In an effort to reduce food waste, British grocery chain Tesco is stocking perfectly edible but atypically green satsumas.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 24, 2017

As Kermit the Frog once famously sang, "It's not easy being green." The same holds true for satsumas—those easy-peeling citrus fruits that all but the most ardent of botanists are happy to call "little mandarin orange thingies."

Seeing as satsumas are in the orange family, most shoppers expect them to be… you know… orange. However, turns out satsumas and clementines can still be perfectly ripe and edible on the inside without turning their signature orange color on the outside. Now, in an effort to further fight food waste, the U.K.'s largest grocery chain, Tesco, has started stocking green-peeled satsumas (with clementines to follow), encouraging shoppers not to judge these fruits by their outer hue.

Tesco says these fruit, which feature what looks like the green rind of a lime, are the result of unusually warm weather in Spain that prevented the outside color from turning during ripening. In the past, this unexpected appearance would prevent the satsumas from making it directly to consumers; instead, they would spend time in a "ripening room" to doll them up for shoppers' eyes. But not only does this add an extra step in the supply chain, it can also lead to some fruit being over-ripened, and thus, truly ruined. So instead, Tesco has decided to alter its quality specifications to allow the still-green fruit to land on shelves. Not only are the edible insides exactly what shoppers would expect with normal satsumas, but skipping this unnecessary additional ripening also adds an extra two days of shelf life – allowing the decision to fight food waste in multiple ways.

"At the moment green easy-peelers fall outside of the general quality specifications set by UK supermarkets but Tesco has made the leading move in order to cut down on food waste," Debbie Lombaard, citrus buyer at Tesco, which claims it is the first UK store to make this decision, told The Guardian. "As a result of this move to take out a handling stage in the journey from farm to fork shoppers will gain extra freshness for their satsumas and clementines."

These so-called "perfectly ripe early season satsumas" are reportedly already at Tesco stores – with green-peeled clementines to follow soon. Despite their green color, this produce is selling for the same price as its orange counterparts – which is how equality should work.