Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Editorial: April 2015


March 26, 2015
By Marg Land


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It’s not easy being ugly.

Hey, I know all about it. That wonderful feeling you get when you enter a room and all conversation ceases, only to be replaced by cruel laughter. Never being chosen first for sports teams in school. Or being passed over for that stellar opportunity you just knew was really meant for you because the powers-that-be couldn’t “see you” in the position. I understand. I’ve been there too.

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But it seems Loblaw Companies has found the perfect way to combat those feelings of inadequacy, well, at least the ones being felt by misshapen and under-sized fruit and vegetables. The grocery retailer recently announced it had launched a program based around the idea of selling blemished and unattractive produce at a discount price.

Marketed under the No Name Naturally Imperfect brand, “ugly” produce will be available for purchase in grocery stores across Ontario and Quebec for 30 per cent less than good-looking fruits and vegetables. The campaign has already started in some areas with grotesque looking apples and potatoes available under the brand name.

“We often focus too much on the look of produce rather than the taste,” said Ian Gordon, senior vice-president, Loblaw Brands, Loblaw Companies Limited in a press release from the company. “Once you peel or cut an apple, you can’t tell it once had a blemish or was misshapen. No Name Naturally Imperfect is a great example of Loblaw and our vendors coming together to find an innovative way to bring nutritious food options to consumers at a great price.”

In the past, fruits and vegetables falling under the “imperfect” banner would have been used in soups, sauces or juices or even left in the field or tree. With this program, Loblaw Companies is hoping to ensure farmers have a market for smaller, misshapen produce, ensuring it does not go to waste.

The program is nothing new. Last year, Intermarche, France’s third largest retail grocer, launched a campaign that sold small and misshapen produce for 30 per cent less than the Grade A price. They weren’t alone. A Spanish retailer also joined the ugly fruits and vegetables game. And, according to Canadian Grocer, there are a few Canadian produce marketers involved with similar programs.

So far, reaction from the public has been mixed. While many people are embracing the idea, some believe the oddball produce should be donated to local food banks across the country for free.

On a personal note, I think it’s an interesting idea and provides a great opportunity to expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s hard being perfect and, in some cases, is rather unnecessary, especially if the taste and nutrition are still the same.

Note: Page 20 of the April 2015 issue of Fruit & Vegetable Magazine features an article by Peter Mitham highlighting the usefulness of integrating mock recalls into food safety routines. Segments of this article were also featured in the January/February 2015 issue of Fruit & Vegetable Magazine but without credit to the author. The magazine would like to apologize for any confusion that might have occurred due to the error.