Ugly produce seemed to be the next big trend in the fresh produce industry in 2016 with many grocery stores launching new programs and increased customer demand for the often wasted fruits and vegetables. As an online marketplace & enterprise software solution for surplus food management, we’ve seen this new interest in ugly produce first hand at Spoiler Alert.
For produce marketers, this trend presents a unique opportunity for marketing departments to create innovative campaigns, and exploring an ugly produce program can be a creative way to increase produce sales. Plus, consumers are beginning to make purchasing decisions based on the sustainability of company products and operations.
Here are three examples of produce companies and a look at their marketing efforts for b-grade goods.
Forrest City Weingart
Cleveland-based produce wholesaler Forrest City Weingart launched a produce delivery service called “Perfectly Imperfect” in May 2016 to help move shipments that grocery stores reject from them.
The program has enabled them to source product from growers that would oftentimes be thrown away or plowed under, such as yellowed green peppers, dimpled honeydew, misshapen potatoes, and sun-scalded jalapenos.
The company has become a go-to solution for their farm suppliers when they have blemished, traditionally unsaleable product. Currently, the produce is sold at a 40% discount from the retail price.
Robinson Fresh & Red Hat Co-operative Ltd.
“The Misfits” line of ugly produce is promoted by distributor Robinson Fresh in the U.S. and grower Red Hat Co-operative in Canada. Sold at a discount of 20-40% of the retail price, Red
Hat Co-operative created the program with their growers that brings a commodity mix to their retailers and helps their partners meet some sustainability goals.
With a focus on three categories (citrus, tropicals, and dry vegetables), a combination of about four to six commodities are available at any given time, such as peppers, cucumbers, apples, and tomatoes.
Most recently, SunFed launched their “Almost Famous” program in January 2017, available in grab-and-go bags for convenience. Before launch, Brett Burdsal of SunFed shared the challenges of sourcing and availability of ugly produce as it’s not grown but a by-product.
The company offers misshapen squash, zucchini, bell peppers and cucumbers in 1.5 lb packages.
Ultimately, there’s a great opportunity for produce marketers to be part of the food waste solution by helping to grow customer demand and interest and divert nearly 266K tons of produce through creative campaigns.
About the Author: Spoiler Alert is a technology company that helps organizations manage unsold food inventory. Our technology platform facilitates food donations, discounted food sales, and organics brokering. We offer the relevant accounting and reporting systems to capture tax benefits and document important financial, environmental, and social metrics.