products has a positive impact on the environment.
By reducing the amount of agricultural waste that is classified as subpar based on external factors such as shape and size, the cost of disposal is lowered while the income of farmers is increased.
A 2021 survey conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency of 2,000 consumers found that 61 percent of respondents had purchased imperfect agricultural products, and 96 percent expressed their intention to repurchase them, indicating a positive attitude towards environmental protection and value consumption.
According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 1.3 billion tons of food waste are thrown away annually worldwide due to low product value, which amounts to about one-third of global food consumption.
The trend towards the use of imperfect agricultural products offers a potential solution to this problem while also providing cost savings and promoting sustainable consumption.
Jerry M. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)