Whole Foods plans to buy funny looking fruits and veggies
The issue of food waste has garnered a lot of attention recently. Both governments and private grocers have jumped in to try to limit the amount of perfectly edible perishables being thrown out. France has gone as far as to enact anti-food waste laws, and a recently opened grocery store in Denmark specializes in food that may be bruised, battered or expired, but tastes just fine. The trend has remained a niche stateside, but now one of the biggest names in natural foods is testing out this very green policy. Whole Foods is piloting the sale of “ugly” produce.
The grocer has entered into a partnership with California-based startup Imperfect Produce, a delivery service for produce that doesn’t fit the cosmetic standards of contemporary grocery stores. According to NPR, Whole Foods will test the sale of misshapen produce in a handful of stores in Northern California. There may have been some customer impetus behind the move as well. Last September, a Change.org petition appeared by a group called The Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign, which encouraged Whole Foods (and Walmart) to stop contributing to the food waste problem.
This may be a great time, PR-wise, for Whole Foods to publicly eschew wastefulness and jump onto the ugly produce bandwagon. No stranger to suffering viral takedowns (think last year’s overpriced asparagus water debacle), the chain has been the target of a “Twitterstorm” for its sale of $6 pre-peeled, individually packed oranges. CBS News reported that Whole Foods quickly yanked the oranges from its shelves, tweeting, “These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.”
In addition to supporting its green image, stocking ugly fruits and vegetables could also help the grocer face down its high price-perception problem since funny looking produce is often discounted.
- From Ugly To Hip: Misfit Fruits And Veggies Coming To Whole Foods – NPR
- France bans edible food dumping – RetailWire
- In Denmark, a new supermarket sells ugly food incredibly cheap – The Star
- Whole Foods and Walmart: Stop Contributing to Massive Food Waste in the U.S. – Change.org
- Whole Foods responds to $6 pre-peeled orange Twitterstorm – CBS News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How well does the sale of ugly produce play to Whole Foods’ customer base? Do you think shoppers will be willing, even at a lower price, to buy “ugly” produce instead of the chain’s normal fare? Will Whole Foods help set a trend in motion that will spread to conventional grocery stores in the U.S.?