Harris Farm Markets grocer launches ‘Imperfect Picks’ campaign

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th September 2014
Harris Farm Markets grocer launches ‘Imperfect Picks’ campaign
Harris Farm Markets grocer launches ‘Imperfect Picks’ campaign

Green grocer Harris Farm Markets has launched ‘Imperfect Picks’, a campaign it said was designed to reduce the impact of food waste by relaxing the aesthetic standards to sell fruit and vegetables that might otherwise have been rejected because of a small blemish or imperfection.

The Imperfect Picks range will initially include Packham pears, Navel oranges, Pink Lady apples, bananas, carrots, potatoes, swedes and zucchinis and will be available in-store and online at the Company’s website. Harris Farm Markets said the ‘Imperfect Picks’ will be up to 50 per cent cheaper than the more conventional looking fruit and vegetables.

According to Horticulture Australia at least 277,700 tonnes of the major fruit and vegetable lines, which represents around 25 per cent of production, is wasted each year in Australia. Most waste is a result of the failure to meet strict retail quality specifications and the otherwise edible product is usually dumped, used for stock feed, or rotary hoed back into the soil.

Horticulture Australia said 93,000 tonnes, 31 per cent of total production, of carrots per year are wasted, equating to a value of $24million. One in ten carrots are culled post-harvest due to being damaged, while 23 per cent are culled due to being ‘out of specification’. One in ten cauliflowers produced are rejected at harvest due to colour, maturity or size while up to 30 per cent is left in the field due to market supply and demand, and 10 per cent of beetroots produced are rejected due to being out of retail specification.

Campaign to help reassess required ‘visual perfection’

Harris Farm Markets said the campaign will be help raise awareness about the sometimes “overly harsh” standards of visual perfection “required” by Australian supermarkets and by consumers.

The Company said it had modelled the campaign on a similar campaign created earlier in 2014 by French supermarket Intermache. Australian Food News reported in October 2012, that UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s had also run a similar campaign to promote ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables. In Australia, ‘social wholesale food business’ Spade and Barrow, which was started in 2013 by the founder of food charity SecondBite, takes a similar approach to less-than-perfect produce, buying it from farmers at a reduced rate and selling it at up to 40 per cent less for cafes, restaurants and catering companies.

“Since mum and dad opened their first store in 1971, Harris Farm Markets has been all about offering farm fresh, seasonal fruit and veggies straight from Australian farmers to our customers.” Said Tristan Harris, from Harris Farm Markets. “Our commitment to freshness and taste won’t ever change, however we’ve come to realise that when it comes to fresh produce, we shouldn’t always judge a product by how it looks,” he said.

“We want to start a conversation about Australia’s national food waste crisis and its impact on Australian farmers,” Mr Harris said. “It is our hope that through this campaign, we encourage Australians and the big supermarkets to rethink what’s important when buying fruit and vegetables,” he said.

In order to create Imperfect Picks, Harris Farm Markets has changed their specifications on selected group product lines so that the Company’s buying team are making their decisions on the freshness of the new product range and how it tastes, not by how it looks. Harris Farm Markets said this will mean more of Australia’s fresh and tasty product is taken to market, product which would otherwise have been dumped or ploughed back into a field.

“We also know Australian families are concerned about their cost of living, with a recent Choice survey finding 77 per cent are worried about the cost of groceries,” Mr Harris said. “With Imperfect Picks being offered at up to half the price of already value for money products, Harris Farm Markets is doing our bit to ease this pressure,” he said.

John Lloyd, CEO of Horticulture Australia has commended the initiative.

“When you’ve got such a high proportion of product that’s not acceptable for the supermarket shelves, any company who takes some action to alleviate that and tries to change that situation should be commended,” Mr Lloyd said.

Harris Farm Markets to partner with Foodbank

As part of Imperfect Picks, Harris Farm Markets will also partner with food waste charity Foodbank to help feed those in need.

“Foodbank Australia is pleased to be working with Harris Farm Markets as they roll out Imperfect Picks,” said Jason Hincks, Foodbank CEO. “The program will not only see more affordable fresh produce available at a store level, but also see a portion of this produce diverted to Foodbank to help feed those in need. Last year Foodbank delivered over 39 million meals through our 2500 welfare agency partners, with fresh produce making up a significant and important portion,” he said.