American consumers have always demanded perfection. We want the best product available for the lowest possible price. Our entire economic system is fashioned so that we reward products with beautiful form and efficient function by buying them, allowing the rest to metaphorically rot. This could not be more true (or literal, for that matter) in the produce industry, which reportedly culls as much as 30% of fresh produce that does not fit the shapes we've come to expect for our potatoes, apples and carrots.
That preference is changing, however, with the "ugly fruit" movement. Much like the organic and sustainable movements before it, consumers are moving to eat so-called ugly fruits and vegetables for a social reason: global food waste, which can total into the billions of dollars every year. Most ugly produce is also perfectly fine to eat. We discard it in favor of those perfectly formed berries or completely proportional tomatoes, a move that is both wasteful and, in many ways, arrogant, when you consider how many in the world would benefit from such "waste."
Bon Appetit Management Co. launched the Imperfectly Delicious Produce program in May 2014 to commericalize the movement, and Canadian grocer Loblaw launched "Naturally Imperfect" produce this month to also capitalize on the new trend. Smaller organizations have also found ways to sell such products at farmers' markets, including Hungry Harvest, a D.C. organization that also donates a case of fresh produce for every box purchased. You may notice that "ugly" does not appear anywhere in the promotions, and this is probably a smart move. "Imperfect" sounds a lot more palatable than "ugly."
I understand the desire for an apple with perfect form if you are going to eat it, but do you need the same apple for a pie? Could these misshapen products have been used commercially for juice products? I'm not sure an ugly tomato will influence my thoughts on the sauce it is used to create. It would seem that these common-sense applications can further expand the ugly fruit movement from an underground sensation to a world-wide campaign to end hunger. And that is a perfectly fine motivator, I am sure we can all agree.
Casual dining concepts have seen 58% less traffic since the start of the pandemic, whereas fast food restaurants only experienced a 30% decrease, according to a report from TOP Data.read more
Chris is a business writer and market analyst that focuses on the Markets, Legal and Washington sections of the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He invites you to contact him via email at email@example.com to talk about anything food-related.
There are no comments, yet. Why don't you add one?
10 Mountainview Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Food Institute reps are available to answer your questions
BECOME A MEMBER
For close to 90 years, The Food Institute has been the best "single source" for food industry executives, delivering actionable information daily via email updates, weekly through The Food Institute Report and via a comprehensive web research library. Our information gathering method is not just a "keyword search."