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Ugly produce gets a second chance at Second Life

Company works with producers to collect and distribute strange-looking produce

secondlife

So-called ugly fruits and vegetables that would normally be thrown out are getting a second chance with consumers thanks to a new Montreal enterprise, appropriately named Second Life.

“We were looking for ways to reduce (food) waste,” says co-founder Thibaut Martelain who founded the company with friend Quentin Dumoulin. The two university students have invested $5,000 to date in Second Life.

So far, Second Life has sold 956 pounds of fruits and veggies that would normally be refused by groceries to 207 consumers. It has also made arrangements with 12 producers in the Montreal region to collect their strangely-shaped, scarred, too big or too small produce that would be destined primarily for the garbage or, in some cases, food banks.

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Martelain says he is convinced Second Life is tapping into a consumer demand to reduce food waste.

Second Life has been in the works for the last six months but became better known to the public through two public markets held last month at a popular café in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.

Ten different products were sold at the public markets, including apples, peppers, eggplants, carrots and squash. The markets generated a slight profit and all the produce on display was sold, Martelain says.

Second Life says its produce costs an average 30% less than more shapely fare at supermarkets or an average 10% less than at green grocers, but is just as tasty.

READ: French grocer tackles food waste with “ugly fruit” POS

The service takes its inspiration from Intermarché, France’s third-largest supermarket. The retailer held a successful campaign earlier this year where it devoted floor space to ugly produce marked down 30%.

Martelain doubts large Canadian supermarket chains will follow Intermarché’s example, as doing so would cut into their margins.

Second Life aims to launch e-commerce sales with pick-up points throughout the city and to operate year-round by putting a greater reliance on root vegetables in the winter.

More information about Second Life is available at second-life.ca or in English at iamugly.ca.

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