Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) are being urged in an online petition to embrace ugly fruit and vegetables. Not only are the two retail juggernauts being urged to sell so-called ugly fruit, but to also promote and offer it at a discounted price.
Would you be more inclined to purchase ugly fruit if it was cheaper?
The Trend of Selling Ugly Fruit
This past week, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” ran a segment in which he tackled the issue of food waste. This brought the issue at the forefront of discourse once again.
In the United States, nearly half of the food produced is tossed into the garbage, and one of the biggest issues is ugly-looking fruits and vegetables, which tastes fine but doesn’t look too good. This means stores are less likely to sell them and consumers are more likely to throw them out.
But one online petitioner suggests U.S. consumers and grocery chains should take another look at imperfect fruit and vegetables. Jordan Figueredo, a 36-year-old sanitation worker in Casto Valley, established an online petition on Change.org in an effort to encourage the two retailers, and other food stores, to sell, promote and discount imperfect fruit and vegetables.
As part of the petition, Figueiredo recommends stores to sell produce at a discount of 30 to 50 percent. He notes that many low-income families are unable to afford fruits and vegetables, and this would be a perfect remedy to the issue of food insecurity, health and cost.
Here is an excerpt from the petition:
Yet, we throw away nearly 26% of all produce before it even reaches the grocery store due mostly to cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how fruits and veggies should look. If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color, retailers deem it “ugly” and refuse to sell it in their stores. Billions of pounds of good, healthy produce goes uneaten because it’s not pretty!”
Stefanie Sacks, author of “What the Fork Are you Eating?” and a nutritionist, is co-sponsoring the Internet petition. Sacks argues that smaller and imperfect produce is equally nutritious and can often taste a lot better because the water and the sugar can have the right balance. She also posted an in-depth piece on The Huffington Post.
At the time of this writing, the petition has 3,641 signatures with a goal of 5,000 petitioners.
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which has been pledging to sell more Made in the USA products, has been selling more organic products as of late. It remains uncertain if the global retail behemoth embraces the trend.
This comes as Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) was recently found overcharging its customers. The company promised to rectify the situation and offer customers free food if it was found they were overcharged.
Trend of Imperfect Produce a Global Movement
Stores selling imperfect apples and spinach, peaches and zucchinis has become a worldwide movement. Many companies have decided to sell this type of produce, and even at a discounted price.
For instance, in Canada, Loblaw Companies Limited (TSE:L) announced earlier this year that it would begin to sell discounted ugly fruit as part of an initiative to limit food waste. Over the past several months, it has been selling imperfect bagged apples and potatoes at a 30 percent lower price at No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore outlets in Ontario and Maxi stores in Quebec.
The Great White North has a serious food waste problem: every year, consumers waste more than $31 worth of food. “Consumers are busy picking off deals, while retailers and suppliers are busy picking off each other,” one anonymous food expert said in a Value Chain Management International report.
“This produces enormous amounts of food waste and is unsustainable.”
In France, Intermarché, the third-largest supermarket chain in the country, launched the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign last year. This initiative aims to curb food waste by producers and grocers. The campaign started soon after it was reported that countries within the European Union toss 300 million tons of food away per year.