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ugly produce

Poll: Americans buy ugly produce because it's cheaper

A new Harris Poll has found price is a top factor when deciding to purchase ugly produce. However, those earning the least are less likely than others to be comfortable eating ugly produce.

Of the 28% of respondents who purchased ugly produce in the past year, 61% bought it because it was cheaper than the conventional option.

The poll also found 79% of consumers would be at least somewhat willing to buy ugly produce in the future, but 68% of those polled said it would depend on the price.

In general, 76% expect to pay less for ugly produce.

At the same time, only 57% of respondents earning less than $50,000 would be at least somewhat comfortable eating ugly produce, even if it tasted the same, compared to 62% of all respondents.

Older consumers are somewhat more likely to be at least somewhat comfortable eating ugly produce, with 66% of those aged 45-54 and 65% of those aged 55-64 stating that.

harris poll ugly produce
Photo: Thinkstock. Illustration: SN/Anna Kang

The poll found men are more likely than women to be okay with ugly produce. Sixty-five percent of men are at least somewhat likely to be comfortable eating misshapen fruit or vegetables compared to 60% of women.

While 81% of respondents said appearance of produce is at least somewhat important when buying fresh produce, more consumers said price and seasonality were important to their purchasing decision.

Several retailers have introduced ugly produce on at least a pilot basis in the past two years, including Walmart, Whole Foods Market, Hannaford Supermarkets, Associated Food Stores, Giant Eagle and Loblaw. In many cases, the misshapen fruits and vegetables are sold at a discount.

“Whether ‘ugly’ or not, produce is on the rise, up 5% in U.S. dollar sales in the latest 52 weeks ending July 30, 2016,” Jen Campuzano, director of fresh perishables at Nielsen, said in a press release. “Choosing healthier and more natural products has become a priority for households across the country. For some, this means transparency in labeling, opting for foods with basic ingredient lists or embracing fruits and vegetables, blemishes and all.”

The Harris Poll questioned 2,025 adults aged 18 and up in an online survey.

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