Hy-Vee is battling food waste and giving ugly food some love. The regional chain began offering so-called “ugly” produce in nearly all of its 242 grocery stores this month.
"Ugly” produce is cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables that would traditionally go unsold due to the industry’s size and shape standards.
However, a movement to make this imperfect produce culturally acceptable to purchase and available to consumers has been gaining popularity overseas in Europe and now in the United States.
Hy-Vee has partnered with food production company Robinson Fresh to sell Misfits® produce. Misfits fruits and vegetables are usually a lower cost with the goal of reducing produce waste. Through the program, four to six Misfit items are delivered weekly, based on what is seasonally available, and are sold on average at a 30 percent discount. Some of the line’s items include peppers, cucumbers, squash, apples and tomatoes.
“The beauty of this program is that the produce tastes the same and is of the same high quality, it just looks different. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. The same is true for Misfits fruits and vegetables,” said John Griesenbrock, Hy-Vee’s vice president of produce/HealthMarkets.
The United Nations estimates between 20 to 40 percent of produce harvested each year is thrown away because it does not meet sizing standards for store shelves. In accepting less cosmetically pleasing produce, Hy-Vee is aligning with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recently announced goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. In Omaha many of the stores also compost their food waste.
Watch the video above to see ugly produce at the Hy-vee at 88th and Center.