Kroger Launches Ugly Produce Program
The topic of food waste is certainly having its moment in the sun, but just because it’s been addressed publically doesn’t mean it’s been solved. Plenty of work still needs to be done, and one of America’s largest grocery store chains wants to keep the momentum going: Kroger has announced plans to launch its own brand of ugly produce.
Citing a stat that 6 billion pounds of produce go unused every year, Kroger’s Senior Innovation Manager Nicole Davis told attendees at last week’s Food Forward Summit that her company would be “creating a new brand that is not in stores yet called Peculiar Picks,” according to FoodNavigator-USA. Set to launch in the first quarter of 2019, this new label will repackage so-called “ugly” produce—which “doesn’t meet a specific color, shape or size ... but still tastes delicious and is perfectly safe”—and “encourage our consumers to try these items so there is not so much waste,” she explained. Previously, Kroger wouldn’t have sold this flawed produce at all.
Kroger is far from the only retailer looking to address food waste using these sorts of tactics. Both Whole Foods and Walmart started experimenting with selling ugly fruits and vegetables back in 2016. In 2017, the Michigan-based Meijer supermarket chain added “Misfits bins,” selling “cosmetically-challenged” produce at 20 to 40 percent off. And granted, it’s a totally different sort of approach, but a couple years ago, the grocery chain Asda and a toymaker Hasbro even teamed up to create a “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” as a tribute to the value of ugly produce.
Still, though selling ugly produce might be one good way to prevent food waste, some worry that it comes at expense of another worthy cause: food banks. As we reported back in April, farmers often donated this unwanted produce to food banks, something that’s “happening less and less,” according to Robert Egger, president of L.A. Kitchen, a food-focused non-profit. As we said up top, the problem of food waste is far from solved.