US consumers’ perceptions of imperfect “ugly” produce

Jingxue Jessica Yuan, Sungpo Yi, Helena A. Williams, Oak Hee Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite the perfect nutritional value of imperfect “ugly” produce, they are either never harvested or discarded, resulting in escalating farm-to-fork food waste problems in the USA. The purpose of this paper is to investigate US consumers’ perceptions of imperfect “ugly” produce and their willingness to purchase and consume these foods in their households. Design/methodology/approach: Four focus group sessions with at least five voluntary participants per session were conducted. Each session used structured interview questions and the discussions were led by the same moderator. All sessions were recorded, transcribed and analyzed based on published focus group guidelines and recommendations. Findings: The research study has revealed two categories of potential consumers, Influencers and Learners, when it comes to an initial understanding of “ugly” produce consumption. The study also identified nine themes (i.e. food safety, price sensitivity, location of sale, product display, name/label, purpose of use, fun, targeted education and food waste) that consumers hold regarding imperfect “ugly” produce. Research limitations/implications: Insights from this study provide strategies for sustainable food management that could help stakeholders along all points of the food chain save money, reduce hunger and diminish food waste in our communities. Originality/value: This study serves to provide preliminary insights in approaching the issue of consumers’ perception of imperfect “ugly” fruits and vegetables from a research perspective. Although a limited number of real consumers from the local community participated, their rich and in-depth qualitative responses defined the scope and the defining questions that need further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2666-2682
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 23 2019


  • Farm-to-fork
  • Food waste
  • Food waste reduction
  • Imperfect produce
  • Sustainability
  • “Ugly” fruits and vegetables


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