Food Companies Take Steps to Reduce Waste
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Food waste carries an environmental cost, with a large amount of water, energy, fertilizer and other resources used to grow crops. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and ReFED, 40 percent of food in the US, $162 billion worth every year, is never eaten. Producing, processing and transporting uneaten food accounts for 25 percent of America’s water use and four percent of its oil consumption.
In addition to the resources used to grow it, uneaten food generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, when it rots in landfills. For these reasons, fighting food waste has been moving up environmentalists’ agenda as a means of combating climate change. Selling uneaten food would also give growers a new stream of income and offer consumers a way to save money without compromising on taste or nutrition.
Some food companies are now starting to sell slightly less aesthetically pleasing – but still tasty and nutritious – fruits and vegetables. Often, these foods are hardly distinguishable from ordinary ones. Imperfect Produce ships cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables to about 9,500 subscribers in and around San Francisco.
In France, the Intermarché chain of supermarkets started selling what it calls “inglorious” fruits and vegetables in 2014, at 30 percent off, with an advertising and social media campaign decrying the throwing away of good food.
Britain’s upscale Waitrose supermarkets offer carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions branded “a little less than perfect,” as well as misshapen tomatoes and strawberries and weather-blemished apples, pears and green beans, when growers provide them.
Asda, a British grocery chain owned by Walmart, began offering boxes of “wonky veg” in February, at $4.65 for five kilograms. They were such a hit with customers that the company announced the following week it would quadruple the number of stores involved to 350. Asda said the boxes would help avert hundreds of tons of waste.
Giant Eagle, based in Pittsburgh, in February put “produce with personality” on sale in five stores, at up to 20 percent off. The customer response has been so positive that the number of participating outlets has since been increased to 21.
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