Misshapen foods or those with imperfections will be cheaper. / R.C.

Supermarkets in Spain will be forced to reduce prices of ‘ugly’ food to avoid waste

A new law will also oblige them to sell items which are close to their expiry date more cheaply and to donate surpluses to food banks and similar charity organisations

ALFONSO TORICES Madrid

Under a new law which the Spanish parliament is expected to approve soon, supermarkets and large stores will have to sell ‘ugly’ vegetables and fruit – those which are misshapen or have imperfections but are perfectly good to eat - at reduced prices to reduce food waste.

These 'imperfect' products often become part of the 1.3 million tonnes of food that are thrown away in Spain each year (31.3 kilos per inhabitant) so the government has drawn up plans to reduce the problem. When the new regulations come into force, they will include fines for anyone in the agricultural, retail, industrial or restaurant sector who fails to comply.

The reason behind the move is not only to reduce the waste of natural resources but also to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary waste and find an ethical response to hunger and malnutrition, something that affects 1.6 billion people.

Expiry date

Supermarkets will also be obliged to reduce the prices of foods which are close to their expiry date or optimum time for consumption, and they must make it clear to customers why the items are on offer and display them separately.

Industries, shops and restaurants will also be expected to sign agreements to donate unsold products to food banks, NGOs and charity associations.

If unsold food can no longer be guaranteed suitable for human consumption it will be used to feed livestock or to make animal food, or converted into fertiliser and biogas.

There will be hefty fines for companies which ignore the rules. Any store which does not donate its excess supplies to non-profit-making organisations could be fined between 6,000 and 150,000 euros, or up to one million euros for repeated offences.