Super-size lemons taken by Tesco to save food waste

Ben Rowbotham

Buying Manager, Citrus
Welwyn Garden City

30 May 2017

Super-size lemons coming to the UK as growers see swollen yields after excessive winter rains.

Excessive rain in Spain has swollen lemons to a super-size. Known as Emperor lemons, these larger sized lemons aren’t usually sold in the UK because there are normally so few of them. However, this year they are huge and we’ve worked with our suppliers to make sure that none of them go to waste.

Emperor Lemons

The wet winter suffered in Spain means this season Tesco can stock these super-size lemons for the first time in the UK, throughout the summer. The Emperor Lemon is double the size of a normal unwaxed lemon.

Emperor: 250g/Lemon          Unwaxed: 125g/Lemon

Emperor Pack x4: 1kg             Unwaxed pack x5: 625g


Thanks to our direct relationship we have been able to adapt our specifications and design a new pack to ensure that none of these large lemons go to waste. These lemons are great for juicing making them perfect for customers and our growers.

We’re able to offer a sustainable price to our growers and a great retail price to our customers of £1.75. This makes the Emperor 40p/kg cheaper verses the unwaxed.

Produce affected by excessive rain

This winter, the rains in Spain were quite a pain, as they caused floods that destroyed many crops. It was the worst weather to hit production in over 30 years. This unprecedented weather led to price rises and shortages with some products such as courgettes, peppers and leafy salads. In some cases over 40% of the crop was lost.

Perfectly Imperfect

We're increasingly widening our specifications to give customers as much choice in produce as nature provides. We no longer stipulate stringent specifications to our producers. The Perfectly Imperfect range uses wonky fruit and vegetables and offer them to customers to help prevent food waste on farms and in production. The range includes cucumbers, strawberries, courgettes, pears and many other popular fruits and vegetables. 68 million portions of fruit have been saved from going to waste through our Perfectly Imperfect range.

Whilst visual appearance is still important for many customers we know that it is taste that’s really important, at great value prices. Our growers have told us that they love the Perfectly Imperfect range, because it means we can take much more of the crop. We love it because it allows us to make the most of the fresh produce we can sell in our stores.

No time for waste

This is part of our ongoing work to tackle food waste wherever it occurs – from farm to fork. Tesco believes that no food that could be eaten should be wasted. That’s why we’ve committed that no food that is safe for human consumption will go to waste from Tesco UK Retail operations by the end of 2017.

The Emperor Lemons are super-juicy. Perfect for squeezing and making lemonade.

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