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Don’t Toss that Ugly Potato!

November 1, 2014

by Lauren Churchill

intermarche

Often when we go to supermarkets to buy produce we spend our time going through piles of

apples, potatoes, and carrots to find that picture perfect fruit or vegetable that fits our idea of

what produce is supposed to look like. However, a supermarket in France, Intermarché, is

breaking the ideals surrounding what food ‘should’ look like in an attempt to eliminate the

aesthetic standards that grocery stores hold for their produce and reduce food waste by asking the

question, “What is so wrong with a crooked cucumber? Or an unsightly potato? [2].”

Intermarché has begun an ‘ugly fruit’ campaign to sell imperfect fruits and vegetables as

an initiative to reduce food waste. The supermarket uses the produce’s deformities to their

advantage by marketing them with endearing names such as the ‘Unfortunate Clementine’

while dedicating entire aisles to the misshapen fruits and vegetables in their stores. This strategy

does not only reduce food waste by combating the 89 million tons of food wasted each year

across Europe but also combats the issue of the affordability of fresh produce [2]. The French

supermarket is marketing the produce at 30% off regular price as an incentive to get customers

to try the ‘ugly fruits’ while providing free juice samples made from them to show that the ‘ugly’

foods are just as delicious and nutritious as the ‘pretty’ ones! The reduced price of these misfit

fruits and vegetables creates a cost effective alternative for people who may not be able to afford

their recommended daily servings with the current rising prices of produce [1].

In regards to Canada, Toronto has some similar campaigns going on to reduce the waste of

produce that supermarkets do not want. Arrangements between the Ontario Food Terminal and

the Daily Bread Food Bank allow food that is deemed as unacceptable by supermarkets because

of its appearance to be donated to the food bank [1]. Ontario farmers have also developed a

relationship with food banks so they may donate their crops that would otherwise be wasted due

to their different sizes, colouring, or any other traits that challenges the ideal produce appearance

[1].

These are just a few of the improvements that have been made in Toronto to reduce produce

waste, however, most supermarkets are still reluctant to take the initiative to sell ‘ugly’ fruits

and vegetables. Representatives have stated that they do not think these campaigns are suited for

their markets because their consumers are looking for the ‘freshest’ produce, despite the fact that

the ugly fruit campaign has increased traffic flow at Intermarché by 24% [1]. These unshapely

fruits and vegetables are perfectly fresh, consumers and supermarkets are just becoming wrapped

up in the expectation of buying only produce that look like the airbrushed produce they see in

advertisements.

Hopefully the ‘ugly fruit’ campaign will make its way into Canadian supermarkets but in the

meantime, instead of passing by a fruit that is misshapen or discoloured while shopping for that

perfect apple, think, “Doesn’t a ‘Grotesque Apple’ just have more to love!?”

Image credit: Huffington Post UK [3]

[1] Krashinsky, S. (2014, July 31). Ugly fruit campaign prompts consumers to rethink what they

buy. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/dont-judge-a-fruit-by-how-ugly-it-is/

article19876009/

[2] Minder, R. (2014, May 24). Tempting Europe With Ugly Fruit. The New

York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/

2014/05/25/world/europe/tempting-europe-with-ugly-fruit.html?

module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI%3A14%22%7D&_

r=0

[3] Huffington Post. (2014, July 17). Brilliant Food Waste Reduction Campaign Celebrates

Ugly Fruit And Veg. The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/16/french-supermarket-food-waste-campaign-ugly-fruit-and-
veg_n_5590619.html

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