Grocery store offers ‘ugly’ produce to combat food waste

Grocery store offers ‘ugly’ produce to combat food waste

More than a fourth of produce is immediately thrown out because it’s deemed not “pretty” enough for a grocery store or restaurant to purchase.

That practice results in billions of pounds of food waste and billions of dollars lost. A new initiative at Hy-Vee grocery stores is trying to help by cutting down on waste and making fresh food more affordable.

When you walk into Hy-Vee in Fitchburg you’ll be met with hundreds of pieces of delectable fruits and veggies.

“We love coming to Hy-Vee because they have good produce,” Klaire Flanagan said.

The grocery chain is now making some space it its flawless produce display for some “misfits.” A new product line from Robinson Fresh, one of the world’s largest produce companies, offers “ugly” fruit that otherwise wouldn’t make it on the shelves.

“It allows us to have produce that might not normally make it on to the produce area because either it’s misshapen or doesn’t look quite right,” Kara Hoerr, a registered dietician at Fitchburg Hy-Vee, said.

The produce is sold on average at a 30 percent discount. Some of the line’s items include peppers, cucumbers, squash, apples and tomatoes. For example, a bag of misfit apples costs $1.99.

The misfit produce tastes the same and has the same nutritional value as their prettier counterparts.

Monica Theis, a senior lecturer in the department of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the misfits are a step in the right direction to combating a major food waste problem in our country.

“There’s economic costs. There’s social costs that I think people are just becoming more aware of and saying ‘You know this is a problem that we can manage, we can do something about this,'” Theis said.

Other grocery stores have similar initiatives The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.