Kroger Is Launching A New ‘Ugly Produce’ Program To Reduce Food Waste

You buy a bag of spring mix or a bunch of broccoli with every intention of using it as part of a healthful meal. Some time later, you’re cleaning out the fridge and find a plastic bag full of green sludge.

If you have ever wasted food, you’re not alone. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year ends up either lost or wasted.

America’s largest grocery chain, Kroger, has vowed to eliminate waste in the company by 2025. In doing so, the company hopes to also eradicate hunger in the communities it serves. Kroger’s most recent step toward ending waste is to start selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables.

Pickuliar Picks

The Kroger family of stores, which includes supermarkets such as Fry’s, Ralph’s and Harris Teeter, has named this initiative “Pickuliar Picks.” The tagline they are using reads, “Imperfect, but perfectly delicious.”

Will customers go for the cosmetically flawed food? The retailer’s CEO Rodney McMullen believes so.

“I grew up on a farm,” McMullen told The Wall Street Journal. “Last Sunday, I went out to see my parents and their garden, and I find the produce that looks the ugliest tastes the best.”

ugly tomato photo
Flickr | cvander

Kroger Is Not The First

Other grocery stores have been selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables for some time. Both Walmart and Whole Foods started offering the imperfect items in 2016. Meijer sells its “Misfits Produce” at a reduced price as well.

The produce is all perfectly safe and good to eat. In most cases, it is simply the wrong size, misshapen or scarred.

What About Food Banks?

Because farmers often donate less-than-perfect produce to food banks, there is some concern that this trend will have a negative effect on providing food for hungry families.

Kroger, however, is making an effort in that direction as well. As part of its Zero Hunger/Zero Waste initiative, Kroger has partnered with Feeding America. In 2017, the grocery retailer directed charitable giving of $358 million to communities and rescued 74 million pounds of food for donation.