March 29, 2016

Pilot Project to Sell "Ugly" Foods Starting Soon

Supermarkets in the United States often reject produce that does not meet certain appearance standards. This includes produce that is generally thought of as being too big, too small, or misshapen or discolored.

According to a recent USA Today article, food retailer Whole Foods Market will begin a pilot project later this spring offering “ugly” produce for sale in certain California stores. Whole Foods already uses this produce in its prepared foods, but it intends to put the produce on display and sell it with other fruits and vegetables.

The goal is to reduce food going to waste, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates to occur to approximately one-third of the total food supply. According to the article, supermarkets in Europe and Australia already successfully sell “imperfect” produce.

In addition to Whole Foods’ pilot project, several companies and nonprofits in the U.S. are seeking to reduce food waste by making this produce available at prices below supermarket prices. One, located outside of Boston, has experienced enough success to consider expansion to other areas – evidence that it’s the taste (and perhaps the cost) that matters, not the appearance.