Sainsbury’s is lobbying the Government and the European Commission in an effort to relax strict specifications that limit its ability to sell unusually shaped fresh produce.

The grocer has launched a “Save our Ugly Fruit and Veg” campaign, which expresses its concerns over the regulations, and has also gone live with an online poll for shoppers to join in the fight for wonky products.

Sainsbury’s says the restrictions, which it has lambasted as “bonkers”, have prevented it from launching a Halloween range of misshapen fruit and vegetables that would have been up to 40 per cent cheaper than the standard alternatives in stores.

The range was pulled because various EU regulations that, for example, make it illegal to sell forked carrots or onions that are less than two thirds covered with skin.

Sainsbury's has written to Environment Secretary Hilary Benn and EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel expressing its concerns over the regulations.

Sainsbury’s brand integrity and sustainability manager Sue Henderson said: “We have been struggling to fit a square peg in a round hole for too long now when it comes to conforming to the more controversial elements of the EU regulations.

“We’re not allowed to use up to 20 per cent of what’s produced in this country and in the current credit crunch climate, we cannot continue to waste this much food before it even leaves the farms.”