US supermarket titan embraces ugly fruit and vegetables, follows success in Australia

Posted by Aimee Chanthadavong on 31st October 2018

AMERICA’S largest supermarket chain by revenue, Kroger has announced it is launching an imperfect product program called Peculiar Picks –  fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the typical retail aesthetic standards, in an effort to reduce food wastage.

Kroger’s senior innovation manager Nicole Davis told attendees at the recent US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Food Forward Summit that the new brand will go live in 2019.

The program will fall under the company’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative that aims to eliminate waste across the company by 2025.

But this movement is not new to the industry. Australian retailers such as Woolworths and Harris Farm Markets successfully rolled out similar programs a few years back.

In September 2014, Harris Farm Markets (NSW) launched its imperfect picks range and sold it up to 50 per cent cheaper than its usual range.

25% of ‘waste food’ saved

“The imperfect picks range at Harris Farm is reducing the 25 per cent of major fruit and vegetable lines which are wasted each year and as a result we are able to help Aussie farmers get their produce on shelf. It’s even better that NSW agrees, having purchased over 18 million kilos,” said Harris Farm Markets’ co-CEO Tristan Harris.

The retailer decided to double the imperfect range its stores in May 2016 as a move to further cement its commitment to reduce food wastage.

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers who previously might have thought twice about stocking up on everyday fruit and veg that broke the budget,” Harris said.

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Similarly, Woolworths has been selling its Odd Bunch range since late 2014.

“Australians have bought more than 100 million kilos of this fruit and vegetable, helping to reduce food waste and support our growers,” according to a Woolworths spokesperson.

“Odd Bunch has proved incredibly popular with customers, growing 20 per cent in the last financial year, and we continue to look for opportunities to increase the range.”

The Kroger Co., or simply Kroger, is an American retailing company founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the United States’s largest supermarket chain by revenue ($115.34 billion for fiscal year 2016), the second-largest general retailer (behind Walmart) and the seventeenth largest company in the United States. Kroger is also the third-largest retailer in the world and the third largest private employer in the United States.

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