Now trending for 2014: Ugly produce

Heirloom tomatoes and farmers markets opened the refrigerator door on a major trend for 2014: Ugly produce.

That’s according to JWT, the marketing communications giant. Wednesday, JWT released its ninth annual forecast of future food trends. Along with edible packaging (eat the wrapper, too) and silent restaurant meals (no cellphone or talking allowed), ugly produce will become more common in the year ahead, say JWT’s expert trendspotters.

Prompted by the farm-to-fork movement, this trend celebrates unusual looking vegetables and fruit. Instead of condemning lop-sided tomatoes or warty squash to the compost heap, these natural oddballs could be all the rage. Proclaimed as “Proudly Imperfect,” this gnarly produce is already gaining more appeal than its prettier counterparts commonly seen in supermarkets, reports JWT. Also on the ugly list are vegetables that look less than perfect even at their best, such as taro root and jicama, but are gaining in popularity along with continued interest in ethnic cuisines.

According to JWT, Europe is taking the lead in ugly produce as a way to reduce food waste by selling rather than discarding imperfect fruit and vegetables. Austrian chain Billa, for example, offers a private-label line of “nonconformist” produce dubbed “Wunderlinge,” a made-up word that combines the terms for “anomaly” and “miracle.” German retailer Edeka tested selling ugly produce at a discount, branded as “nobody is perfect.” Meanwhile, British magazine Delicious encourages readers to buy imperfect produce and speak out against regulations governing the appearance of produce sold in stores.

When it comes to produce, beauty really is only skin deep, say the Proudly Imperfect proponents. It’s the taste and freshness that counts.