The consumers’ preference for fruit and vegetables that are “perfect” in terms of shape, colour and size restricts the consumption of food. About 30% of farmers production is wasted, resulting in a terrible food waste and also in low profitability for those who produce the so-called “ugly fruits”.
“Fruta Feia” was established in late 2013, to reduce food waste due to appearance. In 2015, “Fruta Feia” partnered with Instituto Superior Técnico and Lisbon City Hall, to create the FLAW4LIFE project, which aims to replicate “Fruta Feia” in several Portuguese cities and disseminate the “Fruta Feia” approach on a national and international level as a means to respond to the current issue of food waste due to appearance.
Nowadays, “Fruta Feia” has 12 delivery points, 256 partner-farmers and 6408 consumers who save 15 tons of food waste every week. Over the years, the project has prevented the waste of nearly two thousand tonnes of fruit and vegetables just because of their appearance. 235 partner-farmers got financial support through this project (about €1 million), which allowed to create an alternative market for “ugly” fruit and vegetables.
“The environmental and social results achieved by this project exceeded the initial goals, and placed it among the finalists of LIFE 2020 awards”, says Inês Ribeiro, professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering (DEM/IST) and one of the researchers involved in the project.
“We are very proud to be among the finalists. FLAW4LIFE promoted the development and expansion of a sustainable consumption cooperative, whose purpose is reducing food waste due to appearance, at farmers level”, stresses the DEM professor. “Fruta Feia works on a very innovative business model in social issues” adds professor Inês Ribeiro.
Técnico was responsible for assessing the project’s three sustainable pillars – environment, society and economy. “A tool was developed to optimize the transport routes for products”, shares the Técnico professor.
Besides this partnership there is an emotional link between Técnico and “Fruta Feia”, Isabel Soares and Francisco Gonçalves, founders of “Fruta Feia” are Técnico Environmental Engineering alumni.
The LIFE Awards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in three categories: climate action, environment and nature protection. The FLAW4LIFE project is nominated in the environment category, and is also one of the candidates for the LIFE Citizens ’Prize, where the public can vote for their favourite project, until 21st October, on LIFE Awards 2020 website.
The DEM professor challenges the Técnico community to vote for this project. “This award is a way of supporting this project and make it more visible, which is also economically sustainable and uses products that have been wasted so far”.