Expect to See More ‘Ugly’ Produce Sold at a Discount

The nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer is the latest to join the trend of selling irregular produce on the cheap.

The nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer is the latest to join the trend of selling irregular produce at a discount.

Walmart recently announced that it’s the first retailer to sell a brand of imperfect apples from Washington state called “I’m Perfect.”

Shawn Baldwin, Walmart’s senior vice president for Global Food Sourcing, Produce and Floral, explains in a blog post:

One of the challenges growers have is that Mother Nature can throw a curveball such as a hailstorm, high winds or even a string of very hot sunny days, which can damage the exterior finish of fruits. While the texture and flavor remain perfect, the exterior damage usually renders these fruits unsellable in the fresh market because they fail to meet traditional grade standards.

The “I’m Perfect” apples debuted in stores last week and are currently being sold in 5-pound bags in about 300 stores in Florida. They will eventually be available in 12 varieties like granny Smith and red delicious.

Earlier this year, Walmart also started selling “Spuglies” — russet potatoes that looked imperfect on the outside due to rough weather in Texas — at a “value price.”

Walmart’s latest announcement follows criticism over its reported reluctance to sell irregular produce. Such criticism included a Change.org petition started by Jordan Figueiredo, a solid waste specialist and founder of UglyFruitandVeg.org; and Stefanie Sacks, a nutritionist and author of “What the Fork Are You Eating?”

The petition, which had more than 144,000 signatures as of Monday, argues that “uglies” are as nutritious as traditional-looking produce, and that rejecting ugly produce contributes to food waste:

… we throw away nearly 26% of all produce before it even reaches the grocery store due mostly to cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how fruits and veggies should look. If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color, retailers deem it “ugly” and refuse to sell it in their stores. Billions of pounds of good, healthy produce goes uneaten because it’s not pretty!

What’s your take on “ugly” produce? Would you eat it? Would you buy it if it cost less? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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