Ugly and delicious: Why manufacturers should embrace imperfect produce
- Nearly two-thirds of consumers (62%) said they would be at least somewhat comfortable eating "ugly produce," according to a recent survey from The Harris Poll.
- That's even though 81% of respondents said that appearance is at least somewhat important to their produce purchase decisions, including 43% who ranked appearance as very or extremely important.
- Though the interest is there, consumers haven't acted on their curiosity en masse yet, with only 28% of respondents saying they purchased ugly produce in the past year. Just over half (51%) said they did not, and 21% said they were not sure either way.
Pushing ugly produce has dual benefits for manufacturers: Reducing food waste in the U.S., which is currently astronomical, and aligning with consumers' demands for more fresh produce. Retailers have been a focus of the ugly produce movement because they tend to sell whole fruits and vegetables directly to consumers.
But processed food manufacturers can utilize ugly produce in an even easier way. By sourcing fruits and vegetables with deformities, manufacturers still provide the same flavors and nutritional benefits to their products as with more aesthetically-pleasing produce. However, they can often get this produce at a discount from farmers, which saves on production costs.
Manufacturers can also use ugly produce as a claim either on their label, website or other marketing materials as a way to promote their sustainability efforts. According to The Harris Poll, consumers are interested in ugly produce, and manufacturers realize consumers are more concerned about the sustainability of companies' products and operations. Being able to say the manufacturer used ugly produce could be another selling point for these consumers.