If you’re looking for nutritious, good tasting fruit, vegetables and meat served up as a balanced diet, 2015 is the official year food turned ugly.

Ask consumers and they’ll tell you that imperfect looking produce tastes perfectly fine; better, in fact.  

Nutritious ugly food choices

Ugly, knotted and gnarled vegetables are no longer sad, forgotten byproducts destined for composting the garden or in tins of mulched food. Instead, they’re now turning up at farmers’ markets around the country.  People are even using smartphone apps designed to help them identify nutritious, ugly food choices.

As a consequence of this polite food revolution, consumers are questioning the nutritional value of perfect looking food in the shops. They no longer rely or even trust the packaging information and labelling that formerly dictated what they served up for dinner.

Images of perfectly sown fields and regimented orchards where machines harvest our food gives consumers the perception that their food is nutritionally hollow. In their minds the answer is ugly!

They want under and oversized fruit and veg, not the perfectly rounded or curved variety. They want odd colours and blemishes, which give them a sense of small scale production and organic growth.

Supermarkets join the ugly food trend

And it has not taken the big supermarket chains long to hop on to this trend – they’re now selling ugly fruit and veg at picture perfect prices.

But ugly food shouldn't come as a surprise; the getting real trend has been going for a while now. Remember the Dove 'real beauty' campaign? It was considered ground breaking with its use of super models to promote the brand.

 Likewise, with ugly food. The popularity of farmers’ markets is well documented and in recent years brands such as Nude by Nature and Rafferty's Garden have successfully brought the idea into the mainstream – and into supermarkets to a point where they’ve seriously threatened the established players. 

Longevity as a driver of distrust

Many of these big brands have long considered their success, history and size the bedrock of trust among consumer. But we’re now witnessing this largeness and longevity as a driver of distrust. It’s this perception of nutritional emptiness, combined with a feeling of having been tricked with marketing ploys, which is driving the success of these new brands.

In our trust analysis studies we see that new brands score higher on the critical development, vision and relationship trust drivers. For large and established brands a little packaging rejig or acquiring the new brands won't do. It needs a rethink of what they need to be trusted for - at a corporate and brand level.