The website for the fruit snacks producer Snact, seen in August 2019, featured the headline claim “DELICIOUS FOOD WASTE-FIGHTING SNACKS”. On the OUR STORY page of the website, text stated “We make wholesome food waste-fighting snacks to create more taste and less waste. Our hand made fruit jerky and banana bars are packed with all the nutrition of flawless fruit and help the UK tackle food waste … We’ve been making deliciously sustainable snacks to tackle food waste since 2013”.
The complainant, who understood that the snacks were not made from food produce that would otherwise have been wasted, challenged whether the claims that the snacks tackled food waste were misleading and could be substantiated.
GFT Retail t/a Snact explained that the EU FUSION framework for food waste differentiated between a number of types of food waste. This included produce that was left unharvested or ploughed back into the ground by farmers. They explained that farmers routinely assessed their crops to judge whether the proportion of their crop will be category 2 produce (i.e. unattractive, wonky, wrong size), and accordingly only be able to be sold for jams, juices and sauces rather than as whole fruit and vegetables, and therefore sold at a cheaper price. If the proportion of category 2 produce was too high, then it would be more profitable to leave the food unharvested as the market price would be below the cost of harvesting. They provided a report which showed that 9% of UK strawberries were wasted in primary production, when most of the waste was theoretically avoidable. Snact said that they agreed with the complainant that using ugly or wonky fruit alone did not necessarily constitute food waste, but it was not correct to state that ugliness/wonkiness of produce did not cause food waste. They said they worked with farmers who had identified those parts of their crop that were uneconomical to harvest under normal market conditions, and found a price that would incentivise them to harvest the produce. For example, juicers were typically willing to pay about £100 per tonne of apples, a price that didn’t incentivise many of the farms they worked with to harvest a crop. In the past, Snact had paid up to £200 per tonne so that the farmer had an incentive to collect the produce. Through this approach they created additional demand, whereas buying juicing applies from a sorting facility displaced demand.
Snact further clarified that in 2019 they had only used produce from the early stage of the food chain, and did not use produce that would otherwise have been thrown away after it had been processed, packed and transported. They said that this could change depending on demand. They gave an example from a previous year where they worked with a leading supermarket that had a shipping container of bananas that would have gone off before reaching the shop shelves as the container’s refrigerator had broken down. As the bananas were branded, they couldn’t be sent to the market and the cost of repackaging would be too high, so Snact took the bananas from them, thereby stopping the produce from going to waste.
Snact also provided a letter from a supplier as supporting evidence that said they supplied produce to Snact that would otherwise have gone unharvested and a letter from a supermarket which showed they took produce that was ripened on route to the UK.
The ASA noted the ad featured numerous claims on the website such as “food waste-fighting snacks” and “help the UK tackle food waste”. We considered that consumers would generally understand the claims to refer to food that would have otherwise been thrown away or left uneaten at any stage of the supply chain.
We understood the complainant was concerned that Snact may have been using “wonky” fruit and vegetables that were deemed too unattractive to be sold whole in supermarkets or shops, but would still be used to produce other items such as sauces and juices, and accordingly would not have gone to waste. However, we understood that the fate of “wonky” fruit and vegetables that were not of a quality that could be sold whole varied depending on the individual circumstances of the crop and wider market factors. While on some occasions it might be sold for use in sauces and juices, in others it would be left to rot or composted, for instance when the farmer did not have a readily accessible secondary market or when selling the crop, to be used in sauces and juices, did not cover the cost of harvesting. In this case, Snact did not use produce that would otherwise have been used in sauces or jams. The produce that they did use was primarily from farms where it would otherwise have been sent to the compost heap or left to rot for the reasons mentioned above.
In addition, in another instance, Snact had sourced bananas from a supermarket after their shipping container’s refrigerator on route to the stores had broken down. If Snact had not purchased them, the bananas would have over ripened and then been thrown away. Because Snact used produce that otherwise would have been thrown away or left to rot by farmers, we concluded that the food waste claims had been substantiated and were not misleading.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.