Canadian grocer will sell ugly fruits and vegetables at a discount

ugly vegetables campaign Loblaws
via Toronto Star

Loblaws is taking a fabulous step toward reducing food waste that will benefit shoppers, farmers, and the planet.

Canada’s largest grocery retailer has set an exciting new precedent in the war against wasted food. Loblaw Companies Ltd. has just announced that it will sell ugly, imperfect-looking produce at prices that are 30 percent lower than their prettier counterparts.

The new campaign, launched March 12, is called the “No Name Naturally Imperfect” line and is already available at Real Canadian Superstores. It will soon reach select No Frills supermarkets in Ontario and Maxi stores in Quebec. Currently only potatoes and apples are being sold, but Loblaw has plans to expand if these do well. According to senior VP Ian Gordon:

“We often focus too much on the look of produce, rather than the taste. Once you peel or cut an apple, you can’t tell it once had a blemish or was misshapen. [This campaign] is a great example of Loblaw and our vendors coming together to find an innovative way to bring nutritious food options to consumers at a great price.”

Selling ugly produce has many benefits:

  • It’s great for all shoppers to get quality produce at cheaper prices, but particularly for low-income households who may struggle to afford fresh food at current prices. Fifteen percent of U.S. household are considered “food insecure” – that’s 50 million hungry Americans.
  • It reduces the amount of perfectly edible food that gets wasted each year. According to some estimates, this is 24 percent of all calories produced for human consumption and $31 billion-worth of food in Canada.
  • It’s better for the environment. Eating more ugly produce means less of it goes into methane-emitting landfills. It cuts into the estimated 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that go into producing, transporting, storing, and preparing food that is never eaten (
  • The grocery store will make a bit more money by selling produce that normally would just get thrown out, and save money on waste disposal costs.
  • Farmers are able to sell a larger percentage of their harvest because meeting absurd cosmetic standards is no longer the rule.

    Hopefully Loblaws' move will inspire other grocery stores to follow suit. Much depends on whether North American shoppers are willing to forego aesthetics for lower prices, but if Europe is any indication, people are starting to move in this direction. 2014 was declared the year to fight food waste and French supermarket Intermarché saw its store traffic increase by 24 percent after introducing its "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables" campaign.

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