Yesterday (19 June) high-end UK supermarket Waitrose launched a Cooks’ Ingredients range, selling class II fruits for cooking in pies and jams.

While not all the fruits are visually perfect they are just as tasty as class I fruits, which are usually rejected by supermarkets, Waitrose said.

According to a survey conducted by Friends of the Earth, titled ‘Supermarkets and Great British Fruit’, “supermarkets reject fruits for a variety of reasons such as colour, non-harmful skin blemishes, shape and size.”

Tom Richardson, Fruit Buyer at Waitrose, said: “Supermarkets are often criticised for rejecting fruit and vegetables because they don’t look picture perfect. But this innovative new range will help our customers realise that while beauty might be skin deep, flavour certainly isn’t.”

Waitrose will be the first UK supermarket to sell class II fruits – having developed a range of seasonal fruits with imperfections that are common in all naturally grown produce. Apart from visual blemishes, all the fruits in the range are grown to the same standards and by the same growers as Waitrose class I fruits, the retailer said. The seasonal range will also include cooking fruits not normally stocked in supermarkets, such as damsons.

The National Farmers’ Union has welcomed the announcement, but Sarah Pettit, vice chairman of the NFU Horticulture Board, was quick to call for moves to ensure that growers would be the ones to benefit from the move.

“This decision is good news for British growers, provided that the grower benefits from any costs that are saved,” Pettit said.

However, Waitrose was quick to assure just-food that these concerns were unfounded.

“The class II fruits would not necessarily have been wasted but would have gone to wholesale markets. Through the new Cooks Ingredients line we are simply guaranteeing a secure outlet for the growers,” Richardson said.