retail news in context, analysis with attitude

National Public Radio's The Salt has a story about how California-based Raley's is "taking a swing at the food waste problem by trying to get customers to embrace the differences" between "cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables" and variations that are less pleasing to the eye but may taste just as good.

The story notes that "the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that depending on the crop, anywhere from 1 to 30 percent of food grown by farmers doesn't get to the grocery store. And, as we've reported, food is wasted at every step in the supply chain — during transportation and processing and once it gets to our refrigerators."

Efforts to institutionalize the saving and distribution of less-than-perfect produce have grown, with the key being the willingness of producers to co-pack: "As the workers slice and harvest the crop, they pack the premium heads in boxes headed to grocery stores. They separate out the less-than-perfect seconds and paThey separate out the less-than-perfect seconds and pack them in crates destined for the food banks. It's a simple process, but it's tough to recruit more farmers to join in. Only three out of 25 broccoli and cauliflower growers in California participate."

Enter a new venture called Imperfect Produce, which has as its mission growing acceptance of imperfect produce up and down the supply chain. "Imperfect has just inked a deal with high-end chain Raley's, which has more than 100 stores in California and Nevada. The chain says it will launch a pilot program, 'Real Good' produce, in 10 Northern California stores in mid-July.

"Raley's Megan Burritt says she's working on in-store education. When customers are picking up a funky-looking double cherry or an apple that may look like a reject, she wants them to see it in a new way."
KC's View:
She's right. This only works if there is a consumer education component, because this product is competing with items that are being specifically marketed as perfect and beautiful.