Ugly produce to see turn in spotlight at Raley's in effort to combat food waste
- In an effort to alleviate food waste, Raley's, a major grocery retailer in the West, intends to sell produce deemed "imperfect" by traditional standards, such as yellow-tinged cauliflower heads and misshapen peaches, all of which are still edible and nutritious.
- Depending on the type, anywhere from 1% to 30% of a crop might be wasted and doesn't end up in the produce section of the grocery store or farmers market, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council,. That food waste, which the United Nations estimates to be a $2.6 trillion per year problem, doesn't just happen at the farming level but at all levels of the supply chain, including processing and transportation as well.
- The NRDC also reports that 80% of water, 10% of energy, and 40% of land are used to grow food, so to have up to 40% of that food supply be wasted is a major issue not just for humans but for the environment as well. Food waste is one of the biggest contributors to U.S. landfills and also causes high levels of methane to be released into the air.
Selling imperfect or "ugly" produce isn't a new concept — take a look at French retailer Intermarche.
Where food waste is also a concern for the food industry is in sustainability. As with the aforementioned environmental impact, it's up to food companies to be aware of how much food is wasted at their facilities and employ measures to reduce food waste from farm to package to retailer.
This could mean updating production lines, but it could simply mean employee education — teaching workers better methods for handling food to prevent food waste before it happens. If companies want to improve their sustainability and image to their customers, food waste is one strong area to focus on.