Loblaw’s new line is practically imperfect in every way.
The retailer is jumping on the ugly produce bandwagon with the launch of a No Name Naturally Imperfect line of fruit and vegetables.
Starting with potatoes and apples, customers can purchase smaller, misshapen produce at Real Canadian Superstores and No Frills locations in Ontario, and some Maxi stores in Quebec.
The imperfect produce costs up to 30% less than traditional items in the produce section, according to a Loblaw press statement.
Fruit and veggies in the program were previously used in juices, sauces, soups, or may have not have been harvested due to their small size.
“If you were to grow produce in your backyard there’s a lot that would grow that wouldn’t look as pretty as what you would see in a grocery store. And Mother Nature doesn’t grow everything perfectly,” said Dan Branson, Loblaw senior director responsible for produce, floral and garden items.
A lower-grade Red Delicious apple might have only 50 to 60 per cent colour, with the rest of the fruit a lighter shade of green. There might also be some scarring.
“I’d like to think if somebody were to take a No Name Naturally Imperfect apple and put it right beside a perfect No. 1 apple and closed their eyes and eat it, there would be no difference,” Branson said Thursday.
Bulk and bagged potatoes are typically within a specific size range, with bigger or smaller spuds undesirable.
“Potatoes will often go into food service, but the smaller potatoes, it’s sometimes a real question what happens with those. So we’re taking some of those smaller potatoes and this is where we’re presenting it into a consumer pack for people to take home,” he added.
Branson said the lower-cost produce “improves accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables for some people that may not normally be able to afford to have that access.”
While the discounts of the produce will benefit consumers, Loblaw says the program will also help farmers have a market for the smaller, misshapen fruit they would otherwise throw away.
Loblaw is looking at rolling out the Naturally Imperfect brand nationally by the end of the year, with an expanded assortment of items available.
Ugly produce took centre stage last year when Intermarche, France’s third-largest supermarket held a successful campaign where it devoted floor space to ugly produce marked down 30%. Likewise, in Lisbon, the Ugly Fruit co-operative sells produce other retailers pass up.
Closer to home, Montreal-based Second Life has rescued 956 pounds of ugly fruits and vegetables refused by grocers. The company made arrangements with 12 producers in the Montreal region to collect strangely-shaped produce.
And Calgary’s Red Hat Co-operative markets its less-than-perfect produce as “The Misfits” and started selling it at discounted prices at some Sobeys and Co-op stores in Alberta.