CINCINATTI – In 2019, customers can purchase “ugly, imperfect or misfit” produce from Kroger’s Peculiar Picks program. It’s a new produce brand “made up of fruits and vegetables that don’t meet typical retail standards for color, shape or size.”
According to Grocery Dive, Kroger wouldn’t sell this type of produce at all before the new brand launched. But the grocer’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative aims to divert unused food and reduce waste by 2025. There’s also a campaign to eliminate single-use plastic bags from all stores by 2025.
A concept focused on “ugly” produce isn’t new. Whole Foods and Walmart began selling these “undesired” fruits and vegetables in 2016, and a number of startups have focused on the idea. Grocery Dive reports that “last year, Hy-Vee added Robinson Fresh’s Misfit produce line to almost all of its 242 stores, and Hungry Harvest announced the expansion of its operations as an ‘ugly’ produce delivery service to 30 cities over the next four years.”
Grocers contribute 10% of total food waste in the U.S., and ugly fruits and vegetables are a large part of that percentage. Selling them commercially is certainly a hit among younger consumers and can help the grocer and suppliers trim waste fees and operations. But its overall impact on the larger food waste problem remains to be seen.