A-peel-ing Carrots

Don’t judge a carrot by its . . . peel?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Gnarly, twisted, scarred or spotted! Billions of pounds of fruits and veggies are thrown away each year. Why? Just because they don’t LOOK picture-perfect! This waste harms our environment, economy and society. Is there a way to make ugly produce more a-PEEL-ing?

Danyi Qi at Louisiana State University and team surveyed over one thousand consumers. They showed pictures of bunches of perfect carrots mixed with “ugly” carrots in different ratios. HOW ugly? Some were bent, twisted, or had extra roots. 

Participants were given two messages. Some were told that buying ugly produce reduces food waste. Others, that ugly carrots are normal. Some people received BOTH messages. Then, all were asked which carrots they preferred. 

So what was the sweet spot? Bunches with forty percent ugly and sixty percent standard carrots sold the best! Overall, consumers who received BOTH messages were more likely to prefer ugly carrots. 

This marketing strategy could help tackle the ROOT of food waste. 

Now THAT’S some food for thought! Slightly ugly food. Still good.

Reference: Qi, D., Penn, J., Li, R., & Roe, B. E. (2022). Winning ugly: Profit maximizing marketing strategies for ugly foods. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 64, 102834. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2021.102834