Appreciating Ugly foods

Ugly foods are more than just their mere imperfect appearances. What are some beauties of ugly foods that we are missing out on? Read more to find out!

Appreciating Ugly foods

Ugly foods are more than just their mere imperfect appearances.

There have been many efforts put into promoting the beauty of ugly foods to reduce food wastage. And as our country progresses towards a Zero Waste Nation, we start to see more appreciation towards ugly foods.

Local startups like  UglyFood and TreeDots started their businesses with a mission to sell and promote the acceptance towards ugly foods. Many campaigns such as Food Unfiltered were also launched to change mindsets and perceptions towards ugly foods.

So what are some new beauties of ugly foods that we are starting to see now?

Let’s dive in to find out.

Contains more nutrients than ‘attractive’ looking food

Contrary to popular belief, ugly foods are not any less nutritious than their prettier counterparts.

Research has shown that ugly food contains more nutrients like antioxidants and phenolic compounds than pretty looking food. In fact, some ugly foods are even less likely to be exposed to pesticides which means it can end up with 20 to 40% of antioxidants making them more nutritious.

Talk about the healthy benefits!

Helps you to save more money

Due to the constant demand and beauty standards of ‘perfect’ looking foods, supermarkets and food retailers practise ‘cosmetic filtering’ on their food. This means that they will only pick out pretty looking foods to sell at a higher price.

What happens to the foods which are filtered out because they colors and shapes don’t fit in?

In order to not waste the ‘ugly’ looking food, they will often sell it at a discounted price. As consumers, knowing at ugly foods are harmless when eaten, buying ugly foods from supermarkets will mean we can save a lot of money.

If you can get the same type of food with the same amount of nutrients for a cheaper price, why not go for it?

Helps to cut back on food waste

Food waste is a huge problem in many countries, including in Singapore. The total amount of food waste generated in 2021 was 817,000 tonnes, which is 23% more than the amount generated in 2020.

It is estimated that Singapore imports a whopping 988,500 tonnes of food annually, and 72% of it gets wasted. Half of the wasted food is fresh fruits and vegetables which are perfectly edible. Supermarkets and retailers are very much contributors to this problem. On average, supermarkets like FairPrice throws away 2,900 tonnes of unsold food over the past few years due to over-ordering and cosmetic filtering of ugly foods.


Buying ‘ugly’ food will help food retailers and supermarkets to clear their shelves easily without having to dispose of leftovers and this can significantly reduce the food wastage problems we see on a retail level.

Support local agriculture businesses

We tend to give recognitions and awards to chefs who prepare our food. But what about the farmers who grew and harvested the ingredients?


Backend farming and production of fresh food production processes are not commonly seen by consumers. But it is important to know that without local farmers, consumers like ourselves won’t have the privilege to have good and healthy food placed on our tables everyday.

Many resources have been used to grow the crops such as seeds, soils, fertilisers, machinery and long hours of man labour. And when consumers filter out ugly foods, most of the hard work goes to waste with farmers ending up not profiting as much as they should have.

When consumers like us take the step to ignore beauty standards and consume ugly foods, we are also showing appreciation to the farmers for their constant hard work.

It takes collective effort to change everyone’s perception towards ugly foods. Ugly foods contain more benefits than costs so let’s all take an active step towards accepting ugly foods and consuming them then next time we prepare a meal.