Food Service & Agriculture, Retail, and Sustainability

Grocer rolls out 'perfectly imperfect' produce

September 22, 2017
TAGS Meijer
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Meijer Misfits produce
A crate full of Misfits produce sits among the regular produce. Courtesy Meijer

A locally based grocer has rolled out a new line of “perfectly imperfect” produce for customers.

Meijer said yesterday it is selling its Misfits produce line to help connect shoppers to produce at a reduced price and cut farm waste.

The retailer said the packaged Misfits produce may be "discolored, scarred or odd-sized," but the items offer “the same taste, freshness and quality” as regularly priced produce. Misfits are delivered daily to 235 Meijer locations across the Midwest.

Misfits produce items vary week to week based on their availability and are sold at a discount of between 20 to 40 percent. Some of the seasonably available produce has included apples, bell peppers, lemons, limes and sweet potatoes.

Walker-based Meijer introduced the Misfits line to all of its locations earlier this month, and customers have already purchased nearly a quarter-million pounds of produce that otherwise would have been discarded.

"Meijer offers more than 600 types of produce, so the Misfits program has been an incredible extension to our overall selection," said Peter Vail, VP of produce, deli and bakery, Meijer. "There is an inner beauty of this perfectly imperfect produce."

Partner

The Misfits program is a partnership between Meijer and Robinson Fresh, a division of C.H. Robinson. The company works with farms to repurpose fruits and vegetables that may not make it to grocery store shelves because of cosmetic issues.

"We understand there is produce left in the field, because farmers don't think there is a market for it," said Craig Arneson, general manager of the north region, Robinson Fresh. "With the Misfits program, farmers have an outlet to sell more produce, and customers have an opportunity to save money and help reduce waste."

Food waste

The Misfits line complements Meijer’s sustainability goals, which supports the USDA’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. Meijer also runs a Midwestern food-rescue program that provides more than 10 million pounds of food annually to local food banks across its footprint.

When food waste cannot be donated to feed hungry people, Meijer said it tries to recycle it through composting, anaerobic digestion or animal feed. Last year, Meijer recycled more than 47.8-million pounds of food waste.

Nationally, the National Institutes of Health estimates that half of the available food supply in the U.S. is never eaten, leaving an estimated 35 million tons of food waste per year, according to Meijer. 

Globally, the United Nations estimates that 20 and 40 percent of produce harvested each year is thrown away, because it does not meet cosmetic standards for store shelves, according to Meijer.

Meijer

Meijer operates 235 supercenters throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

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