Shoppers only want pick of bunch
BEAUTY might only be skin deep, but that is enough to deter some Bundaberg fruit and vegetable buyers, who tend to overlook the less-than-perfect produce on their shopping lists.
Coral Cove Foodworks owner Ron Miller said sometimes it was impossible to get top quality produce in Bundaberg.
“Sometimes you have to just take what you can get, and it’s not always the most fantastic quality,” Mr Miller said.
Mr Miller’s comments stem from yesterday’s NewsMail story about growers losing millions of dollars because of blemished fruit.
He said he kept a close eye on his produce and removed anything past its prime, but scratched or mis-shapen produce would sit on the shelf even at a cheaper price.
“If you do get a piece of fruit with a mark, sometimes it will just sit there, no matter how much you mark it down,” he said.
“We recently had to send back some oranges and tomatoes to our suppliers because it’s getting to the end of season and they weren’t very good — we wouldn’t have been able to sell them.”
But rather than throwing out produce that was still perfectly edible, just because it did not look cosmetically appealing, Mr Miller said his store found another use for it.
“When you’re a small independent store, you try not to throw anything out, so we try to re-use rather than throwing it out,” he said.
“We use it in cooking — we are lucky because we also do take-away foods.”
But even with picky customers, some Bundaberg shops are doing a steady trade in seconds quality fruit.
At Bundy Fresh Food Market, savvy shoppers can snap up slightly-marked granny smith apples for less than half of what they would pay for the premium, export-quality fruit that sits on a shelf just a few metres away.
“We buy the good quality fruit, but there’s always a mark or a scratch somewhere,” business owner Glenn Pennington said.
“There is a market for seconds — some people come in looking for them, they will buy a big bunch of marked apples to feed to the possums.”
Every day, staff goes through the boxes for quality control and takes off the seconds to be marked down.
“Even the leaves of vegetables like cabbage and lettuce goes to the customer or back to farmers to feed their animals,” Mr Pennington said.
“It’s nice to get perfect-looking stuff, but if you’re getting a bag of apples that taste fine for a dollar, why wouldn’t you?”