Major supermarkets in Australia have relaxed specifications for fruit and vegetables in an effort to get more fresh produce onto shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coles has stated that it was working with farmers every day to ensure it could get as much of its produce to customers as possible. "We have relaxed specifications around things like cosmetic blemishes, size, and appearance in consultation with our partners," said a spokesperson.
Woolworths said it was also adapting its specifications for fruit and vegetables. "We are working with all our suppliers to maximise the supply so we can meet this demand," said Woolworths' head of produce, Paul Turner.
"Our specifications are adaptable so we can respond to the quality, quantity, and availability of produce in the market. Customers may see some differences in size on some of our fruit and vegetables as we work with our growers to ensure continuity of supply."
Troy Qualischefski from Qualipac Produce in the Lockyer Valley said second-grade vegetables had never been this easy to sell. He said he was currently harvesting broccoli and was having no problems finding a home for it. "The specifications haven't changed in our business, but what has happened is that the second-grade product — that in an oversupplied market never used to have a home — all of a sudden has a value," he said. "So we are able to move some out-of-spec products through other avenues.”